Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson has made it clear he would like the first word of his title removed. General manager Roland Hemond, however, has not said how he would feel about gaining a promotion to vice chairman in charge of baseball operations.
The general feeling at the Warehouse is that Hemond would resist such a move, perhaps viewing it as a boot upstairs. If that's the case, perhaps Hemond should visit an optometrist. He might be afflicted with shortsightedness.
The promotion, in fact, would not be a demotion cloaked in semantics. Why not? Because Hemond would have a title equal to that of Joe Foss, the club's vice chairman of business and finance.
As the chain of command stands now, Hemond is a subordinate of Foss'. True, Foss' title seems to exclude him from baseball operations, but as Foss' leadership role on the managerial search committee showed, he now has become involved in the baseball end of the operation.
Nothing, not even coffee, is as addictive as making baseball decisions. Through the history of the game, few front-office officials have had the strength to resist at least trying to get involved in player personnel matters.
Foss' intentions might be innocent enough, but with his title giving him the power to oversee Hemond, it would take a lot of self-discipline for Foss to restrict his involvement to the business side of the business.
By making Hemond a vice chairman, the roles would be defined clearly. Hemond keeps owner Peter Angelos abreast of Robinson's baseball decisions, and Angelos passes on his consent or dissent. Foss keeps Angelos abreast of matters on the business side of things. Robinson goes to the GM meetings and is the point man on player acquisitions. Foss tightens the budget in an effort to keep ticket prices from increasing.
Angelos practices law, oversees the Orioles in case he has to nix a Gregg Olson-type signing, tries to usher an NFL team to Baltimore, and calls on his labor background to offer his advice on settling the baseball strike.
Teamwork, the word Angelos and new manager Phil Regan consider vital, is best executed when players have clearly defined roles. Darryl Strawberry started a drug-and-alcohol prevention program in the Bay area called the Strawberry Patch Youth Project. "He's got his life in great shape," Giants GM Bob Quinn said. The Giants offered Strawberry salary arbitration for 1995 to prevent him from filing for free agency.
Although Strawberry hit just .239 with four home runs and 17 RBIs, the Giants went 20-10 after signing him, and Barry Bonds and Matt Williams benefited from his arrival. With Strawberry batting fifth, Bonds hit .388 with 14 home runs and 28 RBIs and Williams hit .342-12-30.
Strawberry's return, coupled with the Giants' plans to give rookie J. R. Phillips a shot at first base, effectively ends the speculation that Kevin Mitchell will be pursued.
Strawberry said that he is eager to prove in 1995 that he is "clean and healthy and sober" and that he then wants to negotiate a long-term deal with the Giants.
Braves, Pendleton part
The Atlanta Braves let third baseman Terry Pendleton (questionable back) know they would not be bringing him back next season, setting up a competition between Jose Oliva and Chipper Jones.
Jones, 22, recovered rapidly from April surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and is considered the favorite to win the position.
A shortstop for most of his career, Jones hit .353 in his last minor-league season and was going to be the Braves' left fielder before blowing out his left knee.
Oliva, 23, filled in for Pendleton for 19 games, hitting six home runs and driving in 11 runs. Whoever wins the job will become the Braves' first regular rookie third baseman since Bob Horner.
The mark Pendleton left on the Braves was enormous. He was their first MVP since Dale Murphy (1983), their first third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Clete Boyer (1969) and their first hitter since Ralph Garr (1974) to lead the league in hits.
Phillies cutting costs
The Philadelphia Phillies exercised the $1.2 million option for 1995 on outfielder Jim Eisenreich's contract, but they made the first of what should be a long list of payroll cuts by telling reliever Doug Jones ($3.25 million), outfielder Pete Incaviglia ($1.2 million) and left-hander Norm Charlton ($850,000) that their options would not be picked up. A day earlier, left-hander Danny Jackson ($2.3 million in 1994), first baseman Ricky Jordan ($1.1 million) and outfielder Billy Hatcher ($650,000) became free agents. Mix in Milt Thompson ($1.2 million), dealt to the Houston Astros the day before the trading deadline, and it adds up to $10.55 million in savings.
Second baseman Mariano Duncan ($2.2 million), first baseman John Kruk ($2.45 million) and reliever Larry Andersen ($550,000) have filed or will file for free agency. Some of those savings will be lost by raises for center fielder Len Dykstra and catcher Darren Daulton, who had combined salaries of $4.6 million last season and will make a combined $10.7 million in 1995.
Kruk, weakened by knee surgery and by radiation treatments for testicular cancer, might play in Mexico this winter to prove himself fit and improve his stock on the free-agent market.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are prepared to move Dave Hollins from third to first to take Kruk's place and might pursue Pendleton to play third. The Phillies also might try to trade for Houston third baseman Ken Caminiti, although his $4.35 million salary is a stretch.
Why does Boston GM Dan Duquette think enough of Kevin Kennedy, fired by the Texas Rangers, to hire him to manage the Red Sox? Kennedy made Duquette look good when he was a coach of the Montreal Expos and Duquette was the GM. Kennedy advised Duquette to trade with the Cincinnati Reds for John Wetteland, who had been Kennedy's closer at the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, and suggested the Expos trade for Darrin Fletcher from Philadelphia. Kennedy was familiar with Fletcher, the Expos' best catcher since Gary Carter, from their days in the Dodgers' system. The hard-throwing Wetteland has developed into one of baseball's best closers. The California Angels, an organization starved for big names yet tight with money, decided losing Chili Davis to save a bundle of cash wasn't worth the risk. They offered Davis salary arbitration, rather than let him opt for free agency. Negotiations continue with Davis on a three-year contract in the neighborhood of $11 million. Davis won the club's triple crown (.311-26-84). . . . Ex-Texas manager Bobby Valentine is working out a multi-year contract to manage the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Pacific League and plans to take Tom Robson, his hitting coach in Texas, with him. Thirteen Americans have managed or coached in the Japanese League, including Oakland Athletics hitting coach Jim Lefebvre. . . . The Chicago Sun-Times published the results of a call-in telephone poll Wednesday, asking readers to voice their opinion on the club's managerial search, which had two finalists, Cubs third base coach Tony Muser and San Diego Padres manager Jim Riggleman. The winner? The neither phone number, which 57 percent of callers chose. Muser got 30 percent of the vote, Riggleman 13 percent. . . . The Chicago White Sox bought out Paul Assenmacher's contract rather than guarantee him $2.7 million for next season. Look for the Orioles to show interest in the left-handed reliever.
The managerial changes so far this off-season:
Departed ............ Hired
Johnny Oates ........ Phil Regan
Butch Hobson ........ Kevin Kennedy
Tom Trebelhorn ..... Jim Riggleman
Hal McRae ........... Bob Boone
Jim Riggleman ....... Bruce Bochy
Kevin Kennedy ....... Johnny Oates