SI Vault
 
It's Up for Grabs
Tim Kurkjian
April 16, 1990
IN THIS DIVISION IN DECLINE, THE BLUE JAYS HAVE THE BEST ARMS, BUT EVERYBODY HAS A CHANCE
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 16, 1990

It's Up For Grabs

IN THIS DIVISION IN DECLINE, THE BLUE JAYS HAVE THE BEST ARMS, BUT EVERYBODY HAS A CHANCE

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

5. BOSTON RED SOX

Hey, what's so bad about having two closers in the same bullpen? Even if both are used to being the guy? Jeff Reardon had the most saves in the majors in the '80s; Lee Smith was third. "People ask me if it will work," says Reardon. smiling. "Hell, I don't know."

That, however, is not the most pressing issue for the Red Sox. For example, who is their regular first baseman, with Nick Esasky (30 homers) gone to Atlanta? Bill Buckner is 40; Carlos Quintana, 24, is horrendous defensively: and Billy Jo Robidoux, 26, is a career .212 hitter. Whoever plays first had better supply power: The most potent starting lineup the Red Sox can put together accounted for just 63 homers last season.

Pitching? Sure, Roger Clemens is great and Mike Boddicker is solid, but where from there? John Dopson is a questionable number 3. And number 4 is 27-year-old rookie Mike Rochford. But remember which division we're in here: If the Red Sox can deal Smith for a top-notch starter, they can win. If not, well...more than one writer has predicted that Boston's Joe Morgan will be the first manager fired this season. To which Morgan merely smiles and says, "Yeah, who's second on that list?"

6. CLEVELAND INDIANS

On Aug 4 1989, the Indians pulled within 1½ games of first place. Club president Hank Peters remembers thinking, "Now we'll find out what kind of manager and players we have." On Sept. 12, manager Doc Edwards was fired. The players wound up 16 games out—the 29th straight year Cleveland has failed to finish within 10 games of first in a full season.

After the season, Peters determined that few of his players had ever been on a winning team. So he went looking for winners and acquired first baseman Keith Hernandez of the '86 champion Mets and hired John McNamara, who managed Boston in '86 against those Mets. "We didn't have people who knew how to cope with pressure," says Peters. "Now we do."

The Indians are placing great faith in Hernandez, 36, who taught the Mets how to win in the '80s. Trouble is, Hernandez isn't the same player he was five years ago. He has played a total of 170 games in the last two years, batting .259. "Keith is a great leader," says a former teammate, "but only when things are going well for him."

The Indians finished last in the league in runs scored in 1989, then dealt Joe Carter, their best player. But before burying this team, consider the pitching. Cleveland has four solid starters in Greg Swindell, John Farrell, Tom Candiotti and Bud Black. And watch for rookie lefthander Kevin Bearse. With Doug Jones as the closer, Cleveland has the best pitching in the division after Toronto. "That's the reason I chose this club," says Hernandez.

7. DETROIT TIGERS

Continue Story
1 2 3 4