DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ARMS RACE
Which organizations have been the most successful in developing major league pitchers? Well, if the Dodgers and Mets come to mind, you would be right. They're first and second, respectively, having developed 18 and 16 pitchers on major league rosters as of May 7. Tied for second, though, are the Braves, Reds, Pirates and Rangers, who don't have very good pitching reputations. And the Royals and Orioles, who have a heritage of strong pitching, are way down the list.
LOS ANGELES (18): The Dodgers are in a class by themselves, not only in quantity but also in quality. They have developed and kept Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Tom Niedenfuer and Ken Howell. They've provided other teams with some very good pitchers, such as Don Sutton, Charlie Hough, Rick Sutcliffe, Sid Fernandez, Rick Rhoden, Doyle Alexander, Ted Power and John Franco.
ATLANTA (16): If the previous administrations had kept Ken Dayley, Brian Fisher, Jim Acker, Larry McWilliams and Steve Bedrosian to go along with present pitchers Zane Smith, Joe Johnson, Rick Mahler and Duane Ward, the task before manager Chuck Tanner and G.M. Bobby Cox wouldn't be so great. Of course, the Braves wouldn't have had to bring in Tanner and Cox this season in the first place.
NEW YORK METS (16): Only three of their vaunted staff—Dwight Gooden, Rick Aguilera and Roger McDowell—were home-developed. Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Tim Leary, Nolan Ryan, Jeff Reardon, Floyd Youmans and Jay Tibbs are among their exiles.
PITTSBURGH (16): This organization has given away talent such as Dave Dravecky, Tim Burke, Rick Honeycutt and Scott Bailes and received nothing in return. The five it developed on its own current staff aren't quite overwhelming: Jim Winn, Mike Bielecki, Cecilio Guante, Ray Krawczyk and Don Robinson.
TEXAS (16): The current generation of great arms includes Bobby Witt and Jose Guzman. But do you know what the Rangers have to show for losing the likes of Ron Darling, Dave Righetti, Walt Terrell, Tom Henke, Jim Clancy and Ed Lynch?. That's right. Absolutely nothing.
CINCINNATI (16): Mario Soto, Tom Browning, Ron Robinson, Scott Terry and Joe Price are the Reds' own. They also have some interesting products scattered around—Jay Howell, Charlie Leibrandt and Joaquin Andujar.
The surprisingly average: KANSAS CITY (10): The Royals developed a world-championship staff with Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson, Mark Gubizca and Dan Quisenberry. But their only pitchers with other clubs are Atlee Hammaker, Greg Minton, Bill Laskey and Bob McClure.
BALTIMORE (8): Sammy Stewart and Bryn Smith are the only Orioles-bred pitchers with other teams. The Baltimore system has become so weak now that in Triple A, Rochester has journeymen Eric (Harry) Rasmussen, Jerry Augustine, Phil Huffman, Odell Jones and Luis DeLeon.
DETROIT (6): The Tiger farm system produced Jack Morris, Dan Petry and...well, Randy O'Neal, Chuck Cary, Dave Rucker and Roger Mason.
(Tie) MINNESOTA (5): It's a quick drop from Bert Blyleven and Frank Viola to Rich Yett.
SAN FRANCISCO (5): And three of them—Gary Lavelle, John Montefusco and Bob Knepper once pitched for Bill Rigney.
CLEVELAND (5): This stellar group includes Tommy John, who came out of the farm system in 1963.
TORONTO (3): Only Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key and Mark Eichhorn. Curiously, the Blue Jays have made more of a mark scouting other organizations than amateurs. Their pitching staff did lead the AL in ERA last year.
FURTHER UNRAVELING OF THE CHISOX YARN
The White Sox had to call a press conference in the cargo area of O'Hare Airport last Friday to announce that Tony La Russa was not being fired as manager. So continued a soap opera in which owner Jerry Reinsdorf apparently stepped in and put an end to the search for a new manager conducted by fellow owner Eddie Einhorn and G.M. Ken Harrelson. Harrelson had met with Billy Martin when Martin was in Chicago on Yankee broadcasting duties and admitted it to the media and La Russa. But Martin's demands for length of contract and breadth of authority were considered excessive, and Reinsdorf felt that La Russa hadn't been given a fair opportunity to manage his way. So, while Harrelson was courting Louisville manager Jim Fregosi, La Russa was given full power. Harrelson-appointed coaches Moe Drabowsky and Willie Horton will be reassigned, and Carlton Fisk moved from leftfield to back behind the plate. Reinsdorf privately conceded that management had made some terrible personnel decisions. Catcher Joel Skinner, who had supplanted Fisk, not only couldn't hit, but he also had thrown out only one attempted base stealer; Fisk threw out two of the first three runners who tried to steal on him. While 19-year-old pitcher Edwin Correa is showing Texas considerable promise, Dave Schmidt, the pitcher the White Sox got in trade for him, has not turned the bullpen into the best in the division, as Harrelson had vowed. And the White Sox had gotten virtually nothing from their various deals with the Yankees....
