SI Vault
 
Baseball
Stephen Cannella
September 13, 1999
West Toast California's also-rans, the Angels and Dodgers, look to the future
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 13, 1999

Baseball

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

TEAM

SECOND BASEMAN (HRS)

SHORTSTOP (HRS)

COMBINED HRS

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-Slar 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 shortstops

3T. Diamondbacks

Jay Bell (32)

Andy Fox (5)

37

Only three second basemen--Rogers Hornsby (42 and 39 twice), Davey Johnson (43) and Ryne
Sanberg (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

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

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 15½ 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 together."

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, LA 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, Mal-one 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 left-handed pop to a mostly right-handed 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 Peña, who spelled Hundley earlier this season, also struggled, hitting .208 in 43 games before being sent down to Triple A Albuquerque.

Continue Story
1 2 3