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Taking a Shot With Their 38s
Steve Wulf
April 04, 1994
The Yankees of the early '60s had the M&M boys, namely Mantle and Maris. The Tribe of '94 has the M&M&M Boys, although it's something of a stretch to call three 38-year-olds "boys." They're pitchers Dennis Martinez and Jack Morris and first baseman-designated hitter Eddie Murray, each an aging free agent whom Cleveland general manager John Hart signed in the off-season.
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April 04, 1994

Taking A Shot With Their 38s

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THE LINEUP

CF

Kenny Lofton

136 stolen bases, 212 runs the last two years

RF

Wayne Kirby

Will platoon with switch-hitter Ruben Amaro Jr.

2B

Carlos Baerga

Only 2B with a comparable season? Rogers Hornsby

LF

Albert Belle

129 RBIs most by Indian since Al Rosen (145 in '53)

DH

Eddie Murray

.277 lifetime hitter in NL; .295 in AL

1B

Paul Sorrento

Too many K's (121) for 463 at bats

C

Sandy Alomar Jr.

Hit .321 after coming off DL on Aug. 7

3B

Jim Thome

Led International League in BA (.332) and RBIs (102)

SS

Omar Vizquel

Gold Glover hit .292 before All Star break, .202 after

Ace

Dennis Martinez

208 career wins; never more than 16 in a season

Closer

Steve Farr

3-11, 4.58 ERA in previous ('84) stint with Tribe

INSTANT ANALYST

When the Indians move into their new ballpark on Opening Day, they hope to continue a recent trend. Four of the last five teams that moved into a new stadium enjoyed a significant increase in their home field winning percentage.

Team

Years

Ballpark Move

Percentages

Expos

1976-77

Jarry Park to Olympic Stadium

.338-.469

Twins

1981-82

Metropolitan Stadium to Metrodome

.400-.457

Blue Jays

1988-89

Exhibition Stadium to SkyDome

.568-.618

White Sox

1990-91

Comiskey Park to new Comiskey Park

.613-.568

Orioles

1991-92

Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards

.407-.531

PREDICTED FINISH: SECOND

The Yankees of the early '60s had the M&M boys, namely Mantle and Maris. The Tribe of '94 has the M&M&M Boys, although it's something of a stretch to call three 38-year-olds "boys." They're pitchers Dennis Martinez and Jack Morris and first baseman-designated hitter Eddie Murray, each an aging free agent whom Cleveland general manager John Hart signed in the off-season.

The signings caused a number of baseball people to say "Mmm." That's because the three vets, while proven winners, are also reputed whiners. "My clubhouse could've absorbed one of those guys," says an American League general manager, "but three? John must know something I don't, but that's very possible since he was in the Baltimore organization when Martinez and Murray were there."

Hart obviously knew something in recent years when he traded for centerfielder Kenny Lofton, second baseman Carlos Baerga, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., first baseman Paul Sorrento and. last December, shortstop Omar Vizquel. For his part Hart says, "Martinez, Morris and Murray are quality people. We want them to set an example for our young players because they have been there before."

Murray, by most accounts, set a terrible example for the Mets in his two years in New York. Few players get more bad press than Murray; few players think less of the press than Murray. But even his detractors had to give him credit for driving in 100 runs on a team that had been given up for lost by last May. And deal with it, baseball writers of America: You cannot in good conscience not vote for him when he shows up on the Hall of Fame ballot. Only Hank Aaron, with 19, has had more consecutive 75-RBI seasons than Murray (17).

In a perfectly civil conversation this spring Murray said, "The media painted me to be a bad guy in New York, and that's what everyone thought I was. I was talking to some people one day last year when this guy says, 'You know, you look just like Eddie Murray.' I said, 'Well, actually, I am Eddie Murray.' And he said, 'No, you're not. You're too nice to be Eddie Murray.' "

Cleveland fans need not worry that Murray will somehow cast a negative spell over young Indian stars like leftfielder Albert Belle, Lofton and Baerga. No, the faithful who will be filing into new Jacobs Field this year will have enough to worry about with the pitching. Much depends on which Charles Nagy takes the mound—the onetime ace who went 17-10 with a 2.96 ERA in '92 or the one who had a 6.29 ERA when an injured shoulder shut him down last May for all but the final game of the season. (It looked like the latter Nagy this spring.)

The Indians are the one team in baseball that everybody should root for, given their long history of futility and their recent history of tragedy. Hart and manager Mike Hargrove want desperately to put a winning ball club in the new ballpark—witness the 3M's. If Clevelanders are looking for signs—however obscure—to suggest that these Indians will indeed find passage out of the wilderness, they'll be comforted to note that (infielder Mark) Lewis and (starter Mark) Clark are on the roster.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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