Delgado says he won't think about his option to leave until after the season. Meanwhile, with Green and veteran first baseman David Segui, with whom Delgado competed for playing time last year, out of the picture, he's settling into a role as the Blue Jays' biggest bopper. "People get used to seeing you around, so you become a leader," says Delgado, who in 1998 was named Toronto's captain, "but if you don't get any hits, you can be around for 20 years and no one will look at you."
Blue Jays fans hope they'll be looking at him for years to come.
Astros at a Crossroads?
Houston Has A Problem
The Astros' sorry performance—through Sunday they had the worst record in the majors (22-40) and trailed the Cardinals by 12 games in the National League Central—has Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker scratching his head, though not mincing his words. "We know we lost players in the off-season," says Hunsicker, referring to lefthanded starter Mike Hampton and outfielder Carl Everett, both of whom were traded last December, a year before they could become free agents, "but we expected to be a contending club. This team has significantly underachieved. We've had breakdowns in every area."
That they have. At week's end Houston, which has finished a season with an earned run average of 4.00 or higher only six times in its 38-year history, had the National League's third-worst mark at 5.34. Closer Billy Wagner, who blew a total of eight saves the last two seasons, had already coughed up seven and had an ERA of 547. Leadoff hitter Craig Biggio, a seven-time All-Star, was hitting just .267. Not once all season had the Astros won more than two in a row.
The question is what to do about the tailspin, which has sparked trade rumors-outfielder Moises Alou's name has popped up most often—and speculation about manager Larry Dierker's job security. Hunsicker insists Houston won't be blown up even if it fails to get on track. That's partly because a trade-deadline auction isn't feasible: Many veteran Astros, such as Alou, Biggio and first baseman Jeff Bagwell, have no-trade clauses. "I don't think a significant overhaul makes sense," says Hunsicker. "Rebuilding is something you do when an organization is in a state of panic and disarray. This isn't about not having talent. It's about the talent we have not playing up to its ability."
Still, Hunsicker concedes that Houston is "in transition," an odd state for a club that has won three straight division titles and just opened a new ballpark. Two fifths of the starting rotation and four positional players began the season with less than two years' experience in the majors. The reliance on youth was created by a need to keep the payroll down to help pay for previous seasons' successes: Drayton McLane, determined to field a competitive team before his new stadium opened and willing to pay what it took to do that, failed to turn a profit in each of his first seven seasons as owner. Enron Field has created new streams of revenue, but for now that income is earmarked to pay past expenses, not current talent.
Hunsicker insists Dierker's job is safe, too, though Dierker understands the whispers. "I'm not looking over my shoulder, but I am realistic," he says. "Everybody is a little embarrassed by this, and everyone is a little responsible, including me."
Sosa Isn't Smiling
Bottom Line Is The Bottom Line
Cubs manager Don Baylor met with disgruntled slugger Sammy Sosa on June 7, and the two apparently agreed to put their public bickering behind them and move on, as Sosa said, "like father, like son." Even in the Chicago clubhouse some doubt the sincerity of the Baylor-Sosa ceasefire. Says outfielder Glenallen Hill, "They said what needed to be said, and now it's like, 'You go this way, and I'll go this way?