The Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast

Thought it might be fun, as part of the franchise’s 25th anniversary celebration, to look back at the Marlins’ inaugural spring training in 1993.

For openers, they were the Florida Marlins back then, owned by Wayne Huizenga, who made many of his millions renting videotape cassettes of Hollywood movies. Yes, it really was a long time ago.

Jeff Conine honored at Marlins 2008 opener. Staff photo by Allen EyestoneThe Palm Beach Post.

The first training facility was near Melbourne on Florida’s Space Coast. They call the community Viera these days but back then it was just a flat expanse of land along I-95 where developers were just kicking off plans to build a huge residential community with plenty of retail and schools and a Brevard County  governmental complex.

As it was, the practice fields were barely ready for use and the more general landscaping of the property and painting of the clubhouse were still being done when the players headed out for the opening workout. Manager Rene Lachemann warned against anybody complaining too much about the conditions, bad hops and such.

“Some of the (groundskeeping) guys here are on work release,” he said. “You know what that means. They’re from the joint. Be careful what you say.”

Lachemann, always a funny guy, had already been fired twice as manager of the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers. He worked six years as Tony La Russa’s third-base coach in Oakland before former  Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski hired him to lead Miami’s expansion team.

Today Lachemann is out of the game but it took a while. He retired in 2016 after 53 consecutive seasons in a professional baseball uniform. Dombrowski remains busy as president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

Back, though, to the spring of 1993 and a detail that most Marlins fans have forgotten. Space Coast Stadium wasn’t available for the first exhibition season. In fact, there wasn’t even a groundbreaking for the stadium’s construction until the Marlins had left Melbourne to begin the regular season.

Consequently, the first-even Marlins spring game and all other 1993 home exhibition games were played 11 miles south on I-95 at an old facility called Cocoa Expo Stadium.

The Houston Astros used that place for 21 years and moved on, feeling cramped and ready for more modern accomodations in Kissimmee, but the Marlins did their best to spruce things up for their opening exhibition game in Cocoa on Friday, March 5, 1993.

Huizenga chartered a Boeing 727 to fly 150 VIP’s up from South Florida. Parachutists floated into the stadium pregame. There were fireworks in a sunlit sky and groundskeepers in tuxedos and all kinds of circus-style extras, like a fire-eating performer and live alligators on display.

As for the baseball, as you would expect, Jeff Conine hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, who beat Houston 12-8. As you might not expect, a sellout crowd of 6,696 was there to cheer and stomp and clap for practically everything that happened.

The next day a greater sense of reality set in as the Marlins climbed on a couple of buses for what should have been a four-hour ride to Homestead and a game with the Cleveland Indians. It took a little longer because one of the buses blew a tire soon after leaving Melbourne.

It took a sense of humor to get by in those early days, and in many cases with the rebuilding Marlins, now training in a first-class facility at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, it still does.

[Wade’s return touches every emotional touchstone for Heat fans]

[Where was Derek Jeter when the Marlins were born?]

[There was a time, gulp, when the Heat played in the Western Conference]

Astros and Nats might just bring World Series buzz back to West Palm next spring

Don’t look now but Spring Training 2018 at the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is shaping up as a potential homecoming for two World Series teams.

With the midsummer All-Star Game break upon us, the two teams with the biggest leads in their respective major league divisions are Houston and Washington, co-tenants at the West Palm Beach training facility. The Astros, as a matter of fact, own the best record in baseball, and with no signs of slowing down.

Baseball fans gather at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to watch a spring training matchup between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Michael Ares / The Palm Beach Post)

It’s too early to predict that West Palm’s teams will meet in the World Series, of course, but it would be a first for Palm Beach County, and a major coup for the county planners who landed the Astros and Nationals as home teams for the stadium’s opening last year.

Palm Beach County has had plenty of major league teams training here going all the way back to the 1920’s but never representatives from both the National and American leagues at once.

On four occasions teams that trained in Palm Beach County have won the World Series, and here they are.

1995 Atlanta Braves – West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

2003 Florida Marlins – Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter

2006 St. Louis Cardinals – Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter

2011 St. Louis Cardinals – Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter

  Right now Las Vegas has the Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers as the best bets to win the World Series but you never can tell.

The Marlins won it all in their first year training at Jupiter, and that was coming off a 79-83 season in 2002.


[A week-by-week itinerary for watching best college football with Florida’s teams]

[National champion Gators continue PB County pipeline to top baseball talent]

[LeBron may be 3-5 in NBA Finals appearances, but he’s a long way from being a loser]

 

 

World Baseball Classic rolls on, and it’s bound to get rockier for Team USA

 

The World Baseball Classic was a monster success during first-round play at Marlins Park, with a total attendance of 163,878 for six games (the most ever for any first-round session at a U.S. site) and an average of 27,313 per game.

