ROCKY: Which is why the White Sox will protect him.
MARLON: Wrong, my friend. Thigpen had a bad year, he was booed brutally at Comiskey, and he needs a change of scenery. Plus, his contract calls for more than $3 million next year. The Sox have a lot of good young pitchers they have to keep. So Thigpen could go unprotected, along with Tim Raines and George Bell and Steve Sax.
ROCKY: What do you need a closer for? You're an expansion team. You're going to lose 100 games. You need a closer like we need a victory-parade route. There are plenty of closers available—Lee Smith, Mitch Williams, John Franco—but they all make lots of dough, and they're not getting any younger.
MARLON: YOU still have to win games—pass the beer nuts—and a closer is important to any team. If you have a bunch of young pitchers who bust their tails for seven innings every night only to see some stiff kick the game away, what will that do for their confidence? A good closer is more important than a good starter.
ROCKY: Even if you are right, Smith, Williams and Franco are all too rich for our blood. So we're taking lefthander Mike Stanton off the Braves' roster. They have so many relievers down there they don't have room for them all. I'm sure they'll try to trade him before the draft, but Stanton is ours if they can't. He's only 25, he throws hard, and he has a chance to be a top-notch closer. To ease him in we might also sign Jeff Reardon—the alltime saves leader—to a one-year contract as a free agent. He's going to be 37 next year, but he can teach the others how to win.
MARLON: If we want The Terminator, we'll pick up a copy at the nearest Blockbuster. Signing free agents is a crapshoot. If you sign a Type A free agent, the best kind, you have to give up a first- or second-round draft choice as compensation. No building team gives up first-round choices, unless you're Ted Stepien running the Cleveland Cavaliers into the ground.
ROCKY: If Reardon is a Type A, free agent, I mean—we know he's not a Type A personality—then we'll go after Doug Jones of Houston instead. He's another veteran who knows how to win and loves to teach young guys. Or maybe the Cardinals' Todd Worrell.
MARLON: Just to show you that young players are important to us, we'll take Ramon Martinez.
ROCKY: Right. And I'll take Sandy Koufax. If you think the Dodgers are going to leave Ramon Martinez unprotected, I've got some swampland in Florida to sell you. Come to think of it, somebody already built Joe Robbie Stadium on that land....
MARLON: Are you finished? I'm not talking about that Ramon Martinez. I'm talking about the Class A shortstop out of the Pittsburgh system.