A PUZZLING TRADE
It is not difficult to understand why the Dodgers were interested in trading first baseman Pedro Guerrero for Cardinals pitching ace John Tudor last week. The Dodgers badly needed a lefthanded starter to replace the injured Fernando Valenzuela, and Tudor, who is 50-15 since May 29, 1985, and is leading the National League with a 2.22 ERA, is one of the two or three best lefties in the majors. What is baffling about the deal is what the Cardinals get out of it. Why would they trade their best pitcher for a player who, despite his .310 lifetime average going into this season, has been dogged by injuries for years? Guerrero has been sidelined a good part of the season with a pinched nerve, and though he is only 32, one Dodger official says he has "a 40-year-old body." Before one of his first games as a Cardinal, Guerrero shook hands with oft-injured Astro pitcher Joaquin Andujar, and Houston bullpen assistant Strech Suba said, "That's a trainer's nightmare right there."
The Dodgers couldn't believe it when the Cardinals proposed the trade. They had already decided to get rid of Guerrero—in part because they were 29-30 with him in the lineup and 38-21 without him—and had worked out a deal with Detroit involving minor league lefty Steve Searcy. And though the Tigers need power hitting badly, they had no intention of offering Guerrero a multi-year contract to keep him from becoming a free agent at the end of the season.
Clearly this was a panic move on the part of the Cardinals. They needed a solid hitter to make up for the mistakes of letting first baseman Jack Clark go to the Yankees in the off-season and then trying to fill his spot with injury-plagued Bob Horner. The Cardinals were hoping to sign Expo outfielder Tim Raines, who may be granted free-agent status later this year by arbitrator George Nicolau. But when Raines indicated that he planned to sign a reported three-year, $6.8 million extension of his contract rather than test the free-agent market, the Cardinals turned their sights on Guerrero. As a result, rather than giving Clark the two-year, $3 million contract he requested, the Cardinals will be paying Guerrero $6.2 million for three years and Horner $950,000 this season. Together, Guerrero and Horner probably won't provide as much offensive clout as Clark did alone.
As might be expected, the deal was not popular with the Dodgers' rivals in the National League West race. "The Dodgers got a top-quality pitcher for a minus," said Astro pitcher Bob Knepper, summing up his team's reaction. The Giants were equally unamused, particularly because they had also made a bid for Tudor. They offered infielder Tony Perezchica and pitcher Trevor Wilson to St. Louis, but they backed down when the Cardinals asked them to throw in third baseman Matt Williams.
With the addition of Tudor, the Dodgers have suddenly put together one of the best rotations in their division. They have an ace in Orel Hershiser (17-7, 2.92 ERA) and a resurgent Tim Leary (14-8, 2.41 ERA), and three days before Tudor's arrival on Aug. 16, rookie righthander Ramon Martinez made the first of two brilliant starts. By the end of the second game, Martinez had given up only two runs in 14.2 innings, and the Dodgers were convinced they had discovered another Mario Soto. The 20-year-old, who has a fastball clocked in the 90's and a superb changeup, has arms so long that teammates claim he can tie his shoes without bending over. Soon L.A. fans may even forgive general manager Fred Claire for his gravest sin so far: trading pitcher Bob Welch to the Athletics.
A GENTLEMEN'S GAME?
The days of making a deal by putting a player on waivers and having the other team pick him up may be nearing an end. Earlier this month, the Athletics, knowing that Minnesota was in the market for a pitcher, claimed Seattle's Mike Moore and Montreal's Bryn Smith, forcing those teams to remove the players' names from the waiver list and killing any trade possibilities. Last week, when Minnesota put second baseman Tommy Herr's name on the list with the intention of trading him to Philadelphia for outfielder Phil Bradley, the A's blocked that deal, too. "The gentlemen's agreement [among the owners] to let everyone go through waivers is bunk," says one American League general manager. "Why shouldn't I A's general manager Sandy] Alderson try to block the Twins? They did it to him last year when he was trying to make a deal with the White Sox for [pitcher] Richard Dotson. [Chicago general manager Larry] Himes sent a memo to all the clubs complaining about the Dotson thing, but this is a competitive business."