Still interested now that the tournament and Team USA have moved on to the second round?

Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera celebrates with teammates after hitting a run against Italy during the ninth inning of a tie-breaker game at the World Baseball Classic in Guadalajara, Mexico, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luis Gutierrez)

Here’s the deal. The U.S. plays Venezuela Wednesday night at San Diego’s Petco Park. The game starts at 9 p.m. on the MLB network and it won’t do for the American stars to lose it. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are the other teams in this pool and only two can advance to the championship round at Dodger Stadium.

Venezuela barely survived first-round play in Mexico, needing a tiebreaker win over Italy to advance. Oh, and it took a three-run rally in the ninth inning to get by in that game.

It’s a big mistake, however, to think that Venezuela can’t be very good.

That dramatic Monday night rally against Italy featured a home run by Miguel Cabrera, the 2012 Triple Crown hitter and four-time American league batting champion. Also in the ninth, Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers hit one off the wall to drive in a run and Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals got another one home with a perfect squeeze bunt.

We haven’t even mentioned Martin Prado of the Miami Marlins yet. He’s hitting .438 for Venezuela and early in the tournament cranked out the first five-hit game in WBC history.

Tough competition, but it will get tougher for Team USA. Venezuela lost 11-0 to Puerto Rico in the opening round in a game that was called after seven innings due to the mercy rule.

[Expecting it to be the Zagnuttiest NCAA tournament of them all]

[Let Lane Kiffin be your guide to a healthier, happier life]

[NCAA berths didn’t come to UM during Rick Barry’s golden era]

You can stay up with all of this on the MLB network as Team USA continues play against Puerto Rico on Friday night and the Dominican Republic on Saturday night, or you can stick to spring training, which is missing a ton of its stars because of the WBC.

The following Houston Astros, for instance, are playing WBC games in San Diego this week. Jose Altuve for Venezuela, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa for Puerto Rico, and Alex Bregman and Luke Gregerson for Team USA.

 

 

Who are the must-have autographs for Palm Beach County’s four spring-training teams?

Spring training opens this week so it’s time for autograph hounds to formulate a strategy for the four teams training in Palm Beach County.

Biggest names? You already know to have a Sharpie ready whenever Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright and Carlos Beltran are around.

When it comes to the best all-around player, though, you might want to head to the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to get the signature of Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) smiles in the dugout after scoring a run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

That’s what major league players seem to think, anyway, based on their voting for the 2016 Players Choice Awards. Altuve won Player of the Year and for the second consecutive year won the Majestic Always Game Award for consistent intensity and hustle.

Last year he won the American League batting title (.338), led the majors in hits (216) and set career highs for home runs (24) and runs batted in (96). That’s a mountain of stats for any player but even more impressive for a guy like Altuve, who stands 5-feet-6.

Of course, Altuve has to keep going if he wants to be the best second baseman in West Palm Beach this spring. Washington’s Daniel Murphy is the best at his position in the National League and he’s coming off a great 2016 season with 25 homers, 104 RBI and a .347 batting average that came up one point short of tying Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu for the batting title in his league.

Here are some other categories that might help you prioritize those autographs for players training in our county alone, depending on areas of particular interest. All numbers are based on 2016 regular-statistics, with a few bonuses thrown in for career achievements.

Batting average: Murphy and Altuve we’ve already covered, but the following players at Palm Beach County training camps also broke .300 last year. Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals (both at .307). Martin Prado (.305) and J.T. Realmuto (.303) of the Miami Marlins.

Home runs: Evan Gattis of the Astros hit 32 last year. Jedd Gyorko of the Cardinals hit 30. Houston’s George Springer and Beltran, a new Astros teammate, each hit 29. And don’t ever forget Stanton, who hit 27 for the Marlins in an injury-shortened season and his the franchise’s career home run leader.

RBI: There are four on this list with 96 or more last season. Murphy leads the way with 104. Next is Christian Yelich of Miami with 98. Houston teammates Altuve and Carlos Correa had 96 each. Better save some space, too, for Beltran, who is fourth among active players with 1,536 career RBI and 50th all-time.

Stolen bases: Trea Turner of the Nationals led this group last year with 33, and even better he’s from Park Vista High School west of Lake Worth. Altuve had 30 and so did the Marlins’ Dee Gordon, who was the NL stolen-base champion in 2015 but missed 80 games last year due to a suspension.

