Philadelphia Daily News - December 11, 1980
The Eyes of Texas Are on Bowa
By Bill Conlin
DALLAS – The Texas Rangers want Larry Bowa.
Dallas Green would trade his shortstop faster than it takes Bowa to rip him on his WWDB commentary.
But this is an era of certain inflexible baseball realities. Despite Green's willingness to go through the 1981 season with Luis Aguayo at short while the Phillies wait for the arrival of Dominican phenom Julio Franco, the reality of the Bow situation is that the Phillies can't trade Bowa without his permission.
He's a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the majors, five with one team), and there's a better chance the Soviet Union will let Poland embrace capitalism than there is that Larry will approve a trade to Texas.
Blocked by contractual roadblocks which prevented them from completing a multi-player deal with the Rangers at the 1979 winter meetings, Paul Owens was taking another shot last night at his old horse-trading buddy, Eddie Robinson.
THE RANGERS were their latest and best hope of making a deal here this week. Earlier in the day, their proposed Sixto Lezcano deal with Milwaukee was floundering dead in the water while irrepressible, relentless Cardinal field boss Whitey Herzog closed in on a deal which would send Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich to the Brewers for Lezcano, second baseman Jim Gantner and starting righthander Lary Sorenson.
Owens helped kill the time he spent in limbo waiting for Milwaukee to move by turning down a one-for-two deal with the ambitious Toronto Blue Jays. In return for righthander Jim Clancy, righthander Dave Stieb or shortstop Alfredo Griffin, the American League East seventh-placers wanted Marty Bystrom and left-handed phenom Mark Davis.
"We thought they were a little heavy," Owens said with delicious understatement. "We like what they're offering."
The heavy-handed Mets, still dealing like a pennant winner and desperate to come up with the power hitter Dave Winfield says they must add to their spavined lineup before he accepts their incredible money offer, also came knocking.
THE PHILLIES like Joel Youngblood and Neil Allen. Especially Neil Allen, the bright young relief ace. They don't think Youngblood and Allen is too outrageous a price for the Mets to pay for Greg Luzinski. But the Mets have a rich tradition of regarding their flawed gems as perfect diamonds.
Would Winfield approve of the Bull? Hey, aren't we in a terrific era when free agents have a voice in trades?
"A big deal would involve Al Oliver," a Phillies spokesman said, asking to remain unnamed. "A smaller deal would involve Jim Kern. The Rangers are interested in Bowa. They also have interest in Lerch. We really don't know how they feel about Bull. We like Oliver. And we like Kern – if he's sound."
Kern was the American League's premier relief pitcher in 1979, a strikeout star who had 31 saves, a 13-5 record and a 1.57 ERA. But the 31-year-old righthander tailed off badly last season, going 3-11 with a 4 83 ERA and only one save in 38 appearances. Kern had arm problems and the Phillies will proceed cautiously.
Oliver, a player the Rangers always talk about trading but never do, remains one of the game's best pure hitters. The 34-year-old outfielder had another excellent year, hitting .319 with 19 homers and 117 RBI. He would play left field for the Phillies, leaving Bake McBride and Lonnie Smith to share right. Oliver would be the big hitter the Phillies feel they must have in the lineup behind Mike Schmidt. It is such a high priority item, Dallas Green is considering playing Keith Moreland in left it Luzinski is subtracted.
THE RANGERS didn't even give Kevin Saucier, the Phillies player they received for Sparky Lyle, time to unpack his bags. They traded the left-handed reliever to the Tigers last night for shortstop Mark Wagner. Wagner, once considered the club's shortstop of the future, lost his job to brilliant young Alan Trammell. Texas had such a good line on Saucier he was identified as a righthander in the typed announcement. Mavbe they think Randy Lerch is a righthander, too.
The trading pace of the meetings, never a sprint if you eliminate the dramatic Cardinals offensive, slackened while everybody waited for Herzog to unveil phase three of one of the most massive shakeups in recent baseball history.
The Astros signed free agent Dave Roberts, an obvious move once they traded Enos Cabell to San Francisco. Art Howe will play third base tor the Western Division champions, but they will need a solid backup for the brittle infielder. Roberts was drafted as a third baseman.
The Astros gave him a five-year contract and departed from usual baseball practice by announcing the terms – $1.1 million.
"If we didn't give you the figures you guys would find it out anyway." said Astros President Al Rosen. "And when you guys guess, you usually guess high."
The press spent the day poised for the announcement of a major trade between the Angels and Red Sox that came last night. It will send third baseman Butch Hobson and shortstop Rick Burleson to California for third baseman Carney Lansford, right-handed reliever Mark Clear and outfielder Rick Miller.
THE PADRES completed the 11-player deal with St. Louis by giving up catcher Bob Geren, who spent last season in Class A.
"We could make two trades and go home," Owens said. "But we're not here just to make trades we can make. We're looking to improve the ballclub.
"We had two meetings with Dick Wagner of the Reds today, but I really don't know where we are with them. I'd rather just say I've talked to them and not name names at this time. I guess a lot of clubs are waiting for Whitey to make his next move. II it's with Milwaukee that leaves us pretty much dead with them. We like three or four of the White Sox' young pitchers. Other than that I don't have a helluva lot to report. I haven't got back to the Giants (about Luzinski) because of their manager situation."
Insiders seem to think the Giants will hire longtime organization man Jim Davenport. But Gene Mauch's name keeps coming up. If Gene manages in 1981 it will have to be in the National League. Under terms by which Minnesota agreed to release him from his contract, Mauch has agreed not to manage in the American League next season.