Martin would have preferred Seattle and his hunting buddy George Argyros, who was interested in Billy, while Mariners G.M. Dick Balderson favored Billy Gardner to replace Chuck Cottier. President Chuck Armstrong and Balderson talked the owner into a compromise choice, Dick Williams, whose success with young teams on the brink of contention—Boston, Oakland, Montreal, San Diego—was a powerful selling point....
Hough claims that his former Dodger teammate Sutton has "one of the best knuckleballs in the game, and we'll see it soon." Indeed, Sutton, who has been throwing it in practice for more than 10 years, says, "I had planned to start bringing it out after I won my 300th, but I may have to go to it earlier if it takes this long." Sutton failed to win his first five starts this season before beating Toronto May 7 for No. 296....
Now that the commissioner's office is running the voting, names on the All-Star Game ballot have been increased from 144 to 208. The only designated hitter listed is Reggie Jackson, who is the fifth alltime vote getter—behind Rod Carew, Johnny Bench, Steve Garvey and Pete Rose—and has been voted to more starting lineups (11) than anyone but Carew (15). On Sunday Reggie tied Mickey Mantle for sixth place on the all-time homer list with his 536th dinger....
If you don't think that the Tigers immediately missed Kirk Gibson, consider that in their first dozen games following his departure with a severe ankle sprain, their outfielders were 16 for 133, with one homer and six RBIs.
ASTROS TO D.C.? NOT TOO SLICK
When Astros owner John McMullen fired Tal Smith as general manager in October 1980, the team had just won the National League West and had drawn 2.2 million fans. By mid-decade the Astros were so boring that their attendance had dropped by more than one million. Now, just as a new front office and a new manager (Hal Lanier) have gotten them off to their best start since '80, McMullen has realienated an area devastated by the oil-industry slump by threatening to move the team to Washington. There seems little doubt that McMullen would like to do so....
When the Cardinals went into their infamous slump and scored three runs or fewer in 13 of 15 games, they put to rest the theory that teams with speed and defense will never suffer prolonged droughts....
The Yankees keep trying to get Hough, with little success. They can't make up their minds whether or not they think lefthander Dennis Rasmussen is a legitimate starter. Opponents batted just .167 against him in his first five starts, and he left every one with a lead, but the doubts linger....
The Orioles are concerned about outfielder Mike Young, who after hitting 28 homers last season was homerless in his first 73 at bats this season. "He seems to have a blind spot on fastballs up and in," says one scout. "If he doesn't adjust, he may find himself back in Triple A." The Orioles thought they would tear down walls all season, but in their first 28 games Eddie Murray had driven in runs in only six of them, and he and Cal Ripken had RBIs in the same game just once. When they lost to the Royals May 9, it put them under .500 (65-66) in Earl Weaver's second reign....
Lanier started Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott and Bob Knepper in 22 of the Astros' first 25 games, but Ryan won only three of his first eight starts—he was 2-6 after the All-Star Game last year. He has allowed seven homers in 44 innings this season; he gave up only 12 in 232 in '85. "They'll wear him out for sure," says former teammate and current Dodger Enos Cabell of the 39-year-old Ryan. "One more month and he'll be on the disabled list."
...Since signing a five-year, $6 million free-agent contract with the Yankees in December 1982, Steve Kemp had batted only .259, with 22 homers and 112 RBIs in 938 at bats before being released by the Pirates last week. His defensive capabilities were also limited by a shoulder operation. While it can be said that money persuaded Kemp to sign with the wrong team in the wrong ballpark, it can never be said that he took the money and got fat. Few players ever ran out ground balls to the second baseman as hard as he did.
AN OUTFIELDER NAMED ALOU IS ON THE WAY
Pirates general manager Syd Thrift feels that Felipe Alou's son, Moises—an outfielder selected by the Bucs last January—may be a better prospect than anyone available in June. Pittsburgh plans to sign Alou as soon as his season is over. The Pirates also have the first choice in next month's free-agent draft....
The baseball team for Dulaney High in Baltimore has some familiar names. The infield is made up of two sons of Terry Crowley and two sons of Mark Belanger. Between them, Crowley and Belanger put in 30 seasons with the Orioles. Ironically, Terry Crowley Jr. is the shortstop, even though Belanger was the greatest shortstop of his time. Terry Sr. is now a coach with the Orioles while Belanger works for the Players Association....
