Introducing the second annual Dane Iorg Cast-In-Stone major league baseball picks, all rights reserved.
You'll perhaps recall that the first annual Cast-In-Stone picks were printed a year ago in this newspaper. They went sufficiently well to convince Iorg that he has a future in this game. Or at least enough of a future to risk a sophomore slump.So the Deseret News has signed up Iorg for another season, and Iorg has accepted; and, bouyed by his rather phenomenal rookie success of a year ago - he picked two of four divisional races correctly, as well as giving a personal guarantee that the Atlanta Braves would lose 100 games, which they did - he has more reason than ever to work without an eraser.
The 10-year big league veteran, who retired to the good life in Orem three years ago after winning a World Series ring in each league, still has an intricate network of sources in the majors. You don't play for the Athletics and the Cardinals and the Phillies and the Padres and not have an intricate network of sources in the majors. You don't play for the Athletics and Cardinals and the Phillies and the Padres and not have an intricate network.
"I've got this down pat this year," says Iorg. He says go ahead and Cast the following in Stone:
The National League West:
1. Los Angeles. "As bad as I hate to do this, I've got to put L.A. first. Everybody in baseball is a little jealous of the Dodgers. I admit it. But they do a great job. And they've got strong starting pitching and Eddie Murray has really made them a top, top baseball team. Everybody's made fun of (Tommy) Lasorda for years, but I think he's proved himself as a very capable manager."
2. San Diego. "I think it will take them a year to come together. I played with a lot of these guys. They've got their problems, like in the outfield, where they've got two first basemen playing left and right field."
3. San Francisco. "I don't trust their starting pitching."
4. Cincinnati. "Whether Pete Rose is managing doesn't matter. I think they'd be better off without him."
5. Houston. "The NL West has improved, and I don't think Houston has kept up."
6. Atlanta. "Another hundred loss year."
The National League East:
1. New York Mets. "Obviously, the best team in baseball. Again."
2. St. Louis. "Whitey Herzog is still the best manager in baseball. The Cards have a great bullpen. If Whitey finds some starting pitching they're going to be good."
4. Chicago. "Something always goes wrong in Chicago. I think it might be day baseball. The Cubs fans are the worst in the game. They throw hot dogs at you, peanut butter sandwiches, when you go back by the ivy for a fly ball they try to throw their beer on you. And they never let up. I think you go in there with extra incentive because of their fans."
The American League East:
1. Detroit. "And I don't know why, except that Sparky Anderson does a great job. You know, I think Toronto should probably win it, but I don't think (manager) Jimy Williams has shown he can do the job."
4. Boston. "I think it really hurt them to lose (Bruce) Hurst. You just don't replace starting pitching."
5. New York Yankees. "I think (new manager) Dallas Green is a great baseball man, and I hate to pick him fifth. But, I mean, Tommy John? Forty-five years old and he's your opening day pitcher?"
6. Cleveland. "They could surprise, but I don't think they have any pitching, and they don't have a shortstop."
7. Baltimore. "But I think they'll improve."
The American League West:
1. Oakland. "But I think a lot of guys last year had career years, and maybe they can't repeat them."
2. Minnesota. "Kirby Puckett is one of the great players."
3. Kansas City. "An excellent organization. They seem to always do things right."
4. Texas. "Even with the new owners and Nolan Ryan, I think they're suspect."
5. Seattle. "I think Jim Lefevbre will turn it around, but it will take him a year or two to do it."
6. Chicago White Sox. "I don't recognize any of their players; how good can they be?"
So there they are. The inside scoops. Write them down. Chisel them in granite.
As a bonus, Iorg offers these extra predictions:
- "Jose Canseco's going to have a lousy year. You don't get over those wrist injuries. I had one in '83. It kept me out half a year. A guy with that big of a swing, I think it's going to cause him a lot of problems."
- "Corey Snyder's going to lead the American League in home runs."
- "And Dallas Green will last the whole season. I think he's as tough as George Steinbrenner. The only thing is, he could get fed up with the Yankees and leave on his own. If George tells him how to manage his club, that's what he'll do."
Iorg knows his baseball card value (see his Padres card in this column) is riding on all of the above; so is his second career as an expert prognosticator. But he remains unruffled. The way he sees it, what can be so tough about a business when you bat .500 your very first season?