Getting a move on

April 02, 2000|By Andy Knobel

Getting a move on

An All-Star team of old faces in new places:

SP -- Mike Hampton, Mets: Ground-ball pitcher joins best defensive infield.

SP -- Chuck Finley, Indians: Finally, a left-hander to match up with Yankees.

SP -- Aaron Sele, Mariners: 37 wins past two seasons trails only Pedro Martinez's 42.

SP -- Andy Ashby, Phillies: Becomes third 1999 All-Star in Philly rotation.

RP -- Dave Veres, Cardinals: 31 saves in '99; 2.83 ERA in '98 despite home games at Coors.

RP -- Mike Jackson, Phillies: How is shoulder after major-league-most 644 games in the 1990s?

C -- Henry Blanco, Brewers: Threw out NL-best 38.6 percent of runners trying to steal.

1B: John Olerud, Mariners: Reached base in 151 games, third in majors.

2B: Quilvio Veras, Braves: Atlanta's first true leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton.

SS: Jose Valentin, White Sox: Replaces Mike Caruso, who had 59 errors in 1998-1999.

3B: Jeff Cirillo, Rockies: Second in majors with 64 multi-hit games.

OF: Ken Griffey, Reds: Led AL in homers and trade demands past three years.

OF: Juan Gonzalez, Tigers: First two-time MVP traded in his prime.

OF: Shawn Green, Dodgers: Led American League in total bases and extra-base hits.

OF: Raul Mondesi, Blue Jays: Like Green, 40-homer, 40-steal potential.

OF: Greg Vaughn, Devil Rays: 95 homers the past two seasons.

OF: Roger Cedeno, Astros: Second in majors in steals.

OF: Carl Everett: Red Sox: Tenth in slugging average in NL.

Look who's back

Sure, Cal Ripken has made a remarkably swift return from back surgery, but can someone who hit .340 really win Comeback Player of the Year? Some other candidates:

Kerry Wood, Cubs, P: '98 NL Rookie of the Year had reconstructive elbow surgery last April. Don't expect another 20-strikeout game.

Andres Galarraga, Braves, 1B: Averaged 44 homers and 137 RBIs in three seasons before missing 1999 with back cancer.

Javier Lopez, Braves, C: Tore ACL in July, one year after a 34-homer, 106-RBI season.

Jason Kendall, Pirates C: All-Star suffered gruesome dislocated right ankle in July.

Kerry Ligtenberg, Braves, P: Saved 30 games as rookie before missing last season with torn elbow ligament.

Moises Alou, Astros, OF: Drove in 115 runs in '97 and 124 in '98 before missing last season with torn knee ligament.

Todd Hundley, Dodgers, C: Hit .207 with 16 errors, but former 41-home run hitter's elbow is healthy now.

Deep thoughts

Seven players could reach 400 home runs this season. What are their chances of eventually getting to 500?

Ken Griffey (398, age 30): 500? Shouldn't we be talking about 800?

Fred McGriff (390, age 36): Crime Dog can unleash challenge.

Harold Baines (373, age 41): None, but 400 homers and possible 3,000 hits could mean Hall of Fame.

Rafael Palmeiro (361, age 35): Power Ranger could reach 600.

Albert Belle (358, age 33): Power Oriole should eclipse him.

Juan Gonzalez (340, 30): Juan Gone almost on Griffey-like pace, but Comerica Park will stunt progress.

Sammy Sosa (336, 31): 60 a year makes up a lot of ground.

Oldies but goodies

Four who will become four-decade players by getting into a game this season:

Mike Morgan, Diamondbacks, P: Was 2-13 in 1970s, including 3-0 loss at Memorial Stadium in debut. Arizona is his 12th team, extending a major-league suitcase record.

Jesse Orosco, Cardinals, P: 18 of his major-league-record 1,090 games pitched were in '70s.

Rickey Henderson, Mets, OF: Had 33 of major-league-record 1,334 steals in '70s.

Opening playoff gates

Three teams will debut ballparks this season. Can playoff games be far behind? Recently built parks and how quickly their home teams have reached the postseason:

Stadium Team Open Playoffs

SkyDome Blue Jays 1989 1989

Comiskey Park White Sox 1991 1993

Camden Yards Orioles 1992 1996

Jacobs Field Indians 1994 1995

The Ballpark Rangers 1994 1996

Coors Field Rockies 1995 1995

Turner Field Braves 1997 1997

Bank One Ballpark D'backs 1998 1999

Safeco Field Mariners 1999 -

Enron Field Astros 2000 -

Skinny: Ownership spoiled celebratory mood by slashing Mike Hampton and Carl Everett from payroll.

Pacific Bell Park Giants 2000-

Skinny: House will be packed for a change, but debt service is so high that team might not have money to sink into roster renovations.

Comerica Park Tigers 2000 -

Skinny: Do you think management would have offered Juan Gonzalez $140 million if games were still at Tiger Stadium?

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