Wins: Scherzer of the Nationals won 20 game last year. Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals and Tanner Roark of Washington won 16 each. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals won 15 and Dan Straily, a Miami newcomer, won 14 games last year for Cincinnati.

ERA: Under 3.00 last year were Roark (2.83) and Scherzer (2.96). Martinez came close at 3.04. Special mention to Wainwright, who is fifth among active pitchers with a career ERA of 3.17 and has been making batters work forever.

Strikeouts: Scherzer led the major with 284. Strasburg had 183, but in 10 fewer starts, and forget the Astros’ Collin McHugh, who struck out 177 last year.

[Astros owner surely won’t be stuck by spring stadium cost overruns]

[Lane Kiffin says new FAU quarterback has moved on from old troubles]

[Some warmed-over Super Bowl LI nuggets that still pack a punch]

Well, there’s somewhere to start, particularly for fans who don’t know as much about Palm Beach County’s new spring-training home teams, the Nationals and Astros.

Good luck and remember, little kids should own all the spots up front at the autograph areas, and without fear of being crushed. Be nice about it and the players will be, too.

 

 

 

Astros owner Jim Crane surely won’t be sunk by stadium cost overruns

Jim Crane, owner of the Houston Astros, is looking to make a trade.

According to real-estate news reported in the Los Angeles Times, he will give you his oceanfront estate in Pebble Beach, Calif., in exchange for the listed price of $37.9 million.

Astros owner Jim Crane stands in front of a rendereing of the new baseball complex during the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction on the new Major League Baseball spring training facilityi n West Palm Beach Monday November 9, 2015. Participants included MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the owners of the Astros and Nationals and local elected leaders. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Astros owner Jim Crane stands in front of a rendering of the new baseball complex during the 2015 groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction on the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

We’re talking eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and nine fireplaces, plus a poolhouse and a cabana and a cliffside view of the Pacific.

The newspaper’s public records check showed that Crane, who also owns the Floridian golf club in Palm City, bought the Pebble Beach home for $5.5 million in 1998.

[UPDATE – Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Astros also are investing at least $25 million into converting a West Palm Beach office building into a hotel for Astros players and personnel during future spring training years]

Bottom line, don’t waste time worrying about the hardship that projected cost overruns might have at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the new forever spring-training home of the Astros and Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach.

The teams are responsible for anything above $135 million.

Could be that the final price tag for the stadium and all the other facilities at the Military Trail site climbs past $150 million. That will be something for Crane and Nationals owner Ted Lerner to figure out. Lerner is the billionaire who owns the sprawling Chelsea Piers entertainment complex in New York City, among other things.

Pitchers and catchers report next week to West Palm Beach’s new spring training facility for the Astros and Nationals. The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals are also due back at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium, which opened in 1998 at a cost of $28 million.

[Heat win streak is so much better than limping to draft lottery]

[Some Super Bowl nuggets that still pack a punch days later]

[Lane Kiffin says new FAU quarterback is moving past old trouble]

 

Palm Beach County’s spring-training showcase is the best in the state

Palm Beach County is really stepping up its game with the opening next month of a new spring-training stadium for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

We’re not just talking volume here, either, but quality.

Cam Richardson, left, and Zach Severns, operations managers for Brightview Sports Turf, complete work on the stadium pitchers mound at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on January 10, 2017.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Cam Richardson, left, and Zach Severns, operations managers for Brightview Sports Turf, complete work on the stadium pitchers mound at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on January 10, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Pair those two teams with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium and you’ve got a combined record of 44 games above .500 in last year’s MLB standings. Let’s see some other county top that.

Sure, Maricopa County in the Phoenix metro area really pours it on, swallowing up 15 teams at 10 spring-training facilities within its boundaries.

Add it all up, though, from the high of the World Champion Chicago Cubs to the low of the 94-loss Padres and Reds and the total of wins and losses from 2016 is not so grand for that large Arizona grouping. Six games below .500, to be exact.

Probably doesn’t make much sense to turn this into some kind of bragging war, but it’s fair to say that Palm Beach County is playing a major role in Florida’s overall stability as a spring-training destination.

The Atlanta Braves nearly pulled a muscle trying to get back here before recently settling on a planned facility in Sarasota County on the state’s Gulf Coast. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches makes the Mets feel more comfortable about staying in Port St. Lucie, too.

[Let’s talk about a Heat upset even wilder than Monday’s win over Warriors]

[Gators fall well short of 2016’s college football scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

So what would be the best recommendation if you’re a baseball fan from up north in search of the perfect spring vacation spot and you don’t have an obsession with a particular team and just want to collect lots of autographs and plenty of rays?

