On the outs is where Philadelphia finds itself now, and if its big guns don't start firing soon, that's where the Phillies will stay.
The Artless Dodgers
The biggest underachievers in the National League have to be the Dodgers, who sent five players to last week's All-Star Game but were one game under .500 at week's end. The biggest reason for L.A.'s poor showing is the most porous defense in the league. But it may also be time to start questioning the job being done by the Dodgers' manager of 19 years, Tommy Lasorda.
He has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career in L.A., but at age 67 he may be past his prime. "The Dodgers have a chemistry problem," one National League All-Star said last week. "And Tommy's the reason."
Los Angeles has gotten terrific starting pitching, strong performances at the plate from Raul Mondesi, Eric Karros and Mike Piazza, and effective relief pitching from closer Todd Worrell, and still it was four games behind Colorado in the National League West through Sunday. Some baseball people say it's because Lasorda is too hard on some of his younger players, making them uptight instead of keeping them loose. Also, he is overworking some of his pitchers. In a recent three-start stretch 21-year-old Ismael Valdes threw 124, 130 and 135 pitches—only six pitchers threw that many in any three-start span last year, and all of them were veterans. Though there are several members of the Dodger organization who believe L.A. would be better off with a new, younger manager, owner Peter O'Malley, ever image conscious, is hesitant to make a move. But if the Dodgers don't win their weak division this year, they better forget image and go for substance.
It was sad to look at the box score of the Yankee-Royal game of July 12 and see New York's first baseman, Don Mattingly—one of the game's best players over the last 10 years—hitting sixth in the lineup. It will be even sadder if the Yanks start platooning him. But facts are facts. Through Sunday, Mattingly had just one homer and 20 RBIs in a season during which first basemen in the American League were averaging 13 homers and 49 RBIs.
Mattingly, 34, hasn't been the same player since his chronic back troubles worsened in 1989, limiting his ability to hit with power. He was further hampered this season by an eye infection that bothered him for five weeks during May and June. Russ Davis, a righthanded-hitting third baseman, was recalled from the minors a month before the All-Star break to breathe life into the Yankees. He might play against some lefties as Mattingly sits and Wade Boggs moves to first.