THE AX FALLS
Now that John Wathan of the Royals has been rehired for 1991, it's likely that every major league skipper currently managing will be back next season. However, the same cannot be said for general managers. The White Sox announced on Sept. 15 that their general manager, Larry Himes, won't be back next year, and others may soon follow. Here's a status report:
White Sox. Before his split with the team, Himes, who orchestrated Chicago's rebound from cellar dweller to contender, was the leading candidate for executive of the year. But White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said he didn't believe Himes was capable of bringing Chicago to the next level. "A year ago everyone was stunned when I rehired Larry, because our record was bad," Reinsdorf said a week before the announcement. "But it's more than our record. Where are you in advancing toward the goal of winning a championship?"
The split occurred in part because Himes and Reinsdorf didn't get along. Reinsdorf also felt pressure to make the announcement before the end of the season because a number of White Sox scouts and minor league personnel hired by Himes had already begun looking for new jobs.
Who will replace Himes? As with many teams, the job will probably be divided in two. Speculation is that the Sox's eye in the sky, Joe Nossek, will take over player evaluation, and Dan Evans, the director of baseball administration, will handle player contracts and other administrative duties.
Braves. Bobby Cox, who is both Atlanta's general manager and field manager, will definitely be asked to give up the former position after this season. (He will probably be rehired as manager.) Braves president Stan Kasten, who is also the president of the NBA Hawks, will spend considerably more time with the Braves next year and will be responsible for negotiating contracts. Atlanta will also hire a director of baseball operations to make trades. A number of people have been mentioned for that position, including Sandy Johnson, scouting director for the Rangers. Don't look for the job to be filled by former general managers Syd Thrift or Murray Cook.
Pirates. General manager Larry Doughty's bungling of the waiver process last month cost Pittsburgh two top outfield prospects, Wes Chamberlain and Julio Peguero, both of whom wound up with the National League East rival Phillies in exchange for Carmelo Martinez. Pirate president Carl Barger said the foul-ups were "embarrassing" to the franchise, and sources said they put Doughty's job in jeopardy. But if the Pirates win the National League East, it will be difficult to fire Doughty. He isn't the only general manager who has been confused by the arcane waiver rules.
Padres. Jack McKeon's status remains unclear, but he has one year remaining on his contract, and San Diego would rather not eat any contracts. If McKeon remains as general manager, San Diego may bring in someone to oversee the business and baseball operations. In that scenario, McKeon would act as a talent evaluator and deal maker, two roles in which he excels.
Royals. General manager John Schuerholz will most likely be promoted to president, perhaps as early as this winter, replacing Joe Burke, who is expected to retire. That will make room for Joe Klein, the assistant general manager, to step into Schuerholz's current spot. Kansas City has been baseball's biggest flop this year, and Schuerholz admits that he was the one who recommended spending .9 million for disappointing free-agent pitchers Mark Davis and Storm Davis. But Schuerholz is not being kicked upstairs, according to insiders.
Klein is Schuerholz's hand-picked successor. He has failed before as a general manager—with the Rangers (1982-84) and the Indians (1985-87)—but this appointment should prove a different story. At least Klein will have some talent at his disposal.
September has turned into Up with Family Month. On Sept. 14, Ken Griffey Sr. and his son Ken Jr. hit back-to-back homers off the Angels' Kirk McCaskill—another major league first for the father-son combo. The next day, Cal and Billy Ripken of the Orioles hit homers in the same inning off David Wells of the Blue Jays, thus becoming the first brothers to have home runs in the same game for the same team since Billy and Tony Conigliaro of the Red Sox blasted a couple against the Washington Senators on Sept. 19, 1970.
On Sept. 5, Mel Stottlemyre Jr. of the Royals allowed one hit in seven innings en route to a 3-0 loss to the White Sox. Two days later, Chicago was beaten by Mel's brother, Todd Stottlemyre of the Blue Jays; Todd allowed one run in eight innings in the 3-1 victory. Said Chicago manager Jeff Torborg, "I'm glad Mel Sr. can't still pitch."
On Aug. 8, the National League East-leading Pirates traded relief pitcher Scott Ruskin to the Expos. It's very likely that the Pittsburgh players will vote Ruskin a share of their postseason bonanza should they win the division title. That means Ruskin could benefit financially if his new team's rival succeeds.
Before the series in Montreal last weekend, Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere said jokingly, "We told Scott, 'If you do too well against us, no shares.' He just got a new truck. If he does well, we might have it repossessed. If he messes up, we might buy him some new tires."
LaValliere then said, seriously, that there's no way Ruskin would consider grooving a few fastballs to help the Pirates. He was right. In Montreal's 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh last Saturday, Ruskin faced three hitters, allowed no runs and struck out two. On Sunday, as the Pirates lost to the Expos again, 4-1, Ruskin went 1⅖ innings, gave up no hits and got two strikeouts—and the win.
THIN IS IN
Move over, Oil Can Boyd, you 147-pound brute. Now there's an even lighter pitcher in the majors—Dan Boone, the 142-pound lefthander who was recalled by the Orioles on Saturday from Triple A Rochester. Boone, 36, is the slightest major league pitcher since Bobby Shantz, who weighed in at 139 pounds while playing for several teams from 1949 to '64. According to Oriole p.r. director Rick Vaughn, Boone will have to go on a serious diet if he's going to beat out the lightest lightweight of them all, Kid Keenan, who pitched one game for the Cincinnati Kellys of the American Association in 1891. He weighed 95 pounds.
Frank White's career as a Royal will certainly end after this season. Kansas City has no interest in re-signing him, but White says he doesn't plan to retire. On Sept. 11, White got the 2,000th hit of his career, a double off Frank Wills of the Blue Jays, and afterward he said, "It was like 3,000 for me." White's first hit came in 1973 off Doyle Alexander, who, like White, was born on Sept. 4, 1950....
A change needs to be made in the Gold Glove selection process. The voters should pick a player for each outfield position, instead of listing their choices of the three slickest fielding outfielders regardless of position. There is a huge difference between the defensive requirements for a centerfielder and those for a left-or right-fielder....
If the A's Rickey Henderson wins his league's MVP award, he will become only the third American Leaguer, after Phil Rizzuto of the '50 Yankees and Zoilo Versalles of the '65 Twins, to become an MVP while hitting mostly in the leadoff spot. If Cecil Fielder of the Tigers wins the award and Detroit finishes under .500, he would be the league's first MVP to come from a team with a losing record....
One of the unsung trades of the '80s occurred when the Reds got pitcher Norm Charlton (and infielder Tim Barker) from the Expos for infielder Wayne Krenchicki in 1986. If Cincinnati makes the playoffs, Charlton (12-7, 2.40 ERA through Sunday) may start Game 1. Krenchicki was last seen playing in the Senior League this past winter....
Yankee rookie Steve Adkins walked eight batters in 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings in his major league debut, on Sept. 12. "I didn't want to raise any expectations," said Adkins. The eight walks were one more than Oakland's Dennis Eckersley has allowed in the past two seasons....
The Orioles are considering re-signing catcher Mickey Tettleton, who will be eligible for free agency. Tettleton was hitting .222 at week's end and may become the fifth player ever to finish with 100 more strikeouts than runs batted in. He had fanned 150 times and had only 46 RBIs. Is he worth $3 million over the next two years?