The rest of the lineup is even less promising. Shortstop Dick Schofield, who has been sidelined all season with a hamstring injury, probably won't play until mid-June. Donnie Hill, who was released in early August by Oakland's Triple A club, is the best second baseman. And centerfielder Devon White is looking less and less like a star every day. Sure, he had 24 homers and 87 RBIs in 1987, but that was the year of the live ball.
The Angels are looking to deal for a middle infielder, but not many are available. They would also like to trade for a pitcher. Should Winfield report, California will have a surplus of outfielders, and White is the most likely one to go because he has the most market value. But if the Angels trade White, Dante Bichette would have to play center, which could be a liability.
Winfield is slated to play right, even though his former teammate, leftfielder Luis Polonia, claims he can't play the outfield every day. Says Polonia of the Winfield trade, "I don't know what they [the Angels] are thinking."
The trade is clearly a last-ditch effort to save an illstarred season. Rader believes that Winfield can bring California the same kind of stability that Yount would have provided. Says Rader, "David has been through so much in New York, and it hasn't bothered him. He's a man."
WHAT'S ON THIRD?
The Blue Jays' Kelly Gruber (10 homers through Sunday) and the Mets' Howard Johnson (seven) are off to explosive starts. Beyond those two, though, there's a serious shortage of power-hitting third basemen.
Consider these players who started at third on May 8: Wally Backman, Mike Blowers, Scott Coolbaugh, Rene Gonzales, Craig Grebeck, Charlie Hayes, Randy Kutcher, Mark Lemke, Tony Phillips, Rick Schu, Dale Sveum and Curtis Wilkerson. How many homers do they each average a year? Fewer than three. That's a far cry from players like Mike Schmidt, who hit 548 career homers, or Graig Nettles (390) or Ron Cey (316).
"The position has changed," says one veteran scout. "Teams used to put a guy over there who could hit homers and knock in runs, even if the team had to give up something defensively. But little guys play there now. The production has gone down."
Schmidt retired last year because, as he said at the time, his level of play had dropped so much. Yet the day he quit, May 29, he was leading National League third basemen in RBIs and had six homers. Last season only three third basemen hit at least 20 homers—Johnson (36), the Pirates' Bobby Bonilla (24) and the Angels' Jack Howell (20)—and now that Bonilla has moved back to the outfield, the list may get shorter.
Backman, Bonilla's replacement at third, has sparked the Pirates, but at week's end he had only eight career homers. The Tigers signed Phillips to play third for big money, even though he was a utility infielder with just 33 lifetime home runs. The Dodgers have often used Mike Sharperson (zero career homers) at third, and through Sunday the Royals' Kevin Seitzer had gone 134 games without a multi-RBI game. Meanwhile, the Cubs have been platooning Wilkerson (four career homers) and journeyman Luis Salazar.