Advertisement

ANGELS ’89 PREVIEW SECTION : Trying to Get by With Touch of Gray : Youth Movement Detoured in Favor of Beat the Clock

Times Staff Writer

Over nachos and iced tea, at the Mexican restaurant where he announced his retirement last fall, ex-Angel Doug DeCinces also served some food for thought concerning the wobbly course being run by his former team.

“They need to change their approach over there,” DeCinces said. “They’re not going to do it with the farm system alone. They’re going to have to bring in some veterans.”

Hardly surprising stuff, coming from a recent casualty of the Angel youth movement. DeCinces was a 1987 victim, pushed out in favor of Jack Howell, just as Rod Carew had been forced out by Wally Joyner in 1986. DeCinces’ peer group was Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich, Don Sutton--not Devon White, Mark McLemore and Bryan Harvey.

A veteran veteran, DeCinces and his advice seemed best taken with a grain of margarita salt. The 1988 Angels might not have been very good, but at least they were young.

Advertisement

And all young players need is time, right?

Time’s up.

Between the final out of their 12th consecutive defeat and the opening workout of their spring camp in Mesa, Ariz., the Angels did their share of retooling. And most of the tools they acquired were of the vintage variety:

Lance Parrish, 32-year-old catcher, came from Philadelphia in a trade for 19-year-old pitcher David Holdridge.

Advertisement

Bert Blyleven, 37-year-old pitcher, was imported from Minnesota for the price of three minor leaguers.

Claudell Washington, 34-year-old outfielder, was signed to a free-agent contract worth $2.6 million over the next three seasons.

Bob McClure, 35-year-old pitcher, was brought in to replace 26-year-old Sherman Corbett as the left-handed bullpen specialist.

Bill Schroeder, 30-year-old reserve catcher, was acquired from Milwaukee in exchange for 27-year-old utility infielder Gus Polidor.

Dave Concepcion, 40, and Glenn Hoffman, 30, were signed as possible replacements for Polidor.

Imagine DeCinces and Angel vice president Mike Port, after all this time, finally finding common ground.

Stop the youth movement, the Angels want to get off.

Port, of course, characterizes the club’s change of course in less dramatic terms. The Anaheim youth revolution presses on, he insists.

Advertisement

All that has been added, he says, is a touch of gray--for that more distinguished look.

“We still have Wally Joyner, Mark McLemore, Dick Schofield, Jack Howell and Devon White,” Port points out, ticking off the names of the Angels’ under-28 brigade.

“Chili Davis is just reaching the 30 mark. Our pitchers--Mike Witt, Kirk McCaskill, Dan Petry, Bryan Harvey--are still reasonably young fellows.

“I would venture to say there’s still a strong youth element to this club.”

Yet, after back-to-back 75-87 finishes in 1987 and 1988, the need for experienced leadership, for additional seasoning, was glaringly obvious. All those new faces didn’t look so fresh after that club-record, season-ending losing streak.

The Angels had gone from too old to too young too quickly, it was argued. This was a ship that needed a rudder.

So Blyleven and his 254 career victories were brought in to impart some winning wisdom on the Angel pitching staff.

Washington, who served as Rickey Henderson’s personal guidance counselor with the New York Yankees, would be the good influence in the Angel clubhouse George Hendrick failed to be.

Advertisement

Concepcion, a relic from the Big Red Machine dynasty days, was invited to camp in hope of (a) losing some weight, (b) making the team, and (c) lending a knowing hand to the young Angel infield.

Parrish? Well, he knew how to win. In 1984, he led Detroit to a World Series championship. And at 32, he wasn’t too old.

In fact, Parrish is nine years younger than the man he succeeds, Bob Boone.

See, the youth movement lives.

Brian Downing, the Angels’ 38-year-old designated hitter, was gladdened no end by these new old arrivals--and not just for the company.

“We brought in a lot of experience, major league veterans who can fill some roles,” Downing said. “That’s going to help. These people have played for winners--and we need all the winning experience we can get.”

In reserve roles, as well as starting roles, Downing said.

“Look at Oakland last year,” he said. “The one thing Oakland did was go out and get some veteran backup players. David Henderson, who came in and really helped. Ron Hassey. Glenn Hubbard at second base. Don Baylor, Dave Parker. Some guys in their pitching staff.

“Most teams give those jobs to some player making the minimum salary, a 23-year-old kid. At least we went out and paid some money for some people who have been through it before. That’s an encouraging sign.”

Of course, whenever experienced hands are brought in, baggage comes attached. Some of it, in the case of the Angels’ old newcomers, would be better off lost in transit.

Blyleven, for instance, turns 38 next week. The Angels can only hope that wasn’t preceded by a turn for the worse. Blyleven became available this winter, mainly because of his summer: 10-17 record, 5.43 earned-run average, thumb injury, contract dispute and repeated shellings under the Metrodome.

With Parrish, the hope is that he brings the Angels a big bat. The fear is that he brings them a bad back. Plagued by back ailments the last two seasons in Philadelphia, Parrish plagued the Phillies with back-to-back batting averages of .245 and .215.

This from the same catcher who hit 28 home runs with 98 runs batted in for Detroit as recently as 1985.

Washington, once nicknamed Pajamas in Chicago, as in Washington Slept Here, only recently revived a career that appeared doomed to the Unfulfilled Potential file. The ex-Athletic, ex-Ranger, ex-White Sox, ex-Met, ex-Brave, ex-Yankee is well-traveled for good reason, but last year in New York, he staged a resuscitation: .308 average, 11 home runs, 64 RBIs, 22 doubles, 15 steals.

An omen for the Angels . . . or a stray blip on the radar screen?

