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"We had three players last year—Sandberg, Dawson and [first baseman Mark] Grace—so we went out to build a ball club" says Lefebvre. "We got experienced players to go with the talent we've already got." What they got is not a lot.
"A lot of us were embarrassed last year," says first baseman John Kruk of the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES. "We embarrassed ourselves, the organization and everybody else." And it takes a team as pungent as the '92 Phils to embarrass not only the players and organization, but...everybody else as well.
At first blush the temptation is not to ask how the Phillies finished sixth last season, but to ask how they failed to win the division: Kruk hit .323; catcher Darren Daulton led the league with 109 RBIs; third baseman Dave Hollins hit .270 with 27 homers and 93 RBIs; and starting pitchers Terry Mulholland and Curt Schilling won 13 and 14 games, respectively.
Manager Jim Fregosi's lineup, however, was never etched in stone. "The only three regular players we had were Kruk, Hollins and Daulton," says Mulholland. "Other than that it was a crapshoot."
Injury magnet Lenny Dykstra has said that he will win the National League batting title this season. (He will have to play the full season to do so; Dykstra has played in only 148 games the last two years combined, and none of them in September.) Mulholland, likewise, has high hopes. "I'd like to win two ball games," he says. "Two World Series games."
The reason that won't happen is that the Phils have largely the same roster as they had last season, and last season they won only 70 games even with what may have been career years from several players. Philadelphia's off-season acquisitions—pitcher Danny Jackson, rightfielder Pete Incaviglia—were not only insufficient; they were also infinitesimal. Inky? Dinky.
The FLORIDA MARLINS will be terrible, but also terribly entertaining when you consider that manager Rene Lachemann wears a nicotine patch on his rear end, giving new meaning to the term "cigarette butt"; and that there is a Japanese rock group named for first baseman Orestes Destrade, who played last season for the Seibu Lions; and that centerfielder Chuck Carr referred to his third base coach as Cocoa this spring, even though the Marlins trained in Cocoa and the coach is named Cookie; and that catcher Benito Santiago wears uniform number 09, much like Cincinnati's mascot is Schottzie 02; and that the Marlin mascot, meanwhile, is a furry fillet that walks upright; and that last month on the Marlins' first road trip they shared a hotel with a convention of bagpipers; and that No. 1 starter Charlie Hough took his physical and was told that he was in great shape for a man in his 50's, though Hough is 45; and that TV announcer Joe Angel described one of Hough's more animated knuckle-balls this spring by saying, "The pitch from Hough is high and low."