Last August, Sparky Anderson looked at his lineup before a home game against Oakland and said to himself, "Why are we even playing this game? Why not just give 'em the win and get 'em out of here. We have no chance."
How bad was it? Detroit lost 103 games, used 46 players, was last in the league in ERA and batting and gave up the most unearned runs (97) in the majors. Credit the Tigers with trying to improve themselves in the off-season, but how much help did they really get? They added first baseman-DH Cecil Fielder, who hit 38 home runs last year—for the Hanshin Tigers. The new centerfielder is Lloyd Moseby, who batted a career-low .221 last season and was gladly let go by Toronto. From Baltimore, Detroit got unwanted DH Larry Sheets, who has struggled for two years. The Tigers doubled what the A's were willing to pay Tony Phillips, their new third baseman and leadoff hitter.
"Look," says Anderson, "before we even start, we're better than we were, that's a cinch. To say we have a chance to win it, that's tough. But we could do what Baltimore did last year." For Detroit to have any chance at that, it desperately needs comeback years from pitcher Jack Morris, who hurt his elbow last year and fell to 6-14, and shortstop Alan Trammell, who suffered a variety of injuries, dropping his average 68 points. A return to '88 form by pitcher Jeff Robinson would also aid Anderson's cause.
"We'll be presentable," says Anderson. "I don't think we're as ugly as they're painting us to be." Alas, the cellar is always ugly.
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