- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
They were March lions, poised to dominate the AL East. But in mid-May the Cleveland Indians were back home in last place, largely because of a pitching staff that was not only the worst in the league (5.32 ERA) but also the least promising, having more members over 40 than under 25.
So now rival executives are snickering at Cleveland general manager Joe Klein's off-season refusal to trade one of his hitters for pitching. "They acted as if they didn't need any," says one G.M. Another faulted Klein for his lack of interest in a deal that would have sent third baseman Brook Jacoby to Detroit for pitcher Dan Petry, saying "Joe doesn't realize that pitching is so scarce today that a team usually has to give up two or three everyday players for one pitcher, not vice versa, as in the past."
"You didn't hear me predicting any pennant," Klein says in his own defense. "We're not as bad as we've played. The starting pitching is getting better, and if Ernie Camacho gets straightened out and Scott Bailes [moved to the bullpen] gets our relief situation corrected, we're capable of winning 22 out of 30 and getting into the pack. But last winter I understood that we still had a ways to go. My plan then was no different than it is now. At the end of this season, when we have one more shift of kids coming up from the minors, we'll decide which one or two everyday players we trade for pitching. With those deals and a couple of the arms we have in our system, we'll be ready to make our move."
Two more sluggers in Buffalo should be ready to join Joe Carter and Cory Snyder in the Indians lineup by September. They are third baseman Eddie Williams (who has 10 homers already) and infielder Jay Bell.
Klein notes that the Yankees ( Rick Rhoden, Charles Hudson) and Mariners (Scott Bankhead) were the only clubs to make trades for frontline starters over the winter. "I fully appreciate how difficult it is to deal for quality pitching," he says. "Everyone talks about the lively ball and points to the homers, but look at the quality of pitching around. It's as bad as it's ever been."
HERE'S THE PITCH
You want pitching? The punchless White Sox will deal pitching. They are seriously discussing a Richard Dotson-for- Tom Brunansky trade with Minnesota and will eventually be looking to move Floyd Bannister's contract to an interested party like Toronto. The Blue Jays have spent six months trying to overspend for a top starter. The Angels are also in the market, offering the likes of Gary Pettis....
Dave Stieb's fastball has been clocked at more than 90 mph in two consecutive starts for the first time since August 1985. While his numbers don't yet reflect it, Stieb says he is close to his 1983-85 form because he is trying to stretch out the muscles in his arm with fast-balls. Says one scout, "He threw so many breaking balls his muscles shortened and he lost his fastball. That happens to a lot of pitchers."