SHUT UP AND DEAL
When baseball executives can't make trades, they offer two clichés in defense: "Contracts have made trades virtually impossible," and "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make." The Royals might argue with that second point. They turned down Chili Davis—who has nine more RBIs than any Royal—from the Giants for Mark Gubizca, Mark Huismann and Darryl Motley. Gubizca is 3-4 with a 4.88 ERA, Huismann was traded to Seattle for a minor league catcher, and Motley, who had the winning homer in Game 7 of the World Series, has been banished to Omaha to play with Onix Concepcion.
Speaking of trades that did happen, here are five made during the off-season that have turned out to be significant:
•1) Texas acquired Edwin Correa in a five-player deal with the White Sox. Even discounting Scott Fletcher's value as a utility infielder and the potential of second baseman Jose Mota, Correa was a steal. "He's unquestionably the best rookie pitcher in the league," says one opposing pitching coach. "He's going to be a stopper in the class of a [Roger] Clemens, or [Bret] Saberhagen."
June 22, 1986
•2) Boston got Don Baylor from the Yankees for Mike Easier. He ended the "25 guys, 25 cabs" mentality, gave the Sox righthanded power and left behind a Yankee team that is under .500 in games started by opposing lefthanders.
•3) The Mets picked up Bobby Ojeda and 20-year-old righthander John Mitchell from Boston for three players presently at Pawtucket and one on the disabled list. With his lefthanded changeup, Ojeda gives the Mets what manager Davey Johnson calls "a different wrinkle" and an 8-2 record. According to Met minor league field coordinator Darrell Johnson, Mitchell is "another Orel Hershiser."
•4) Detroit landed third baseman Darnell Coles from Seattle for pitcher Richard Monteleone (5-4, 4.66 at Calgary). Coles is second among Tiger regulars in hitting and RBIs and is becoming one of the team's best players.
•5) Texas got Pete Incaviglia from Montreal for Bob Sebra and Jimmy Anderson. Yup, the Bob Sebra. The Incaviglia-Oddibe McDowell-Ruben Sierra outfield may be a fixture in Texas on into the '90s.
The trade that received the most headlines over the winter was St. Louis sending pitcher Joaquin Andujar to Oakland for catcher Mike Heath and pitcher Tim Conroy. Andujar has pulled his hamstring almost as often as he has won, Conroy is disabled with a bad shoulder and while Heath has played well defensively, he is still climbing the stairway to .200.
WHITE AND RED SOX IN TRADE MARKET
"Now that the trading deadline has been pushed back [from June 15 to Aug. 1], no one wants to make moves until they have to," says Ken Harrelson of the White Sox. Detroit's Bill Lajoie adds that the unusually high number of disabled players is making trades even more difficult. The Hawk would like to make a blockbuster or at least trade a pitcher (preferably Tom Seaver) for a hitter to protect Harold Baines and Greg Walker. He tried and got nowhere with the Phillies and Blue Jays. There will be some movement soon. Toronto is still dangling unhappy 35-year-old Doyle Alexander in front of the Braves, but Atlanta's Bobby Cox won't part with rookie lefthanded reliever Paul Assenmacher, who is 6 for 7 in save situations. If the Jays don't get back in the race by the end of June, they might settle for the Braves' hard-throwing but erratic righthander Duane Ward....
The Red Sox have been trying to talk the Cubs out of Bob Dernier, because they don't think Steve (Psycho) Lyons is an everyday player and because Tony Armas has fewer homers than Dennis Eckersley....
The Tigers are shopping both Chet Lemon and Dave LaPoint. The former has lost a couple of steps in center and has been plagued by a succession of minor injuries. As for the latter, the Tigers feel the American League parks are too small for him. If you don't think there's a big difference in parks between the two leagues, consider that of the 15 leading home run stadiums in this decade, 13 are in the American League....
The Yankees—with one complete-game victory—are desperately trying to find two starting pitchers, but a rival G.M. says, "There isn't anything left in their farm system that's got any value—and don't let them try to fool you with Doug Drabek or Brad Arnsberg."
...Reports continue to circulate that if the Expos don't get closer to the Mets, they will deal Andre Dawson to the Padres, then get to work on signing their other October free agent, Tim Raines, to a long-term contract....
It rankled Seattle owner George Argyros and his front office when Dick Williams said that he wanted to unload Gorman Thomas and Barry Bonnell, who would join the already departed Al Cowens and Milt Wilcox. Those moves will cost Argyros nearly $1.2 million (virtually the same amount the Dodgers swallowed when they released Terry Whitfield, Bobby Castillo, Cesar Cedeno and Bob Bailor), but Argyros knew the last thing Williams would ever be is a company man. Several Mariner veterans are unhappy with Williams and when they got back from a road trip last week, some tried to lodge their complaints with general manager Dick Balderson, which only got them in deeper trouble with the manager. When Williams found out that Peter Ladd had complained about a lack of regular work, he called the reliever in, aired him out and finished the discussion by saying, "We can get you all the innings you want at Calgary." The Mariners are trying to get catcher Bill Schroeder from the Brewers, who can afford to trade him now that B.J. Surhoff is on the horizon for '87....
