The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of talent. Just to show you how much talent they have, consider this: They are in first place in the NL West despite being in the midst of the Pete "The Greek" Rose gambling controversy, and despite having Rose for a mana-ger.
Reds owner Marge Schott, of course, has said she stands firmly behind her beleaguered skipper and has taken no steps toward locating a replacement should Cincinnati's favorite baseball son be suspended. Or banned.That seems a little shortsighted, but then, Marge has never been known for her baseball sense. Or any . . . OK, OK, we'll ease up on Marge. (But here's one of life's great unanswered questions: How do people like her end up with money?)
Anyway, the word around the NL is that former Pittsburgh and Atlanta skipper Chuck Tanner has made several calls to Marge, offering his services should Rose vacate the premises.
It's a hard thing to say, given a general low opinion of Tanner's managerial skills, but the guy might actually do a good job with the Reds, since they already have the ability and could possibly thrive away from the frequently aloof Rose.
Others mentioned as possible replacements are ex-Astros Manager Hal Lanier and Reds coaches Tony Perez and Dave Bristol. Lanier would be a bad choice; he's too stiff and unbending and the Reds may need a gentler rein. Perez is an unknown, managerially speaking, but Bristol managed four different teams over a 14-year period from 1966-1980 and never finished higher than third. His lifetime winning percentage as a skipper is .463.
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DUBIOUS ACHIEVEMENTS: Wally Joyner and Dale Murphy are among a select group of seven players who have suffered declines of 20 or more homers from one season to the next even while their at-bats increased. Last season Joyner hit 13 homers after slugging 34 the year before, and Murphy hit 24 after tallying 44 in '87. Must have been the lively balls, huh?
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SEAVER ON SNYDER: Tom Seaver's Scouting Notebook had this to say about Cleveland's Cory Snyder:
Overall the book rated him 13th among AL outfielders, just behind Glenn Braggs and ahead of Dave Henderson. ". . . already one of the best rightfielders in the AL and promises to get better. The one negative is that his bat hasn't progressed as fast as scouts expected . . . was a much improved breaking ball hitter by the end of the 1988 season . . ." Hits .340 vs. lefties, .250 vs. righties. And, strangely, hits .315 on the road and barely .230 at home.
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CONSISTENT WALLY: Joyner's slow start shouldn't be too big a surprise. Last year he finished April with 1 HR and 6 RBI. This year he finished April with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Maybe next year he can just mail those numbers in and stay on the golf course another month. On the bright side, he also finished this April by running his errorless streak to 62 consecutive games, a club record.
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CARD CORNER: Here's a look at how this year's rookie players whose baseball cards are considered most desirable are doing so far:
- Gregg Jefferies, Mets: Manager Davey Johnson recently announced that everyone's choice for Rookie of the Year would be platooned with Tim Teufel. Through Saturday's game with the Astros, the free-swinging Jefferies had walked exactly once. He has zero homers, 12 RBI and a .185 BA.
- Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners: Has been on hot streak lately, including hits in eight straight at-bats. Three HRs, nine RBI, .310.
- Gary Sheffield, Brewers: Four HRs, but also only seven RBI. Hitting better of late, raised average to .234 after dismal start.
- Randy Johnson, Expos: The 6-10 pitcher has had a hard time finding the strike zone. He's 0-3 with a 5.61 ERA. Maybe they should lower the mound.
A less-heralded rookie who is doing well is the Royals' Tom Gordon, who is 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA, all in long relief.
Two rookie pitchers who could be back to the bigs shortly are the Mets' Dave West and the Dodgers' Ramon Martinez. Through games of last Sunday, they had each won five and had respective ERAs of 1.15 and 1.40.
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SHORT STUFF: Dale Murphy, whose contract includes a clause allowing him to veto any trade, reportedly has decided he wants to stay in Atlanta . . . Vance Law had the NL's third-lowest slugging percentage for the month of April, at .207 . . . Mike Morgan of the Dodgers currently leads the league in ERA, at 0.82 . . . Bruce Hurst is 8th in the NL in strikeouts with 34.