At least one observer thinks that the acquisition of Darryl Strawberry and Brett Butler does not bode well for the Dodgers. "That will put pressure on them," he says. "Remember, when you get too much talent, the egos start flying." That, anyway, is the humble opinion of Cincinnati reliever Rob Dibble.
Whether the ego has landed for the born-again Strawberry may be immaterial. "Darryl is a given," says pitcher Orel Hershiser. "You know he's going to hit 30 homers and drive in 90 runs. But signing Butler gives us speed at the top of the order, a legitimate leadoff hitter and a centerfielder. Those were three huge holes."
The Dodgers have three more huge holes, however, and they're all in a row round the horn. These three positions may determine L.A.'s position in the standings:
Third base. Said one Dodger, "We're pulling guys off the streets to play there."
Shortstop. Alfredo Griffin broke no records last season, but did pretty much the same thing semantically: He damaged a disk, leaving L.A. with a 34-year-old, .210-hitter with a bad back to anchor the infield. The heir apparent, 22-year-old super-prospect Jose Offerman, frequently looked more like Oh-fer-man when he batted .155 in 29 games last year.
Second base. Juan Samuel had the lowest fielding percentage of any starting second baseman in the majors last season while batting .242. He remains a Dodger only because G.M. Fred Claire offered Samuel salary arbitration, guessing that he would sign elsewhere as a free agent and that L.A. would get a draft pick as compensation. Claire guessed wrong.
At most other positions, however, the Dodgers are as deep as Camus. "They have a lot more depth than any team in our division," says San Diego manager Greg Riddoch. Not that they need it offensively. Strawberry, first baseman Eddie Murray and leftfielder Kal Daniels totaled 90 home runs and 297 RBIs in '90. So what if Murray is the only dangerous righthanded hitter? These guys are Left Coasters. It is time to see if they can be West coasters as well.
3. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
He brought riches to Rags, put Bud in the black and gave Gs to McGee. Al Rosen dropped more than a dime on reliever Dave Righetti, lefthander Bud Black and centerfielder Willie McGee last winter and was accused of profligacy by his fellow G.M.'s.
The bottom lines: 1) Owner Bob Lurie shelled out $33 million for the trio and 2) the Giants better not finish third. "This is the best club I've ever had going into a season," says manager Roger Craig, whose team won the pennant two years ago. "If I don't mess things up, we should have a great season. Al Rosen and Bob Lurie said to me, 'We got you the players, now it's up to you.' In a way, they were kidding. But I love that kind of pressure."