You can flip a coin with Schroeder (14 homers in 1987, .156 in 1988) and McClure (3.44 ERA in 1987, 5.40 in 1988). But with Concepcion, you might want to flip him a muffler and point him to the easy chair. The once-great shortstop batted a humbling .198 last year, was cut by Cincinnati and invited as a non-roster candidate to the Angels’ spring camp. There, Concepcion entered the final weekend at Palm Springs batting .125.

There, Concepcion figured to lose the utility infielder assignment to Hoffman, who was batting .360.

If new Angel Manager Doug Rader might be allowed a little wishful, but realistic, thinking, he would gladly settle for 200 innings and 12 wins from Blyleven; 120 games and 20 home runs from Parrish; .280 and decent outfield play from Washington; a few pinch-hits from Schroeder and a few left-handed outs from McClure.

That would provide a worthwhile complement to the Angels’ young Joyner-White-Schofield-Howell-Harvey nucleus. It would also help buy the Angels some time while prospects Dante Bichette and Jim Abbott commence final big-league preparations.

In a division dominated by the green of the Oakland A’s, the Angels have turned a shade gray. But is it a sane gray? Is older necessarily wiser . . . or just one more roll of the dice by the unluckiest baseball team in existence?

Rader, 44, isn’t expecting miracles. Oakland and Minnesota appear clearly beyond the Angels’ class--and Kansas City and Texas could also be out of reach. Rader is only asking the veterans to provide some improvement, to bid for .500, to take a step in the right direction.

He only wants to trust in someone over 30.

BLYLEVEN’S CAREER

YR TEAM W-L ERA G SHO IP H BB SO 1970 Minn. 10-9 3.18 27 1 164 143 47 135 1971 Minn. 16-15 2.82 38 5 278 1/3 267 59 224 1972 Minn. 17-17 2.73 39 3 287 1/3 247 69 228 1973 Minn. 20-17 2.52 40 9 325 296 67 258 1974 Minn. 17-17 2.66 37 3 281 244 77 249 1975 Minn. 15-10 3.00 35 3 275 2/3 219 84 233 1976 Minn. 4-5 3.13 12 0 95 101 35 75 1976 Texas 9-11 2.76 24 6 202 182 46 144 1977 Texas 14-12 2.72 30 5 234 2/3 181 69 182 1978 Pitt. 14-10 3.02 34 4 244 217 66 182 1979 Pitt. 12-5 3.61 37 0 237 238 92 172 1980 Pitt. 8-13 3.82 34 2 217 219 59 168 1981 Clev. 11-7 2.89 20 1 159 1/3 145 40 107 1982 Clev. 2-2 4.87 4 0 20 1/3 16 11 19 1983 Clev. 7-10 3.91 24 0 156 1/3 160 44 123 1984 Clev. 19-7 2.87 33 4 245 204 74 170 1985 Clev. 9-11 3.26 23 4 179 2/3 163 49 179 1985 Minn. 8-5 3.00 14 1 114 101 26 77 1986 Minn. 17-14 4.01 36 3 271 2/3 262 58 215 1987 Minn. 15-12 4.01 37 1 267 249 101 196 1988 Minn. 10-17 5.43 33 0 207 1/3 240 51 145 19 Seasons 254-226 3.25 611 55 4462 1/3 4094 1224 3431

PARRISH’S CAREER

YR TEAM AVG G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB 1977 Detroit .196 12 46 9 2 0 3 7 0 1978 Detroit .219 85 288 63 1 3 14 41 0 1979 Detroit .276 143 493 136 26 3 19 65 6 1980 Detroit .286 144 553 158 34 6 24 82 6 1981 Detroit .244 96 348 85 18 2 10 46 2 1982 Detroit .284 133 493 138 19 2 32 87 3 1983 Detroit .269 155 605 163 42 3 27 114 1 1984 Detroit .237 147 578 137 16 2 33 98 2 1985 Detroit .273 140 549 150 27 1 28 98 2 1986 Detroit .257 91 327 84 6 1 22 62 0 1987 Phil. .245 130 466 114 21 0 17 67 0 1988 Phil. .215 123 424 91 17 2 15 60 0 12 Seasons .257 1,399 5,163 1,328 239 25 244 827 22

WASHINGTON’S CAREER

YR TEAM AVG G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB 1974 Oakland .285 73 221 63 10 5 0 19 6 1975 Oakland .308 148 590 182 24 7 10 77 40 1976 Oakland .257 134 490 126 20 6 5 53 37 1977 Texas .284 129 524 148 31 2 12 68 21 1978 Texas .167 12 42 7 0 0 0 2 0 1978 Chi. (AL) .264 86 314 83 16 5 6 31 5 1979 Chi. (AL) .280 131 471 132 33 5 13 66 19 1980 Chi. (AL) .289 32 90 26 4 2 1 12 4 1980 N.Y. (NL) .275 79 284 78 16 4 10 42 17 1981 Atlanta .291 85 320 93 22 3 5 37 12 1982 Atlanta .266 150 563 150 24 6 16 80 33 1983 Atlanta .278 134 496 138 24 8 9 44 31 1984 Atlanta .286 120 416 119 21 2 17 61 21 1985 Atlanta .276 122 398 110 14 6 15 43 14 1986 Atlanta .270 40 137 37 11 0 5 14 4 1986 N.Y. (AL) .237 54 135 32 5 0 6 16 6 1987 N.Y. (AL) .279 102 312 87 17 0 9 44 10 1988 N.Y. (AL) .308 126 455 140 22 3 11 64 15 18 Seasons .280 1,757 6,255 1,751 314 64 150 773 295


Advertisement