And what if shortstop Jose Offerman cuts down on his errors? Last year he booted more balls than Uwe von Schamann, leading the major leagues in errors, just ahead of a teammate, second baseman Lenny Harris. Needless to say, the Dodgers' 174 errors were the most in baseball. Which is why they traded for Jody Reed (to play second) and Tim Wallach (to play third); combined, the pair committed only 29 E's last season.
And what if pitchers Hershiser and Martinez recover from a season in which they combined for 18 wins? Behind them will be knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, Kevin Gross (who threw the majors' only no-hitter in '92), and either rookie Pedro Astacio or rookie Pedro Martinez (Ramon's brother), or both. An all right rotation, not to mention an all-righthanded one.
What if all these elements come together? L.A. would improve by 25 games. And finish a dozen out of first place.
The SAN DIEGO PADRE roster is thinner than coach Rob Picciolo, who is thinner than the instrument that his surname sounds like. By unloading the salaries of such talented players as Benito Santiago, Randy Myers, Tony Fernandez, Craig Lefferts and Jerald Clark last winter, San Diego owners saved $11.5 million. New manager Jim Riggleman, however, was left to open the spring with a 40-man roster that included Pat Gomez, Jeremy Hernandez, Rich Rodriguez, Ricky Gutierrez, Luis Lopez and Guillermo Velasquez. Get the idea that beating the Pads this summer will be...e-z?
It will be easy as 1-2-3, even with the presence of 1) third baseman Gary Sheffield, who would have been the league MVP last season had the Padres finished higher than third; 2) Fred McGriff, who in '92 became the first player since 1908 to win a home run title in both leagues; and 3) Tony Gwynn, who continues to turn out singles like a latter-day Berry Gordy.
To the list of history's great Rockies—Rocky Marciano, the first Rocky, Rocky the Flying Squirrel—add manager Don Baylor of the COLORADO ROCKIES. Baylor will not allow his players to wear those unsightly Oakley sunglasses at the plate, and he has banned earrings as well. Baylor wants his players to be diamond studs, not to wear them.
Alas, Baylor has a lot of cubic zirconia in his lineup. And what will it take for the Rockies to finish above seventh place? "Every guy on the team has a career year," says outfielder Dante Bichette. "Or close to it. That's what we need to be competitive."
The Rockies will run. And No. 1 starter David Nied had a phenomenal spring. Following Nied, Butch Henry and Bryn Smith in the rotation, will be.... Saaay, what are your plans for the summer?
"Hey," says third baseman Charlie Hayes, assessing the Rockies' chances. "You never know."
Hey. Sometimes you do.