Inside Baseball

Sept. 13, 1999
Sept. 13, 1999

Table of Contents
Sept. 13, 1999

Inside Baseball

California's also-rans, the Angels and Dodgers, look to the future

This is an article from the Sept. 13, 1999 issue Original Layout

Terry Collins knows what the Angels should do about the 1999
season. "Forget all about it," Collins said a week before he
tearfully announced his resignation last Friday as manager, with
Anaheim cemented in last place in the American League West, 28
games behind the Rangers and heading for the worst record in
Angels history. "Just cross it off and pretend it didn't happen."

In neighboring Los Angeles, where through Sunday the Dodgers
were six games under .500 and 15 1/2 games back in the National
League West, general manager Kevin Malone preaches a different
message: "I think it's impossible to forget about it. All that
we've gone through is going to motivate and make us better."

L.A., with the second-highest payroll ($79.3 million) in the
majors at the start of the year, and Anaheim, with the
12th-highest ($51.8 million), are the latest teams to learn that
off-season spending sprees sometimes buy more headaches than
happiness. As they play out the season, the two clubs are trying
to figure out how to avoid similar washouts next year.

If Step 1 for the Angels is finding a way to stay healthy--every
position but catcher, second and third base was disrupted by
projected starters spending time on the DL at some point this
season--Step 1(a) is mending the psychological wounds that
clearly run deep in their clubhouse. Collins, whose hard-driving
style alienated many of Anaheim's veterans, was finally driven
out by players' sniping at each other. The last straw was the
public spat between first baseman Mo Vaughn and closer Troy
Percival, who ripped Vaughn for not participating in the Angels'
brawl with the Indians on Aug. 31.

"This team just has bad chemistry, and I'm responsible," says
G.M. Bill Bavasi, whose own job may be in jeopardy. Adds
outfielder Tim Salmon, "We need to bring this family back

The situation up the freeway is barely jollier. "It's been a
collective effort," says Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros of a
season in which, through Sunday, L.A. had had just one winning
streak as long as five games and had gone 34-39 against teams
with losing records. Still, Malone says he has no plans to
overhaul the Dodgers again this off-season. "We'll make some
small modifications," he says, insisting that Los Angeles,
talented on paper, just needs time to jell.

Even if Malone wanted to rebuild, his hands would be tied
because finding takers for high-salaried veterans such as
shortstop Mark Grudzielanek, second baseman Eric Young and
outfielders Raul Mondesi and Devon White would be difficult. For
the sake of team chemistry, though, Malone may be forced to
unload Mondesi and Young, both of whom have been critical of
management, for a song.

The Dodgers also need to find a permanent position for Todd
Hollandsworth, the 1996 National League Rookie of the Year.
Hollandsworth was hitting .293 in 205 at bats and had brought
lefthanded pop to a mostly righthanded lineup; he'll get playing
time at all three outfield positions and at first this month in
hopes of determining his best spot.

Too bad he can't catch. Though Todd Hundley says his surgically
repaired elbow is pain-free, it's doubtful that he can be an
every-day backstop again. Rookie Angel Pena, who spelled Hundley
earlier this season, also struggled, hitting .208 in 43 games
before being sent down to Triple A Albuquerque.

Because they tumbled out of contention early, the Angels have
been able to focus on prospects who should help them next
season. Catcher Ben Molina has been solid since his call-up on
Aug. 3 and will get most of the starts down the stretch. Rookie
righthander Ramon Ortiz (1-1, 4.68 in four starts) has made a
strong bid to be part of the rotation in 2000. Several veterans
may also be playing to prove they deserve to stick around under
the new manager. Said Bavasi last week, "We're in the middle of
some intense evaluations, and we're seeing how people react in
adverse conditions."

Reds Hot Prospect

Since being picked by the Reds in the second round of the June
draft, former McNeese State first baseman Ben Broussard has gone
from the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs of the rookie-level Pioneer
League to Class A Clinton (Iowa) to Double A Chattanooga, where
he has been playing first base and leftfield for the Lookouts.
Lookout, indeed. The 22-year-old Broussard, dubbed Hobbs (as in
Roy Hobbs of The Natural) by his Billings teammates, is clearly
worth keeping an eye on. On July 12, less than a month after his
pro debut, the lefthanded-hitting Broussard went 5 for 5 against
Great Falls. His output included three home runs--a two-run
homer, a three-run shot and a grand slam--two doubles and 11
RBIs. Broussard had a sixth trip to the plate with the bases
empty but was intentionally walked.