For all the kidding that Giants third baseman Chris Brown takes about minor injuries that keep him out of the lineup, one National League scout insists, "When he wants to play, he's clearly the best all-around third baseman in the league."
...Never let it be said that Red Sox pitcher Al Nipper lacks guts or brains. When Mariner outfielder Phil Bradley—a former all-Big Eight quarterback—charged the mound May 7, Nipper took two steps forward to meet Bradley, dropped the glove off his left hand and decked him with a left cross. When the fight was over, Nipper went back to pitching with his protected right hand and got the win....
Remember when so many people thought that Mario Soto was the second coming of Juan Marichal? He has become, instead, the next Paul Foytack—he once gave up four homers to four consecutive batters. Not only is Soto off and running toward the gopher-ball title, but in one two-inning, 16-batter sequence in successive starts against the Expos and Mets, he gave up five homers, eight runs, nine hits and two walks.
BETWEEN THE LINES
THE ALAN FUNT PRANK OF THE WEEK
Long the subject of Yankee trade rumors, Dodger pitcher Jerry Reuss left Wrigley Field after a Dodgers-Cubs game May 6 and, carrying an equipment bag stuffed with towels, traveled to Comiskey Park, where the Yanks were playing the White Sox. There he talked his way into the Yankee clubhouse and barged into manager Lou Piniella's office.
"Pleased to meet you," Reuss told Piniella. "I pitched Friday, so I'll do whatever you want, start or relieve."
"What are you talking about?" replied a stunned Piniella.
"Didn't George call? We just made the deal."
After Piniella closed the door to talk to his new pitcher, coaches Joe Altobelli and Gene Michael leaned around the corner to eavesdrop, and Dale Berra nervously inquired who had been traded for Reuss.
It was, of course, another Reuss prank. He pitched two days later for the Dodgers.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
When Pirates pitcher Bob Walk came close to San Francisco's Jeffrey Leonard with three consecutive pitches, Leonard shouted at him, "Don't you ever come inside on me again as long as you live—or you won't."
The next time Leonard came to the plate, Walk hit him on the left arm. Leonard glared...and that was it. Walk lived to face another batter.
HOW SOON THEY FORGET
To establish a club Hall of Fame, the Kansas City Royals printed an inaugural ballot with 41 names, including George Lynford Throop III and Joe Zdeb. It did not, however, list Amos Otis, the Royals' centerfielder for nearly 14 seasons.
HOW SOON THEY FORGET II
When Expos pitcher Andy McGaffigan blanked the Phillies 8-0, he was asked how it felt to get his first major league shutout. McGaffigan insisted that the media guide was wrong and that he had shut out the Giants in 1985 while pitching for Cincinnati. Expo catcher Dann Bilardello agreed, adding that he had caught that Giants game.
A check with the Elias Sports Bureau determined that McGaffigan did indeed beat the Giants for the Reds. The score was 6-1.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
•"Being able to contribute is an opiate for the masses of society. Everyone wants to participate. But we don't all study Lenin."—Dan Quisenberry
•"I really feel sorry for the first 20 batters I face when I get back."—St. Louis pitcher Jeff Lahti, after undergoing a shoulder operation similar to the one done on Roger Clemens, and by the same surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.
•"They're going to have to hang a bell around one of their necks."—Milwaukee coach Larry Haney after Angels outfielders Brian Downing and Gary Pettis collided twice in four days.
•In his first seven appearances, Toronto lefthander Jimmy Key faced 105 batters; 29 scored.
•The Brewers scored 116 runs in Moose Haas's 26 starts last season, and he was 8-8. In his first six this season, the A's scored 55 and Haas was 6-0. He credits his success in '86 to Dwayne Murphy's uniform pants, which Haas has worn for every start since he accidentally donned them his first time out.
•On his 40th birthday, Davey Lopes pinch-ran.
•The Baseball Encyclopedia lists Wade Boggs as batting right and throwing left. Do the editors know something pitchers should know?
•Greg Harris has 17 saves in little more than one full season with the Texas Rangers; that places him fifth on the club's all time save list.
•At his current pace, fireballing Rangers rookie Bobby Witt will finish the season with 199 strikeouts, 206 walks, an opposition batting average of .168, 4.82 earned run average, 13 wins and six losses.
•On April 29, Rich Gedman caught Roger Clemens's record 20-strikeout performance. The next afternoon his brother Paul caught an NCAA-record 22 walks for the University of Lowell (Mass.) in a 14-7 victory over Bentley.
When Pittsburgh called up outfielder Trench Davis last week, he became the 12th Davis to appear on a major league roster this year, joining Alvin, Chili, Eric, Glenn, Jody, Joel, Mark, Mike, Ron, Steve and Storm. Listed below are 10 of the most popular last names in baseball and the years in which they appeared most frequently.