The TORONTO BLUE JAYS come from such a nice town and have such a cheery name that it seemed unseemly this spring when 1) MVP George Bell objected to a shift to DH by refusing to bat in a game, 2) Lloyd Moseby kicked and screamed about being moved from center to left, and 3) Tom Henke's agent, Craig Fenech, accused manager Jimy Williams of leaving Henke in games too long just so the club could win later in salary arbitration. Of course, you might be irritated, too, if you had blown a 3�-game lead and division title in the final week of the season.
The Blue Jays did nothing to improve themselves in the off-season, believing that they had enough homegrown talent to correct any flaws. Bell had bad knees and Moseby was erratic in center, so the Jays decided to break in two talented young outfielders, Sil Campusano and Rob Ducey. Then Toronto sent Willie Upshaw to Cleveland so that Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff could be platooned at first.
The pitching staff has led the division in ERA in three of the last four years. Jimmy Key is superb, and the bullpen of Henke, Mark Eichhorn and David Wells is still one of the best in the majors. But starters Mike Flanagan, Jim Clancy and Dave Stieb are probably not what they once were.
Can the Jays patch up their differences? If not, they won't have to worry about losing the title in the final week. They will have lost it long before then.
The DETROIT TIGERS know how to win, or at least they did before the head-on' collusion that sent Kirk Gibson to the Dodgers. "To be honest," says shortstop Alan Trammell, "I don't know what we'll do." Detroit picked up centerfielder Gary Pettis from the Angels, but he's not the answer. Gibson hit 24 homers in 487 at bats last season, but Pettis and the four outfielders who will replace Gibson in left—Pat Sheridan, Larry Herndon, Billy Bean and Scott Lusader—together hit just 17 in 1,153 at bats.
Detroit can trot out four pretty good starters in Jack Morris, Doyle Alexander, Frank Tanana and Walt Terrell, but the bullpen was so mediocre in 1987 that the Tigers had more complete games (33) than saves (31). They're still counting on Willie Hernandez, who has been a shadow of his '84 MVP self Hernandez was so peeved by recent fan and media treatment he poured cold water on a sportswriter this spring. Hernandez's outpouring of disaffection was nothing, though, compared with the cold water Gibson threw on the Tigers' pennant hopes.
There probably isn't a more productive farm system in baseball than that of the MILWAUKEE BREWERS Seven every-day starters, five starting pitchers and the bullpen ace all came from within the organization. This year's hot prospect is 6'3", 260-pound designated hitter Joey Meyer, who had 92 RBIs in only 79 games for Triple A Denver last season. He even developed a cult following this spring. After he delivered four RBIs in one game, the fans were shouting, "MVP, MVP."
Two former Brewer farmhands, Paul Molitor and Jim Gantner, have switched positions because Milwaukee didn't want to risk Molitor's fragile right elbow at third anymore. Gantner, who played second last year, went willingly. (Bell and Moseby take note.) "To be honest," says Gantner, "I like second base better, but we have to have Paulie in the lineup." Indeed, the Brewers were 75-41 last year when Molitor started and 15-31 when he didn't.
Milwaukee's 20-3 start last year was a fluke, but its third-place finish was not. Watch out for the Brewers. They're only a year away.
If you wanted to spend your spring playing baseball with a bunch of former major leaguers, you could have paid $2,000 and attended a baseball fantasy camp. Or you could have wangled yourself an invitation (they were easy to come by) to the cattle call the CLEVELAND INDIANS put on in Tucson. Forty-six pitchers showed up, including former big leaguers Bill Caudill, Bill Laskey and Dan Schatzeder, to try out for a staff whose ERA of 5.28 was the worst in the league in 31 years. Manager Doc Edwards would like to use a rotation of Tom Candiotti, Greg Swindell, John Farrell, Scott Bailes and Rich (Not Ready) Yett. But Swindell had an elbow injury last year, Farrell was 6-12 with a 5.83 ERA in Triple A, and the lefthanded Bailes may be needed in the bullpen. The short reliever will either be junkballing Doug Jones or Greg Harris, the former Texas stopper who injured his arm last year flicking sunflower seeds. Don't ask.