Two weeks later, with his Billings numbers reading like the
stats of Ted Williams on andro (.407, with 48 RBIs in 38 games),
he was promoted to Clinton. In five games there he hit .550 with
seven extra-base hits and six RBIs. "I'd just found an apartment
in Clinton, started meeting some of the guys, and then I was
gone," says Broussard. "Golly, I barely knew the [Clinton]
manager's name when I was called up to Chattanooga."

That promotion came on July 31. Two days later he crushed a home
run for his first Double A hit. "Everything that's happened, I
just couldn't imagine it," says Broussard, who hit a school- and
Southland Conference-record 27 home runs for McNeese last year
after going undrafted following his junior season. "Here in
Chattanooga it's like a different world. They have a big ol'
spread of food after the game, and you don't even have to carry
your own luggage."

Though Broussard's magical mystery tour seems certain to
continue with an invitation to the Reds' spring training camp
next February, he did finally hit a bump in the road: Through
Sunday he was batting just .218 for Chattanooga, with eight home
runs and 21 RBIs in 34 games. "I had a little rough spell," he
says. "But, golly, who would've even thought I'd be here?"

Stretch Run Slump

Blue Jays hitting coach Gary Matthews is very diplomatic when
asked about the current state-at-the-plate of Toronto's All-Star
rightfielder, Shawn Green. "I wouldn't say Shawn's in a slump,"
says Matthews, "but he's slightly off on pitches that earlier
this season he was firmly hitting."

Call Green's drop-off what you will, after a spectacular start
this year he is struggling at a very inopportune time. Since the
All-Star break, when his numbers (.327, 25 homers, 70 RBIs) made
him an MVP candidate, Green had only 11 homers and 38 RBIs
through Sunday. In August he batted just .248 with three homers
while the Jays went 12-16 and dropped as far as five games behind
the Red Sox in the wild-card chase.

Green, 26, isn't the only young star to wobble in a race this
season. The Reds' second-year first baseman, Sean Casey, who was
batting as high as .373 in late July, went through a horrific
19-for-104 swoon in August that dropped his average to a
season-low .330 on Aug. 24. Cincinnati manager Jack McKeon,
sensing that Casey was wearing down, sat him for two straight
starts. "He just got in a rut," says McKeon. "He made some
adjustments, and he's been more selective." Casey returned to
the starting lineup on Aug. 27 and through Sunday had gone 17
for 38, lifting his average back to .341. "Sean is too good of a
hitter to not hit for too long," says McKeon.

Toronto manager Jim Fregosi says the same thing about his Shawn,
who is also showing signs of fatigue as the year goes on. In his
four previous big league seasons, Green had been a slow starter;
for example, in 1998 he batted .232 in April and .322 in August.
Early last month Toronto coaches noticed that Green's swing,
generally compact and fluid, had become a bit longer. "That
happens when you get tired," says Green, who briefly returned to
form by going 3 for 3 with a two-run homer in last Friday's 5-4
win over the Royals. "You change your swing a little, and as a
result you don't drive the ball as well. It's frustrating, but
the best thing to do is not worry too much. The second wind
comes, and you get back in the groove. Sooner or later, it'll

The Jays are hoping for sooner. This season, through Sunday,
Toronto had gone 25-8 in games in which Green homered. When he'd
had at least two hits, they were 35-15. When Green had gone
hitless, however, as he had 12 times since the All-Star break,
Toronto was 5-7. "Of course we need Shawn to produce," says
Matthews, whose team was four games behind Boston in the
wild-card race at week's end. "He's an essential guy in this

Mariners' Pitching Picks Up

The list of pitchers drafted and discarded by the Mariners in
the past decade or so reads like the league-leaders list in your
morning paper. There's Mike Hampton, Matt Mantei, Shawn Estes,
Dave Burba and Derek Lowe, to name a few, all accomplished
starters or relievers helping contenders make playoff pushes
this season. Only three teams--the Dodgers, Indians and
Braves--had bred more pitchers who were on major league rosters
as of June 1 than the 16 Seattle had developed, according to The
Seattle Times. Unfortunately for the Mariners, only three of
those 16 were still in Seattle, a fact that goes a long way
toward explaining why the Mariners have finished among the
bottom five in the American League in pitching each of the past
three seasons and, through Sunday, had a league-worst 5.52 ERA.

The future looks brighter for Seattle, however, and not just
because the Mariners have fled the ERA-inflating Kingdome for
ERA-deflating Safeco Field. Beginning with the July 31, 1998,
trade that sent Randy Johnson to the Astros for pitchers Freddy
Garcia and John Halama and second baseman Carlos Guillen,
Seattle has undergone a sea change. Instead of using minor
league pitchers as trade bait for veterans, the Mariners have
been stockpiling young arms for the last 13-plus months. Since
the Johnson deal, Seattle has acquired six young pitchers who
were either in Triple A or had only scant major league
experience. "Basically, with our pitching we've patched a tire
here for a long time," says manager Lou Piniella. "Now we're
trying to put on a new set of wheels."

