With rightfielder Hubie Brooks (90 RBIs) and first baseman Andres Galarraga (92 RBIs) anchoring the middle of the lineup, the Expos should have no problem scoring runs. Their big worry will be keeping other teams from scoring.
5 CHICAGO CUBS
There was an interesting sight in Mesa, Ariz., one morning this spring. In leftfield at HoHo-Kam Park stood a round, gerbil-cheeked older man talking to a thin, graceful-looking young man. They were manager Don Zimmer and rookie centerfielder Jerome Walton, two Cubs whose fortunes are entwined. Zimmer will determine if Walton is ready for the majors, and Walton will determine how good—or bad—the Cubs are this year. "I just told him not to worry or press," said Zimmer. "I told him that even if he's not in the lineup on Opening Day, he'll be in the major leagues soon enough. This guy is going to be a good player."
If Walton, who hit .331 and stole 42 bases for Double A Pittsfield last year, can crack the lineup, the Cubs will have the leadoff hitter they desperately need and a centerfielder coach Jimmy Piersall says is already the best in the league. "What I really want to find out," said Zimmer, "is if he's ready mentally for the majors. I don't believe in that 'don't rush him' stuff. When I was managing the Padres, I broke in two guys without minor league experience—Dave Winfield and Dave Roberts." One of those guys, at least, worked out pretty well.
Even with Walton, the Cubs' lineup will be uncharacteristically short on power. Rightfielder Andre Dawson is the only real home run threat; first baseman Mark Grace, second baseman Ryne Sandberg, shortstop Shawon Dunston and third baseman Vance Law are basically line drive hitters. So the ivy will get a break this year. As for the pitching, the rotation looks to be Rick Sutcliffe, Greg Maddux, Paul Kilgus, rookie Mike Harkey and Mike Bielecki. Sutcliffe has lost a lot of weight and looks better, but he is perpetual trade bait. Maddux was 15-3 at the All-Star break, but 3-5 thereafter. Kilgus was 12-15 with the Rangers last year, but especially intriguing for the Cubs, who will be playing only 16 times at night, he was 5-2 in day games. The Cubs also acquired lefthander Mitch Williams from Texas to be their bullpen stopper. Williams has a reputed fastball and a reputation for being a screwball. Says fellow Cub pitcher Al Nipper, "If you put his [Williams's] brain in a blue jay, it would fly backward."
The Cubs, who haven't won a world championship since 1908, have had only one winning season since 1972. You can be certain this will not be their second.
6 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Pity the Phillies' new manager, Nick Leyva. His rotation had a grand total of 19 major league wins in '88. His double play combination, second baseman Tommy Herr and shortstop Dickie Thon, has no range. Third baseman Mike Schmidt can't throw very well after shoulder surgery, and there are even doubts that he can hit. And the new centerfielder, former second baseman Juan Samuel, is a little shaky out there. At one point this spring, Samuel asked Peter Pascarelli of The Philadelphia Inquirer how he looked.
"You look like Willie Mays," replied Pascarelli.
"Really?" said Samuel, falling into the trap.