When White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk broke Rick Ferrell's American League record Aug. 19 by catching his 1,807th game, it was no small feat. In 1974 Fisk's left knee was shattered in a home plate collision with Cleveland's Leron Lee. Since then he has broken his right arm, blown out his right elbow, suffered a serious abdominal injury and a broken hand and played a good part of the 1986 season in leftfield. "Now here he is at 40, and he's still the best catcher in the league—by far," says White Sox manager Jim Fregosi. "That he could set this record with all he's been through is a testament to his incredible work ethic and the fact that he's as tough a man as anyone who has ever played. There's no question about his going into the Hall of Fame." The next mark Fisk will go after is Johnny Bench's career home run record for catchers (327). As of Sunday, Fisk was only nine homers behind Yogi Berra, who is second on the list, with 306.
WHAT'S AILING DOC
Things had always come naturally for Mets ace Dwight Gooden, who refers to himself as "the laziest man in the world." He says, "I've never done anything, no exercises ever. I never even did jumping jacks." Then last week he beat the Giants 13-6 for his 14th win and admitted that he was worried about his shoulder. "I'm scared. I've never had anything like this before," he said. "I can't believe it's happening to me." According to Mets head trainer Steve Garland. Gooden has "weakness and pain in the muscles of the rotator cuff," but the cuff itself is not damaged, and Gooden should be able to cure the problem with—believe it or not—some exercises.
PITCH OF THE DECADE
"People talk about the pitch of the '80s being the split-finger fastball/forkball," says Toronto catcher Sal Butera, "but it's really the circle changeup." Butera, who has caught two of the best changeup artists—Minnesota's Frank Viola and Cincinnati's John Franco—appreciates what this deceptive pitch, which allows a pitcher to change the speed of the ball without altering his motion, has done for the Twins' 24-year-old lefty, Allan Anderson. Anderson's nickname is Frankie Jr., because he imitates Viola's style. He was 4-8 in Triple A last season, but this year he is 11-7 and has the league's third-best ERA (2.66)....
Two-time batting champ Tony Gwynn of the Padres has climbed back into contention for the National League crown after hitting as low as .237 on June 13, but he's still not satisfied. "If I win the batting title." he says, "I'll put the silver bat right up there with the other two. But I won't be as proud of this one because I stunk the first three months."...
Most of 60 bases stolen last season by Mariners second baseman Harold Reynolds involved headfirst slides. But he ended the season so banged up he decided to go feetfirst this year. The result? Reynolds is 27 for 50. Last year, in contrast, he was caught stealing only 20 times....
The Cubs would like their two hitting phenoms, first baseman Mark Grace and outfielder Rafael Palmeiro, to try to pull the ball occasionally for more power. "We've talked about [Yankee first baseman] Don Mattingly and how he'll use counts and situations and try to drive the ball," says Chicago general manager Jim Frey. "It's a matter of experience."...
Why does Yankee owner George Steinbrenner want to dump power-hitting third baseman Mike Pagliarulo? The Boss was willing to trade Pags to the Mariners last month for third baseman Jim Presley as part of the Jay Buhner-Ken Phelps deal or to the White Sox for infielder Steve Lyons—until manager Lou Piniella talked him out of it....
Last week Dave Stieb added his name to the Toronto Bellyaching Society and asked to be traded. Said Jays pitcher Mike Flanagan, "We've had so many people paint themselves into corners that our clubhouse is shaped like the Pentagon."
BETWEEN THE LINES
WHEN IN NEW ENGLAND...
When the Maine Phillies, a Triple A team in the International League, decided to give away batting helmets as a promotion for an Aug. 18 game against the Pawtucket Red Sox, which helmets do you think they chose? That's right, Boston Red Sox helmets.
