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Free-agent signee Paul Molitor is a suitable replacement at DH, but the left side of the infield is shaky. Shortstop Dick Schofield has been slow to recover from off-season surgery on his right shoulder, and Ed Sprague's defensive work at third base this spring shows why he was converted to catcher three years ago. The new leftfielder, Derek Bell, is unproven.
The personnel changes notwithstanding, Toronto still has a potent top half of the batting order in Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud. The first three are capable of totaling 120 to 150 steals in a season. In the last seven years Carter has piled up 214 home runs, 772 RBIs and 154 steals—the best numbers ever by one player in all three categories over that length of time. Olerud is on the brink of a 100-RBI season.
But if Gillick's club starts to stumble at some point, he'll be prepared to go after the players he needs. Until then the Jays have to regain the spark they had last year. "Attitude is a very big part of the game; sometimes it's overlooked," says Morris. "I can't compare this year's attitude to last year's yet. I've been on closer teams. We're good, but we have questions."
Too many to repeat.
The NEW YORK YANKEES are a good team this year. Unfortunately owner George Steinbrenner, back after a 2½-year ban from baseball, knows it and expects his club to win the division. But the Yankees can't be worrying about how the Boss will react—or, more likely, overreact—if they're seven games out in June.
They have to focus on doing the things that will prevent them from falling seven games behind—like solid catching. New York was unable to deal Matt Nokes, who this spring said, "If they want to trade me for Mark Langston, that's O.K." Yeah, right. Maybe Nokes and pitcher Jim Abbott could get the Yankees Langston. Look for Mike Stanley, who is superior to Nokes defensively, to do most of the catching.
Then there are the lingering clouds that cannot be cleared up until the season starts. Will new third baseman Wade Boggs bounce back from hitting .259 last year—.079 points under his lifetime average? Does the poor spring performance of 36-year-old closer Steve Farr indicate trouble ahead? What kind of production will come from the outfield, which includes Paul O'Neill, a career .215 hitter against lefthanders, and injury-prone Danny Tartabull, who has averaged only 119 games the last four years?
On the other hand, the pitching is terrific. The Yankees, who haven't had a pitcher produce a 15-win season and a sub-3.00 ERA in the same year since Rudy May did it in 1980, have three pitchers who are capable of it this year—newcomers Abbott and Jimmy Key, and holdover Melido Perez. Also, by picking up Abbott, Boggs, Key, O'Neill and shortstop Spike Owen, the Yankees have added quality players who know how to win.
The infusion of good guys already has changed Tartabull's attitude. Sometimes sullen and moody, Tartabull has been enthusiastic and dedicated this spring. That's the way manager Buck Showalter likes it. "When Buck looks at a player, he doesn't ask if he can hit, if he can throw; he asks what kind of guy he is," says Stanley. "He's looking for winning personalities."
Maybe Steinbrenner can come up with one too.