Sparky Anderson expounds on super pay, Yankees, Tiger hopes
"I'm not in favor of the super contracts that a lot of baseball players are getting today, especially free agents," said Manager Sparky Anderson of the Detroit Tigers. "You give a man too much in the way of money and security and you spoil him.
"In fact, some of those guys with big contracts are now beginning to expect special treatment in the clubhouse and on the field and that's wrong," Anderson continued. "Once a man puts on his uniform, he's no different than anyone else on his team."
Sparky did, however, have some unexpected praise for Owner George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, who seems to have a permanent hold on first place in the American League East.
"Of all the owners who have gone into the free-agent market or traded for high-priced established players, I can't think of anyone who has spent his money more wisely than Steinbrenner," Anderson explained. "George didn't just go out and buy a bunch of name players. Instead he filled positions with people he already knew could help him.
"Take Tommy John, for example, John has been a winner every place he's ever pitched [Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles] and he never gives you any trouble. Willie Randolph was a kid when the Yankees got him from Pittsburgh and now he's the best second baseman in the American League.
"Steinbrenner loses Thurman Munson and so he goes out and makes a deal with Toronto for Rick Cerone, who is an outstanding young catcher. Most people think the Yankees traded for Seattle's Ruppert Jones because they wanted another bat. But I can tell you why they traded -- because Steinbrenner knew he probably couldn't win a pennant unless he had someone who could cover that vast center field area in Yankee Stadium and because Jones has an exceptional arm."
Told that he sounded like a manager who was conceding the American League East race to the Yankees, Anderson replied: "I'm not conceding anything, because there is still the rest of this month, plus August and September, and you never know what Milwaukee or Baltimore or even the tigers might do.
"But when a team is as many games over the .500 mark as the Yankees are, I don't think you're creating any extra barriers for your team by being realistic. My feeling is that most of the players on the Tigers, and remember we're a young team, are thinking more in terms of how good a record we can have, rather than what we have to do to win a pennant."
Anderson, in what amounts to a pretty candid opinion for a big league manager , says the Tigers are four players away from making believers out of the baseball world.
"Basically I've got one of the best young teams in the majors, only right now most people aren't sure that we're really that good," Sparky said. "But I know these kids and I know what they can do and it's not a case of guessing any more about our future, because the ingredients are there.
"We've got a kid in Lance Parrish, who in a couple of years has a chance to be the No. 1 catcher in the American League and who is just beginning to hit with power. Right now Boston has a more experienced shortstop in Rick Burleson than we do in Alan Trammell, but by next season nobody in our league will be able to touch Trammell.
"To really be pennant contenders we need two pitchers, and I mean a starter who can win 15 or 16 and a reliever who can save at least that many, plus two other kids who can either play everyday or do a job for me off the bench. And this winter, of course, we're going to try to get them."
Asked if he had changed as a manager since moving to Detroit from Cincinnati, where he won two World Series, four pennants, and five division titles in nine years, Anderson replied:
"If you're talking about a personality change, I don't think I'm the guy to ask. Why don't you talk to Alex Grammas, who also coached for me in Cincinnati. But if you're referring to my philosophy as a manager, I'm the same guy I've always been, except for one thing.
"My last two years in Cincinnati I had a veteran ball club that I talked with very little. I found myself in a situation there where words weren't going to make any difference one way or the other, so I didn't have many meetings. But I talk baseball to these kids all the time because they need to be reminded of so many things, yet I really wouldn't call myself a teacher."