WILLIE AND THE BABE
The Yankees celebrated the 40th anniversary of Babe Ruth's death on Aug. 16 by hitting five home runs in a game against the Angels at Yankee Stadium. But California pitcher Willie Fraser stole the show by making a sliding catch of a pop foul that carried him into the Yankee dugout and by tagging out Yankee speedster Rickey Henderson after realizing that Henderson had missed the plate. Fraser pitched 6‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings, despite giving up the five dingers, and the Angels won 15-6. When reporters asked Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann why Fraser wasn't pulled out earlier, Lachemann said, "I'd go to the wall for Willie. Sometimes I even have to go over the wall."
WHY THEY'RE CALLED THE O'S
Anyone who thinks the Orioles are on the rebound should consider their 10-4 loss to the Athletics on Aug. 17. Not only did the O's pitchers give up Ruthian homers to A's sluggers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, but they also issued the same number of walks (10) as Baltimore hitters had picked up in their previous six games. Oriole manager Frank Robinson wasn't surprised by the length of the fiasco. "When you parade 10 batters down to first, and there are 15 hits and 5,000 errors, it's going to take about 3:35," he said. 'Then there were their moon shots. It takes time to clear the atmosphere."
NO ESCAPE FOR THE SCAPEGOAT
Royals rookie catcher Mike Macfarlane's luck has gone from bad to worse since he was optioned to Omaha in July. On Aug. 15 he broke his thumb trying to tag out a runner in the second inning of a game against the Indianapolis Indians and will be out for the season.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Former Angel manager Gene Mauch, on what he misses about the game: "I miss innings one through nine, but not Cleveland or Detroit."
THIS IS "PRO" BASEBALL!?!
On Aug. 17 the New Britain Red Sox and the Pittsfield Cubs were locked in a 1-1 stalemate in the top of the ninth, with one out and runners on first and third. Pittsfield's Bob Bafia tried a suicide squeeze but popped the ball up to New Britain pitcher Odie Abril, who caught it and threw to first for a double play and the end of the inning. Or so Abril thought. The problem was, the Cubs' Jackie Davidson took off from third as soon as the pitch was made and crossed the plate before Abril's throw reached first. Because New Britain failed to appeal the fact that Davidson had left too early, the run counted, and Pittsfield won 2-1.
•In his first 18 starts this season, Seattle's Scott Bankhead faced 95 batters with runners in scoring position and allowed 19 hits. In his Aug. 16 shutout of the Red Sox, Bank-head faced 15 batters with runners in scoring position and retired them all.
•For the first time in their history, the Pirates have sold more than two million tickets in a season. Through Aug. 14 fans had purchased 2,031,697 tickets.
•The Padres were the first National League team with four 10-game winners—Eric Show, Dennis Rasmussen, Andy Hawkins and Ed Whitson. The Padres are 12-1 in games Rasmussen has started since he was acquired on June 8 from Cincinnati for minor leaguer Candy Sierra.
•Kansas City prospect Tom Gordon, now in Triple A, has 243 strikeouts, the best in the pros, and is 13-5 while pitching for Appleton, Memphis and Omaha.
•Dodger pitcher Tim Leary picked up game-winning RBIs in two consecutive games, on Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. In the second game, which was against the Giants, Leary got a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning after .167-hitting shortstop Alfredo Griffin was intentionally walked. At the time, Leary was hitting .306.
•The only catcher who has been able to throw out Montreal's Otis Nixon (33 steals this season) is San Diego's Benito Santiago.
What's the worst scenario for a pitcher who has just loaded the bases? Facing Pat Tabler. Kansas City's DH is a lifetime .290 hitter, but with the sacks full he has batted .565. Here are the best—and worst—hitters who have had at least 10 at bats with the bags packed in '87 and '88.
Pat Tabler, Rotals
Alan Trammell, Tigers
Mike Aldrete, Giants
Dale Murphy, Braves
Pedro Guerrero, Cardinals
Casey Candaele, Astros
Jerry Mumphrey, Cubs
Kevin Mitchell, Giants
Ranee Mulliniks, Blue Jays
Pete Incaviglia, Rangers
Mickey Brantley, Mariners
Through Aug. 20
SOURCE: STATS, INC.