With Rick Honeycutt (complete with his new knuckler) pitching well after shoulder problems, Jerry Reuss is banished to the Dodger bullpen. He is trying to find a way to get the Dodgers to start him or to trade him.
ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO
Now that Jim Frey has been replaced by Gene Michael in the Cubs' dugout, the Chicago watch will concentrate on Tony La Russa and the Bay Area watch will be on Jackie Moore in Oakland. Many feel that Tom Haller's elevation to White Sox G.M. gives him a chance to study the club and be in place if Harrelson fires La Russa. Haller has long wanted to manage. The A's have reportedly given Moore until the All-Star break to turn that club around, which might be impossible with its shaky pitching. The annual Oakland pitching woes are such that Moore had to use seven starters in seven days. Andujar, Jay Howell, Moose Haas and Dwayne Murphy have been hurt and a winless seven-game road trip ended with the appearance of Rick Langford, Doug Bair, Dave Leiper and Dave Stewart in the same evening....
"The baseball players know how I feel about this change," Dallas Green said of the Frey firing. "I'm not very happy about it. I told them in no uncertain terms they contributed greatly to it. I won't forget what he did for this organization." Frey went quietly, saying simply, "If they quit on me, shame on them." His lifelong friend, third-base coach Don Zimmer, who was also sacked, said, "I don't think God could come down here and make this team win right now."
•Bob Tewksbury, the greatest Yankee to come out of Penacook, N.H., since Red Rolfe, is equally adept with a baseball or a drawing pencil in his right hand. The rookie lifted his record to 5-2 with five shutout innings against the Orioles on Thursday. Tewksbury hopes that someday his works of art—sketches of players and baseball illustrations—will be on display in a gallery.
•When Brewers owner Bud Selig headed the search committee for the commissioner two years ago, his three top choices were Treasury Secretary James A. Baker, A. Bartlett Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth. Baseball now has two of the three in its employ, with new National League president Giamatti in position to get two years' experience under his belt should the Republican party up and draft Ueberroth for the vice-presidential nomination in 1988....
Speculation about supposedly souped-up baseballs misses the mark. The reason so many home runs are being hit is that so many quality pitchers are hurt. The list of injured or ineffective starters includes: Blyleven, Candelaria, Morris, Stieb, McWilliams, Mahler, Eckersley, Trout, Ryan, Dotson, Hesketh, Browning, Hoyt, Cox, Petry, Andujar....
If you think those memorabilia shows aren't profitable, consider this: Pete Rose signed 3,000 cards in six hours at a San Fransisco show that paid him $15,000.
BOWA NOT MELLOW WITH AGE
In his playing days, Larry Bowa was renowned for his temper. Based on Bowa's two-month managerial career in Las Vegas, nothing has changed. He has been ejected four times and suspended twice. In the ninth inning of a game in which Bowa had been highly critical of umpire Pam Postema's calls behind the plate, she came out to break up a mound conference and ended up in an argument so heated that Bowa spit at her....
The latest evidence that management is trying to tighten the fiscal screws is a tacit agreement to limit spending on players in this month's draft to around $100,000. That is why only 10 of the 26 first-round selections had signed two weeks after the draft. To help teams hold the line, there is an agreement that if a team doesn't sign its No. 1 pick, it gets two selections in the first round in 1987 and if teams flagrantly violate the $100,000 limit, they will lose their '87 pick. "There are ways of getting around that $100,000 figure," says one G.M., and indeed, the first two picks—Arkansas third baseman Jeff King and Texas lefthander Greg Swindell—have each been offered slightly more than that. But it will be interesting to see what happens with the Mariners and Red Sox. Seattle took Whiteville, N.C., in-fielder Patrick Lennon, who is asking for $250,000 through agent James Jackson (Reggie's brother). Boston may have to break the bank to land Brockton, Mass., outfielder Greg McMurtry, a 6'3", 195-pound wide receiver who is a leading Michigan football recruit. There is considerable pressure on the Red Sox to sign McMurtry, the best athlete in the draft by consensus of scouting directors....
The survival of the Orioles' pitching staff through mid-June has rested on the shoulders of Mike Bodicker and Don Aase. Boddicker, who is so tough that he has 96 decisions in his last 104 starts, failed to go seven innings in only one of his first 11 starts—that when he tore a ligament in a finger and had to be put on the disabled list. After a complicated set of arm operations, Aase, 31, converted 17 of his first 20 save opportunities and is back throwing 93 mph the way he did when he was 20....
In the season's 51st game, Tom Herr finally got his first game-winning run batted in for the St. Louis Cardinals. The man who had 110 RBIs and 14 game-winners in a storybook 1985 season was hitting under .180 overall and under .160 with runners in scoring position. "I've had suggestions from so many people, I'm sick of it," says Herr. "I've had suggestions from the front office, the media, other ballplayers...."