To that end, through Sunday Piniella had used 27 pitchers--two
short of the major league record for a season set by the Angels
in 1996. The 27-year-old Halama, a lefthander who'd had six
major league starts when the Astros sent him to Seattle, and
Garcia, 22, a righty who made his big league debut this season,
each were mainstays in the rotation by June. They were joined in
July by flame-throwing 21-year-old righthander Gil Meche, the
Mariners' top draft pick in '96. "Some people might say we're
rushing these guys," says Bryan Price, Seattle's minor league
pitching coordinator, "but I'd rather have the opportunity to
pitch in the big leagues at 22 and fall on my face than not to
have it at all."

Garcia, a 6'4", 210-pound horse who complements his mid-90s
fastball with an above-average curve and changeup, was 14-7 with
a 4.28 ERA through Sunday and had a shot at winning more games
than any American League rookie since Mark Fidrych had 19
victories in 1976. Halama, whose style mimics that of Mariners'
veteran Jamie Moyer, a soft-throwing lefthander, was 11-5 with a
4.10 ERA, had walked just 48 batters in 142 2/3 innings and
earlier in the season reeled off a streak of nine straight wins.
Meche, who started the season with Double A New Haven and jumped
to the majors after six starts at Triple A Tacoma, had been
erratic--witness his 5-4 record--but has the Mariners convinced
he'll be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. With the three rookies,
Moyer and righthander Paul Abbott, the Seattle starters, who
were a combined 24 games over .500 and make a modest total of
about $3.1 million, seem set for next season. Now that several
more rookies are gaining experience in the bullpen and touted
prospect Ryan Anderson is about a year away, Seattle's pitching
wheels at last seem to be on a roll.

For complete scores and stats, plus Tom Verducci's mailbag, go

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY MATT BROWN L.A. Flaw Third baseman Adrian Beltre of the struggling Dodgers couldn't come up with this foul ball off the bat of Jeromy Burnitz in a 5-4 Brewers' win over Los Angeles (page 96). [Leading Off]COLOR PHOTO: DONALD MIRALLE/ALLSPORT The rundown on Mondesi: Underproductive and unhappy, he may be on the way out in L.A.COLOR PHOTO: TOM DIPACE Vaughn is pained by the fall of the Angels.COLOR PHOTO: V.J. LOVERO/LG After an MVP start, Green has struggled at the plate.COLOR PHOTO: TOM DIPACE

The Standings

The Mets' Edgardo Alfonzo was second among big league second
basemen with 24 home runs through Sunday. Yet among current
starting middle infield duos, Alfonzo and Mets shortstop Rey
Ordonez (0 dingers) were 11th in combined homers. Here are the
teams whose middle infielders had shown the most pop this

--David Sabino


1. Mariners David Bell (17) Alex Rodriguez (36) 53
Rodriguez's 11.3 at bats per home run was third best in majors;
since All-Star break, Bell had just two homers

2. Yankees Chuck Knoblauch (16) Derek Jeter (22) 38
Knoblauch's 62 runs batted in were third best in American League
among leadoff men; Jeter's 90 RBIs are second best among

3T. Diamondbacks Jay Bell (32) Andy Fox (5) 37
Only three second basemen--Rogers Hornsby (42 and 39 twice),
Davey Johnson (43) and Ryne Sandberg (40) have hit more homers
in a season than Bell had hit so far this year

3T. Giants Jeff Kent (19) Rich Aurilia (18) 37
With 157 career homers, Kent among alltime power elite at second
base; Aurilia has hit nearly as many this year as in four
previous seasons (19) combined

5. Braves Bret Boone (17) Jose Hernandez (18) 35
Among Braves shortstops, only Denis Menke (20 in 1964) has hit
20 home runs in a year

6T. Athletics Randy Velarde (13) Miguel Tejada (18) 31
Last A's second sacker to end season with more than 14 homers
was Davey Lopes (17) in 1983

6T. Blue Jays Homer Bush (5) Tony Batista (26) 31
Despite Bush's first name, Batista has the power: He had hit 21
homers since joining Toronto in June trade

8T. Indians Roberto Alomar (23) Omar Vizquel (4) 27
Alomar was hitting .328 with 105 RBIs; Vizquel, who has never
hit .300 for year, was at .334

8T. Red Sox Jose Offerman (6) Nomar Garciaparra (21) 27
Garciaparra also led league in hitting (.354); Offerman's home
run high was seven in 1998

