Camden Courier Post - December 8, 1980

McGraw signs contract to remain with Phillies

 

By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor

 

DALLAS – Tug McGraw is a showman in the truest Hollywood tradition.

 

The hero of the Phillies' late drive to the world championship stole the spotlight here yesterday as baseball opened its 79th , winter meetings.

 

McGraw, as flamboyant off the field as he is relieving pressure packed games, interrupted an informal press gathering with a long distance, phone call to accept his contract.

 

"I've been at the race track all afternoon," McGraw told Paul Owens, director of player of personnel for the Phillies. "I need some fast cash so I can agree to terms."

 

THE 36-YEAR OLD McGraw was unhittable after Labor Day as he pitched almost daily for Manager Dallas Green down the stretch. He saved both showdown games in Montreal that clinched the Eastern Division title, appeared in all five playoff games as the Phillies defeated Houston, then wrapped up the World Series with some dramatic strikeouts against the Kansas City Royals. He was 1-1 in the Series with two saves.

 

After returning from a bout with tendinitis, McGraw was 5-1 over the last 33 games where he allowed just three runs in 52 innings, saving 13 of those games.

 

When the veteran lefthander indicated he wanted to become a free agent last month, the Phillies gave him their blessing. But no other major league team was willing to take a chance on him and his $2 million price tag.

 

Yesterday, the Phillies rewarded their flaky meal ticket, welcoming him back into the fold with a contract estimated at $1.6 million.

 

"IT'S FOR three years and a half," said Owens. "He gets a guarantee for three years. It gives Tug what he deserves and gives Dallas a pretty damn good bullpen.

 

"He wanted to sign with us and we wanted to keep him. It just took some time."

 

McGraw appeared in 57 games with the Phillies during the season, finishing with a 5-4 record with 20 saves. Lifetime, he is 87-84 with 152 saves, the most by any National League pitcher.

 

"Right now I feel on top of the world," said McGraw. "I called a few clubs and asked how much interest they had in me, but I told them I didn't want to get into playing one team against the other. I went across the top of the table."

 

McGRAW'S signing and the conf irmation of terms between the St. Louis Cardinals and free agent Darrell Porter, the former Kansas City Royal All-Star, were the only items of business as baseball's brass began arriving for the official start of the meetings this morning.

 

The signing of Porter, who has played at least 117 games the past eight years, should be a catalyst which opens up a predicted rash of major trades.

 

St. Louis, which was talking trade because it could not play two star catchers – Ted Simmons and Junior Kennedy – now has three to work with.

 

Obviously General Manager Whitey Herzog did not sign Porter without having something in mind for field Manager Whitey Herzog. The Cardinals are ready to deal.

 

THE SAN DIEGO Padres, who almost completed the trade at the World Series, have offered Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley and Gene Tenace to St. Louis for a deal involving Kennedy.

 

Herzog, though, is in no hurry. He came here with some excess talent such as 1979 co-MVP Keith Hernandez and slick fielding third baseman Ken Reitz.

 

With the right moves, the hitting heavy Cardinals could close the gap on the Phillies in the Naitonal League East.

 

"We're listening, we're listening," said Herzog, who is dealing from strength. Good hitting catchers are a rare item in baseball today.

 

The lobby of the Anatole Hotel is alive with rumors and baseball's wheeler-dealers are holding meetings everywhere.

 

The Houston Astros traded third baseman Enos Cabell and a player to be named later to the San Fran-cisco Giants this morning in exchange for left-handed pitcher Bob Knepper and minor league outfielder Chris Bourjos.

 

Knepper, 26, had a 9-16 record with a 4.10 earned run average for the Giants in 1980 and adds a lefthander to the pitching-rich Astros' staff, which added free-agent righthander Don Sutton last Wednesday.

 

Cabell hit .276 with two home runs and 55 runs batted in for Houston.

 

General Manager Al Rosen of the Astros said that Art Howe, who played first base for Houston's National League West champions last season, would switch to third to replace Cabell. The Astros also said Howe had signed a three-year contract. In another move, Houston said it would not sign veteran second baseman Joe Morgan for 1981. Morgan, 37, signed as a free agent with Houston last winter after a brilliant career with the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .243 with 11 homers and 49 RBI and was a sparkplug in the final weeks of the season as the Astros drove for their first division title.

Phils could trade familiar faces

 

By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor

 

DALLAS – Don't be surprised if the Phillies come home from baseball winter meetings without some very familiar faces.

 

Although the world champions insist they have nothing in mind, the meetings this week could mark the end of some long careers in the Philadelphia pin stripes.

 

"We're not peddling players," insisted Paul Owens, the guy who built his championship team starting with some heavy trading in 1972. "But we don't want get into another 1950 situation."

 

If that sounds like a warning of things to come, it should. After the Phillies won the pennant in 1950, owner Bob Carpenter felt obligated to keep his players. He let his veterans grow old and worthless and never saw his team finish first again.

 

Branch Rickey, the crafty old baseball genius who invented the farm system, always felt it was better, to unload a player a year too early. It is exactly what Owens has in mind.

 

"It is an organizational problem," Owens said yesterday as he dis cussed his team's future. "You have to do what is best for the organization."

 

That means veterans like Greg Luzinski, slipping at 29, and Larry Bowa, a step slower at 35, could be wearing different uniforms next spring. Bowa will only go if the Phillies manage to steal Ivan DeJesus away from the Chicago Cubs.

 

Luzinski is more likely to go.

 

"We know what Bull has done for the organization," said Owens. "He's always been a big part of any success I've had since taking over. But we've got to decide if movement can better the organization."

 

Translated, that means Owens is willing to talk and willing to trade.

 

Manager Dallas Green was even more emphatic.

 

"We didn't have him last year," said Green. "He only gave us a month and a half. He hit 15 home runs in six weeks and four after that.”

It is Green's contention that Luzinski has to get in shape and stay in shape if he is to help the Phillies.

 

"Last year should have shown him what he can do," said Green, who doesn't see eye-to-eye with the Bull and doesn't hide it. "If he is not willing to work hard, he can't help us, really."

 

Translated, that means Green is anxious to talk and anxious to trade.

In Brief:  Coaches rehired

 

The world champion Phillies have rehired coaches Billy DeMars, Bobby Wine, Herm Starrette, Mike Ryan, Lee Elia and Reuben Amaro... Czechoslovakia completed a 4-1 victory over Italy in the final of the 1980 Davis Cup series... Wendy Turnbull of Australia won the New South Wales Building Society Women's Tennis Open in Australia, fighting off seven match points and outlasting young American Pam Shriver 3-6, 6-4, 7-6... Steve Molnar, running the Jersey Shore Marathon in Asbury Park for the third time, won the race with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 29 seconds. Maddy Harmeling was the women's champion... Arnold Palmer sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to defeat Paul Harney and win the 42nd PGA National Seniors Championship in North Miami... Doug Scovil, offensive coordinator at Brigham Young University, arrived in San Diego and all but confirmed that he will replace Claude Gilbert as head football coach of the San Diego State Aztecs.