- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Nonetheless, contrary to rumors, St. Louis general manager Dal Maxvill has said he has no intention of trading outfielder Tom Brunansky for Boston reliever Lee Smith. Says Herzog, who has an outfield overstocked with first-line players, "What would you rather have—four outfielders or a bullpen? We'd have a better chance of winning if we had Lee Smith than any of the four outfielders."
Of all the trivial yet often fascinating statistics kept these days, one of the most esoteric is pickoff throws made by pitchers. Last year the Astros' Jim Deshaies led the majors with 355 such tosses, 60 more than American League leader Roger Clemens of the Red Sox and 102 more than his closest National League rival, Bruce Hurst of the Padres. "I can believe I led the league, but a hundred more?" said Deshaies. "Well, I've got to lead the league in something."
At Olympic Stadium in Montreal, an image of a chicken appears on the scoreboard every time an opposing pitcher makes a pickoff throw. "I guess it means you're chicken," said Deshaies. "I must have hung up 11 chickens with one hitter last year."
Deshaies got off to a predictable start. In his debut, on April 10, his first two throws from the stretch were to first. He finished the game with 13 pickoff throws in five innings and caught one runner: the Reds' Paul O'Neill.
Pirate outfielder Andy Van Slyke is amazed that someone—in this case it's Stats, Inc.—actually keeps track of pickoff throws. "Who says there's an unemployment problem in this country?" he says. "Just take the five percent unemployed and give them a baseball stat to follow."
Pitching is usually the Astros' long suit, but not this year. Houston's fifth starter, Jim Clancy, was 18-27 with a 4.74 ERA over the last two years, and he didn't throw well this spring. The Astros should release him, but they signed him to replace Nolan Ryan when Ryan jumped to the Rangers as a free agent in 1988. That bullet is a hard one to bite.
The rest of the staff is not much more promising. Ace Mike Scott is almost 35. No. 3 starter Mark Portugal was 7-0 in the second half of '89, but that may have been a fluke; he was 11-19 in his four previous seasons. The No. 4 starter, Bill Gullickson, isn't the hard thrower he was before he went to Japan at the end of '87. One solution would be to recall top prospect Darryl Kile from Tucson. But he will miss the first two weeks of the Triple A season with arm trouble.
HAND IN GLOVE