8T. Tigers Damion Easley (19) Deivi Cruz (8) 27
Easley on verge of becoming first Detroit second sacker with 20
or more homers in three consecutive seasons

in the BOX

Sept. 4, 1999
Reds 22, Phillies 3

The night began with Cincinnati tied with L.A. for seventh in
the National League in home runs. Four hours later, after
bashing a league-record nine homers off six Philadelphia
pitchers, the Reds, with 165, had moved up to fourth. Eddie
Taubensee hit two. Greg Vaughn belted his 30th. Even the
power-deprived Mark Lewis (six) and Brian Johnson (five) got
into the act. Phillies starter Paul Byrd allowed his 25th, 26th
and 27th homers of the season. After Billy Brewer worked one
third of an inning, Philadelphia brought in righty Cliff
Politte, who was rudely rocked for six runs in his one third of
an inning. Oddly, Politte avoided giving up a long ball. Not so
Chad Ogea, who permitted three shots and took over the league
lead for homers allowed with 35.

the HOT corner

In his campaign to become the Athletics' full-time closer,
righthander Jason Isringhausen, acquired along with Greg
McMichael from the Mets for Billy Taylor on July 31, has almost
abandoned his curveball and changeup. "As a closer all you
really need is a fastball and a slider that looks like a
fastball," says Isringhausen, who in 12 appearances for Oakland
had three saves and a 1.10 ERA through Sunday. "When you're
starting, you have to think about setting hitters up with
different pitches for later on. Now, I just think about getting
them out."...

Nobody has endured a faster fall from grace this season than
Jose Cruz Jr., the Blue Jays' onetime centerfielder of the
future. Cruz, who hit only .228 in 90 games with Toronto this
season, was sent down on Aug. 6 and wasn't called up when the
roster was expanded on Sept. 1. He was batting .188 for Triple A

Brewers farm director Cecil Cooper, considered a candidate for
Milwaukee's vacant general managership, has told the Brewers
he's leaving to move to Houston and work for sports agent Alan

Rangers righty Jeff Zimmerman saw his ERA rise from 1.16 to 2.06
after back-to-back four-run appearances against the Tigers last
week. Zimmerman was struggling with his slider, one of which
light-hitting Deivi Cruz crushed for his eighth homer of the
year, on Sept. 2. Zimmerman allowed only five runs in his first
59 2/3 innings but had been scored on in six of his last 14

Through Sunday, Royals righty Jose Rosado had pitched four
complete games this season, as many as six teams and more than
the Indians, who have three, and the Brewers and the Mets, who
each have two. He lost all four of the decisions....

Dodgers reliever Mike Maddux (1-1, 3.00) had a better ERA
through Sunday than his kid brother, Greg (17-6, 3.48)....

The Orioles are talking contract extension with ace righthander
Mike Mussina, who is finishing the second year of a three-year,
$20.5 million deal. "I don't see myself as a $100 million
player," says Mussina, who was 15-7 with a 3.60 ERA, "but I've
got to be fair to myself. There are a lot of teams out there,
and a lot of people who think I'm a pretty good pitcher."...

Plenty of players sport hand-lettered tributes to teammates or
friends on their caps; Expos reliever Steve Kline has taken the
practice a step further. With a marker he wrote A-Z on one side
of his cap and 1-100 on the other. Says Kline, "This way I've
got everyone covered."

Arms Trading

In addition to big league rookies Freddy Garcia (left), John
Halama and Gil Meche, the Mariners have 20-year-old, 6'10"
fireballer Ryan Anderson (9-13, 4.50 at Double A New Haven
through Sunday) in their minor league system. They've also
acquired these five pitchers since the season began.

Kevin Hodges, righthander, age 26
Acquired: June 20, from Astros, for outfielder Matt Mieske
Stats: 13 games, 3-3, 3.42 ERA at Triple A Tacoma

Todd Williams, righthander, age 28
Acquired: July 22 from Reds, for outfielder Kerry Robinson
Stats: 25 saves in Triple A before Aug. 7 call-up; through
Sunday, sidearmer had six strikeouts in five innings with Seattle

Robert Ramsay, lefthander, age 25
Acquired: July 26 from Red Sox, for outfielder Butch Huskey
Stats: 4-1, 1.08 ERA in five starts at Triple A Tacoma; called
up to Mariners on Aug. 27

Tom Davey, righthander, age 26
Acquired: July 28 from Blue Jays, for first baseman David Segui
Stats: 1-1, 5.24 ERA in 38 games with Blue Jays and Mariners
this season

Steve Sinclair, lefthander, age 28
Acquired: July 28 from Blue Jays, for Segui
Stats: 18 saves, 2.06 ERA in Triple A for Blue Jays; 8.16 ERA
in 14 games with Blue Jays and Mariners in 1999