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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
April 17, 1989
THE ROSE QUESTION
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April 17, 1989

Baseball

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ERA ISN'T EVERYTHING

If pitching is 90% of the game, pitchers with comparable earned run averages should have comparable won-lost records, right? Not so, as the records of these pitchers last season illustrate. To win games, you gotta have runs.

 

David Cone
Mets

Joe Magrane
Cardinals

John Candelaria
Yankees

Chirs Bosio
Brewers

Bruce Hurst
Red Sox

Jose Guzman
Rangers

Doyle Alexander
Tiger

Jose Bautista
Orioles

ERA

2.22

2.18

3.38

3.36

3.66

3.70

4.32

4.30

WON-LOST

20-3

5-9

13-7

7-15

18-6

11-13

14-11

6-15

RUN SUPPORT
(Per Nine innings)

5.0

2.6

5.2

2.8

6.3

3.9

5.2

2.8

SOURCE: STATS, INC.

THE ROSE QUESTION

Lost in the avalanche of publicity over Pete Rose and his alleged gambling activities (page 13) is the fact that 1989 is supposed to be his make-or-break season as the Cincinnati Reds manager. If he fails to win in '89 with what many consider the most talented roster in the National League, Reds owner Marge Schott will have a hard time ignoring the pleas from her baseball people to get rid of Rose. Now there's a chance that commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti will do the dirty work for her.

No one questions Rose's ability to handle game situations—he is a brilliant strategist. The same cannot be said of his ability to handle players, which is a manager's primary concern. Rose has frequently come under fire for overusing pitchers, especially middle relievers. Righthander Ron Robinson has had three arm operations; lefthander Rob Murphy, who was traded to Boston in the off-season, warmed up nearly 400 times last year; and righty Frank Williams had bitter things to say about Rose after he was released by the Reds in December and picked up as a free agent by Detroit. Without Murphy and Williams, Rose will probably start warming up stopper John Franco earlier and earlier this season.

The worst rap against Rose, however, is that he is aloof. Unlike the Dodgers' Tom Lasorda or the Pirates' Jim Leyland, who talk to their players frequently, Rose is often as distant from them as he was from his teammates during his playing days, when the only thing that seemed to matter to him was his next at bat. First baseman Nick Esasky, who went to Boston with Murphy, criticized Rose for his "inability to communicate." Says former Cincy outfielder Dave Parker, "Pete is a———manager who never talks to anyone."

Rose's response is predictable. "All that communication———is excuses," he says. "Why should I have to go talk to players? No manager had to talk to me." What Rose fails to understand is that few players, if any, approach the game with the level of intensity that he had as a player.

Should Rose be suspended by Giamatti, several potential successors have been mentioned in the press. The best bet is Cincinnati third base coach Dave Bristol, who previously has managed and been let go by the Reds, Braves, Giants and Brewers. But many Cincy players feel that the appointment of Bristol would do nothing to alleviate the tensions on the team and that one of the other coaches, Tony Perez or Tommy Helms, would be a better choice. There has also been speculation that Schott, in a p.r. move, may try to lure former Cincinnati stars Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan back into the fold. Morgan might not be a bad pick. He, too, was once an undervalued player and should be able to empathize with the Reds' talented Eric Davis, Kal Daniels and Barry Larkin, who all feel they haven't received the respect they deserve.

THE INSIDE PITCH

The Dodgers are concerned about lefthander Fernando Valenzuela's comeback from shoulder surgery. He is throwing in the high 70's, and while he wasn't hit hard in his '89 debut, he gave up five runs in a 6-1 loss to the Braves. The Dodgers would like to see Valenzuela expand his repertoire of pitches the way then-Angel pitcher Frank Tanana did after he got injured. "The problem is that Fernando stubbornly refuses to make the adjustments," says a Dodger official. Meanwhile, the L.A. brain trust is delighted with the progress of its other wounded lefty, John Tudor, who had elbow, knee and shoulder surgery after the World Series. He may even be ready by the first week in June....

The Tigers are worried about righthander Jeff Robinson, who had to stop pitching last August because of a circulation problem. In his first outing this year, against the Rangers on April 6, he threw four wild pitches in five innings....

Montreal righthander Pascual Perez missed all of spring training because of his third stay at a drug rehab center. But he got out in time to start the Expos' third game of the season and pitched seven strong innings in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. Manager Buck Rodgers was reminded that in 1987 Expo outfielder Tim Raines sat out the first month, then returned May 2 and hit a grand slam homer. "Yeah," replied Rodgers, "but Tim worked out at a high school. Pascual worked out in an institution. Maybe we should have training in an institution."

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