Got to be honest. It’s Arizona for the simple reason that there are so many teams in a concentrated area, which means you’re bound to get a glimpse of some recognizable player at most any restaurant or nightspot in town.

Second prize goes to Palm Beach County, though, and first prize if we’re talking of Florida alone.

Sure, it’s off to Fort Myers if the Red Sox are what matters most, and Tampa if it’s a Yankees thing. Stay here, however, and there’s baseball every day with a minimum of hassles.

Plus there’s that fresh-paint smell at the new park in West Palm Beach. Makes you certain that spring training is a still a growing concern in our neighborhood, and that teams will stop threatening to tumbleweed their way to Arizona, the way the Dodgers did in 2009.

 

A pat on the back for the Marlins, and not just because they’re going through a horrible time

Well, the Miami Marlins were eliminated from wild-card playoff contention on Tuesday night, but just as certainly I have been mathematically shut out, too, when it comes to predicting their final season record.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 27: Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Miami Marlins walks off the field during the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 27, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
MIAMI – Manager Don Mattingly of the Miami Marlins walks off the field during the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on Tuesday. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Back in the spring I wrote that the Marlins would finish 76-86, a five-win improvement over 2015. That actually felt a little generous at the time, but here they are, still with a chance to finish .500 or above for the first time since 2009.

It will take a strong finish in this weekend’s final series at Washington, and don’t forget that the Nationals are still battling to wrap up home-field advantage against Los Angeles in the playoffs.

Still, with the tragedy of Jose Fernandez hanging heavy over the franchise, it is impressive that the Marlins have accomplished what they have.

Don Mattingly is still the manager, which means a couple of things. Jeffrey Loria has been keeping his distance and Mattingly has kept his positive attitude about working with a team that isn’t ready to win big yet.

Barry Bonds is still the co-hitting coach, which shows he is serious about getting back into baseball’s good graces.

Overall, the team has fought hard all season. The Marlins were still in the hunt as July turned to August. At that point they were 57-48 and just four games back of Washington in the division. Not bad for an outfit that lost 2015 NL batting champion Dee Gordon for 80 games on a PED suspension.

[Jupiter’s Cody Parkey has sympathy of Dolphins’ special-teams coach]

[Marching with Arnie’s Army during his final Masters round in 2004]

[Lamar Jackson could do what no Palm Beach County athlete ever has]

Bottom line, Palm Beach County is looking good for an old-fashioned baseball revival next spring.

In addition to the Marlins, Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium is the spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals, who still are scrambling for a wild-card spot this week and always can be counted upon to be highly competitive.

Meanwhile, West Palm Beach’s new spring-training ballpark will house the Nationals, who could be coming off a deep playoff run, and the Houston Astros, who are handling themselves consistently well in the tough American League with a chance to match last season’s 86-win total.

All of this is proof that baseball can be fun, and the Marlins could actually be in on it again once February rolls around.

Until then, the grief over Jose’s death will make all this talk of momentum moot.

 

Dechiphering ‘Nerdgate,’ the St. Louis Cardinals’ childish computer game

So, while we’re waiting for a ruling on Tom Brady’s role in Deflategate, the generous summer of 2015 serves up a bonus baseball conspiracy crisis of outsized proportions.

Nerdgate.

What else are we supposed to call an investigation into computerized creeps stealing juicy megabytes of information on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals, and choosing as the victim a Houston Astros franchise that hasn’t posed a serious threat to much of anyone in the last decade?

With the St. Louis Cardinals out of town on a road trip, Busch Stadium sits quiet Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in St. Louis. The team said Wednesday it hired a law firm several months ago to conduct an internal inquiry and to assist the FBI and Justice Department in their investigation into possible computer hacking of the Houston Astros database by members of the Cardinals organization. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
With the St. Louis Cardinals out of town on a road trip, Busch Stadium sits quiet Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in St. Louis. The team said Wednesday it hired a law firm several months ago to conduct an internal inquiry and to assist the FBI and Justice Department in their investigation into possible computer hacking of the Houston Astros database by members of the Cardinals organization. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The FBI is taking this very seriously but at the moment I’m having a little trouble.

Hackers from North Korea and China are dangerous, digging into secrets and practices that are strictly the business of the U.S. government and American corporations.

Then there are the hackers who pry into the accounts of private citizens who mistakenly believe their data is protected by banks and credit card companies and department stores. That hits all of us where we live.

Baseball hackers, on the other hand, can only do harm by embarrassing and antagonizing a rival. Everybody scouts the same players. Everybody deals with agents who represent players on every team and use that private knowledge to full advantage. Everybody has front-office personnel who move from one organization to the next.