But no one can explain why players and scouts say Herr looks like he aged 10 years over the winter....
The Brewers have told Ben Oglivie that they do not intend to renew his contract for 1987, despite his hitting .349 and running third on the club in RBIs. He may be available as a late-season pickup for a contender....
Brewer rookie pitcher Bill Wegman struggled for two months before realizing that he had a serious eyesight problem. He was 0-5 before getting glasses and is 2-0 since....
The Astros have quietly been shopping Dickie Thon. He got off to a .267 start with nine of his first 20 hits for extra bases, but since has gone 4 for 42 and asked to be disabled after an 0-for-17 slide. Eye doctors claim that his eyesight has improved. He says that it hasn't....
Pirates manager Jim Leyland nominates Billy Almon as the best utility-man in the game. "He's my MVP," says Leyland. "Every time I mess up, he's there to fill in," which Almon has done at five positions.
BETWEEN THE LINES
Wade Boggs became the first man since Ted Williams in 1941 to hit .400 over the course of a season's worth of games. During the Red Sox' final 107 games of the 1985 season, beginning June 13, Boggs hit .402 (173 for 430). Over the first 55 games of this season, through June 8, Boggs hit .395 (81 for 205). So in that stretch of 162 games Boggs was 254 for 635—an even .400. And don't expect him to wilt. In his first four seasons, Boggs averaged .342 before the All-Star break, .395 after. Through the first 59 games he had swung at and missed only 21 of the 1,192 pitches thrown to him.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
•"I know I'm leading the team in getting chewed out by Earl [Weaver]. This is three times now he has cursed my mother. The thing that really bothers me is that he keeps mentioning that word Rochester."—Baltimore pitcher Brad Havens.
•"I figured it was the only way I could win 300 games in 90 minutes."—San Diego pitcher Eric Show on his upcoming screen role as Christy Mathewson.
In a battle of 41-year-olds Don Sutton beat Tom Seaver for his 299th win on June 9. That game also featured a matchup of aging catchers, Bob Boone (38) and Carlton Fisk (37). Sutton versus 306-game winner Seaver was the greatest confrontation of total victories (604) since Aug. 26, 1926, when 408-game winner Walter Johnson met Red Faber, a 197-game winner. As for Sutton's performance, White Sox vice-president Ken Harrelson said, "He scuffed so many baseballs that had to be thrown out, we outfitted all the Catholic Youth Leagues of Chicago."
The Mets needed a onetime starter on June 9, so the call went to 29-year-old Rick Anderson, who had spent the last seven seasons at Tidewater. In his previous start for the Tides, Anderson rushed through 8‚Öì perfect innings against Toledo because his wife was due, then waited five days until Richard III was born. Anderson's father and mother, Richard I and Jeane, flew from Anchorage to New York to see Richard II's major league debut. Anderson came through with a solid seven innings of four-hit ball against the Phillies and left with a 3-2 lead, only to watch as the Mets' bullpen gave away the game. The next day Anderson was on his way back to Tidewater.
THE MICKEY KLUTTS INJURIES OF THE WEEK
Wade Boggs missed a start because of bruised ribs suffered when he fell against a couch in a Toronto hotel room pulling on his cowboy boots, and Oakland catcher Mickey Tettleton went on the disabled list with a foot infection that may have been caused by tying his shoelaces too tight.
•In consecutive games against the Yankees, Lee Lacy and Juan Beniquez—who previously had a combined total of three home runs—each had three-homer games. Lacy did it on June 8 to become the first righthanded batter since Ben Chapman in 1932 to hit three in Yankee Stadium. Beniquez hit his three on June 12 in Memorial Stadium, the only Oriole other than Bobby Grich (1974) ever to do it.
•The Mets have used the same batting order in three straight games only once, April 12-13-14. That also was their only three-game losing streak of the season.
•Early in June, Cross County Dodge ran ads in a New York tabloid offering a $250 deduction to anyone who bought a car within 24 hours of a Bobby Meacham hit, adding that if he got four hits, a buyer could save $1,000. Until he was sent to Columbus on Saturday, Meacham had had two hits since May 28.
•On the morning of Friday the 13th, the four last-place managers were Sparky Anderson, Dick Williams, Pete Rose and Whitey Herzog, who have 18 World Series rings between them.
•When the Brewers sold Bob McClure to the Expos June 8, hours before he was to become a 10/5 man, it meant that they no longer had a single pitcher left from their 1982 World Series staff.
•In their first 57 games, the Cardinals were outhomered 43-17.
GRIN AND BEER IT
Atlanta's Chuck Tanner is generally known for his optimism and sunny disposition. But the sight of fluffballing southpaw Mark Thurmond of the Padres throwing a three-hitter at the Braves in San Diego last week and knocking in all four Padre runs so angered Tanner that he hurled one half-filled beer can against a wall and crushed another one. "Doesn't he realize how valuable beer is around here?" cracked San Diego in-fielder Tim Flannery, referring to the Padres' recently imposed ban on beer in their home clubhouse.