Bring On The Fish! Phils / Marlins Set For Opener

Marlins manager Jeff Torborg believes his team can win 90 games this season. Phillies manager Larry Bowa has high hopes, but is keeping his official prediction to himself. Today, the Phillies bring out the expensive guns, while the Marlins show off a few new - though somewhat less expensive - faces of their own.

Kevin Millwood seemingly fell into the Phillies laps when the Braves decided they couldn't afford the right-hander and shipped him north for catcher Johnny Estrada.  The deal came on the heels of Tom Glavine, Paul Byrd and Jamie Moyer all brushing aside the Phillies in their search for a starting pitcher to lead their rotation.  Ironically, Byrd signed in Atlanta, helping to lead to their cash glut and now, he'll start the season on the Braves DL.

Millwood is only one of a number of new faces.  The big fish for the Phillies was firstbaseman Jim Thome, who was overwhelmed with the Phillies interest in him, and decided to leave Cleveland behind for a new career with the Phils.  For some, there are questions about how Thome, historically a slow starter, will adjust to the National League.  Hopefully, the adjustment will be something like Thome's spring that saw him hit .320 with 5 homeruns.

David Bell is another new face in the Phillies plans.  He doesn't bring quite the power or the prestige of a Scott Rolen, but he is the kind of player that fans in Philadelphia love.  His numbers have been somewhat overlooked, hitting 20 homeruns in a tough Pac Bell Park last season for the NL Champion Giants.  Plus, he's known for being a clutch hitter, which the Phillies desperately needed.  Defensively, there may not be a gold glove in his future, but he makes the basic plays and will never come up short on effort.

One of the big keys for the Phillies is a homegrown arrival.  Centerfielder Marlon Byrd was handed the job at the big league level and seemed overwhelmed for most of spring training.  Eventually though, it all seemed to click and Byrd solidified his hold on the spot.  Perhaps, being pushed by Ricky Ledee gave him a reason to find answers to his spring slide.

What's new with the Fish? Some players just don't look right when they change uniforms. Ivan Rodriguez is one of those players.

The Marlins hope for a healthy return of Ivan Rodriguez after signing the former Texas Ranger to a free agent deal. (Photo: Getty Images)
After spending his entire career with the Rangers and not being the Rangers' starting catcher for the first time since 1991, Rodriguez signed with the Marlins in the offseason.  If spring stats mean anything, Rodriguez appears to be fine, having hit .382 with a team high 18 RBI.

The Marlins may have pulled off one of the shrewder deals of the winter, too.  They acquired Mike Hampton and Juan Pierre from the Rockies, shedding Preston Wilson and Charles Johnson's contracts in the deal, only to pick up a huge chunk of Hampton's contract, but send him to Atlanta for reliever Tim Spooneybarger.  Nothing like sending a bad pitcher to the competition, huh?  Hampton had a tough spring to say the least and is starting the season on the DL after a little incident with a treadmill.  As for Pierre, he stole 8 bases this spring and was near the leaders in both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues with 18 runs scored.  For what it's worth, former Phillie Doug Glanville led all players with 20 runs scored.

The Marlins also picked up a nice, young pitcher in Mark Redman.  Coming over from Detroit, Redman may be one of the sleeper deals that were made in the offseason.  Todd Hollandsworth will also try to get back to being the kind of player that made him a Rookie of the Year, as he joins the Marlins.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: Kevin Millwood vs. Josh Beckett

Wednesday: Randy Wolf vs. Carl Pavano

Thursday: Vicente Padilla vs. Mark Redman

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