Snooping around the internal communications and personnel evaluations of another team isn’t sophisticated. It’s punkish. It’s a prank that you pull just because you can.

Picture adolescents of another time so bored that they call people up at random and ask them if their refrigerator is running. They had yellow fingers from stuffing cheese puffs into their mouths and stains on their shirts from laughing so hard that the soda came shooting out of their noses. These were the kids who stayed inside playing Strat-O-Matic rather than going out and actually organizing a pick-up game.

Can’t do that phone stuff anymore, of course, because of caller ID. So we’re on to computer bullying in its various forms. This Cardinals crew, possibly operating from a home in Jupiter during spring training 2014, allegedly used a new set of dirty tricks to spy on the Astros, whose general manager Jeff Luhnow previously worked in the St. Louis organization.

A Yahoo report on the FBI’s year-long dig into this molehill says the Jupiter residence was occupied by several Cardinals employees. If true, that doesn’t sound like wealthy front-office types. They’re over on the beach, not crowding into a spot near Roger Dean Stadium in order to cut costs on shared pizzas and stay up late playing video games.

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong on this over time. Maybe a Cardinals executive is involved in this, directly or otherwise. At first glance, though, it doesn’t fit the mold of an organization with a long reputation for doing things the right way.

If there’s anything really funny about this, it’s picturing Bill Belichick a little grumpier than usual today, asking himself why he didn’t think of this first.

And if there’s anything truly intriguing about it, how about the fact the Astros will be in West Palm Beach for spring training 2017, just down the road from the Cardinals in Jupiter?

That, however, is too far out in the future. Other earthshaking investigations in the sports world will long have overshadowed this one, like maybe news of a slush fund meant to win votes for an Olympics in Oklahoma City.

(Note to self: Good, that’s done. Better head to the vending machine down the hall now and buy a soft drink for the I.T. team and anyone else who has ever swooped in to perform a rescue mission on a computer problem beyond my kindergarten-level technical skills. Nobody likes being called a nerd.)

Astros are getting so good that West Palm should party like it’s 2017

 

When the Houston Astros first started nosing around Palm Beach County for a new spring-training site a few years back, the news was met with interest but not the kind that has everybody talking, even the people who don’t follow sports.

For a real sensation you’d need the Yankees or Red Sox coming to town, or maybe a return of the Dodgers to Vero Beach. I mean, there’s baseball and there’s circus.

[Remembering rat-infested Panthers playoff run as Bolts play for Cup]

[Dwyane Wade was better than you thought this year]

[Tannehill can become franchise QB if Dolphins learn to protect him]

Anyway, the Washington Nationals and the Astros are coming to a spring facility near 45th Street and Haverhill Road in 2017, if all construction projections are met. That means a ton of new tourism money whether those teams are up or down at a given moment, but there’s a bonus in the way the Astros are playing lately.

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 03:  Lance McCullers #43 of the Houston Astros (R) is greeted by Evan Gattis #11 and his teammates after pitching a complete game victory over the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 during their game at Minute Maid Park on June 3, 2015 in Houston, Texas.(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Lance McCullers #43 of the Houston Astros (R) is greeted by Evan Gattis #11 and his teammates after pitching a complete game victory over the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 during their game at Minute Maid Park on June 3, 2015.(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Houston entered the weekend with the American League’s best record, which is difficult enough to get used to since the Astros were in the National League for their first 51 seasons of existence and only made the switch in 2013.

Far more startling is the notion that the team could be much good in any league, including Triple-A.

The Astros haven’t had a winning record since 2008. They’ve either been in rebuilding mode or demolition mode since then, depending on how kind you wish to be about it.

Worst record in the majors in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with an average of 108 losses during that stretch.

Made the Marlins look like kings.

So if the Astros are suddenly going to be contenders, and if Texans go as big in their bandwagon baseball fever as they do with everything else, it looks like West Palm Beach is getting a better deal than anybody knew.

Get this, too. Last summer Sports Illustrated ran a cover story predicting Houston would win the 2017 World Series championship. Whether it was a little tongue-in-cheek or not, the Astros have been stockpiling young talent for years now as a result of their pitiful progress in the standings.

Owner Jim Crane, the guy with the Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, has plenty of money to spend on locking up that talent and in chasing down some more.

Equally important, Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is tonight and the Astros own two of the top five picks.

To recap, in 2017 Palm Beach County will have St. Louis and Miami training in Jupiter plus Washington and Houston training in West Palm Beach. The way things are shaping up, the Marlins are in real danger of being the weakest link.