"The only person I recognize around here," says Ferguson Jenkins, a Cub pitcher for the first time since 1973, "is Yosh Kawano." How true. Kawano, who was the team's clubhouse man before Mrs. O'Leary owned a cow, is about all that's left of the old tradition. And that's exactly the way new General Manager Dallas Green wants it. With the blessing of the new owners, the Tribune Company, Green is restructuring the Cubs from the front office to the playing field in an effort to banish forever the team's image as lovable losers—36 years without a pennant, 73 without a world championship and still counting. "Building a New Tradition" is the theme he has written for this season. And to help him build, Green has enlisted a crew of old Phillies, so many in fact that wags are calling the Cubs "Philadelphia West."
Green managed the pheuding Phillies of 1980 to a world championship and he's hoping some of the magic will rub off on his new team. Green's manager is Lee Elia, who was the Phillies' third-base coach the past two years. He also imported from Philadelphia Shortstop Larry Bowa, Catcher-Infielder-Outfielder Keith Moreland, Infielder-Outfielder Ryne Sandberg and Pitchers Dickie Noles and Dan Larson. It's a shame that Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton didn't come with them because, as Bill Buckner, the holdover first baseman and ranking star, says, "Let's see, last year we were last in hitting and second to last in pitching and fielding. I guess you could say that there is some room for improvement."
Bowa, who is 36 but as feisty as ever, will join Buckner in giving some stability to an infield that is in a state of flux. According to Elia, second base was "a dogfight" until Green settled it by acquiring Bump Wills from Texas two weeks ago. Sandberg, a rookie who can play four positions, replaces Third Baseman Ken Reitz, who was released. Sandberg batted .292 with 32 stolen bases in Oklahoma City last year.
The Cubs will stay with Steve Henderson in left and Leon (Bull) Durham in right. When spring training opened, centerfield was wide open, the leading candidates being Tye Waller, Mel Hall, Gary Woods and Jerry Morales. Of that comparatively beardless assemblage, only Morales has any extensive major league experience. The winner was Waller, who hit .268 in 30 games at third base with the Cubs last year.
Moreland and the promising Jody Davis are both fine young catchers, though Moreland can play just about any position. Then, alas, there's the pitching. The bullpen is O.K. with Dick Tidrow and comebacking Bill Campbell, but the starters must come from among the 38-year-old Jenkins, Noles, Larson, Doug Bird, Allen Ripley and Randy Martz. Jenkins, winner of 264 major league games, may make the Hall of Fame someday, but he was only 5-8 with a 4.50 ERA at Texas last season, and he's just hanging on now. The others will definitely make the Hall of Fame—assuming they buy tickets.
Good teams need good lefthanded pitching, and the Cubs haven't had a lefthander with 200 innings in a season since 1970. Since 1969, the 52 divisional champions have started lefthanders 37% more times than the 52 last-place teams. The first-place teams have had more southpaws than the tail-end teams in 12 of the 13 seasons baseball has had four divisions.