Who’s On Base?: McGriff and Dye Find New Homes Away from Home

By John A. Poole
Updated: June 4, 2008

Fred McGriff Jermaine DyeGLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND — The last full week of July brought about a lot of activity, both on the field and in the front office. As the July 31st trade deadline approached, many teams were positioning themselves to be able to make a run at their respective league’s pennant. The Chicago Cubs, of the NL Central division, made the strongest move of any team in baseball by acquiring the services of Tampa Bay Devil Rays first baseman Fred McGriff. McGriff will provide a needed bat behind slugger Sammy Sosa and hopefully allow Sosa to see more quality pitches during his at-bats.

McGriff has 19 home runs this year and a career total of 436. By adding McGriff to the Cubs lineup, it makes Chicago the fifth team ever to have two career-400, home run hitters in the same lineup. Commenting on the combination of Sosa and McGriff, Don Baylor, manager of the Cubs had this to say, “It will give Sammy the opportunity to relax and maybe not go out of the strike zone and swing at pitches where he feels like he’s the only one out there who has to do it.”

In 16 seasons and with five different teams, McGriff has never hit more than 36 home runs in any season but has managed to total over 430 home runs and still may have two more full seasons left in his body. And when McGriff was asked about being in the lineup with another 400 home run hitter, all he had to say was, “I can’t let him catch me.” Sosa currently has 421 home runs, which is just 15 behind McGriff.

In the American league, the Oakland A’s have proved to the entire league that they want to make the postseason for the second straight year. On July 25th, the A’s acquired the rights to Jermaine Dye from the Kansas City Royals. Bringing Dye to the A’s helps out 2000 MVP Jason Giambi in the lineup and, along with Johnny Damon and Miguel Tejada, the A’s will be looking for added run support for a very strong, starting pitching rotation. Oakland is just four and a half games out of the wild card spot and, with a wild card berth, they would be right on pace with the team from last year. But, in 2001, the A’s want more than a berth. They want a pennant. To win the pennant, though, they will more than likely need to beat a team that is on its way to becoming very strong down the stretch.

On Friday and Sunday of this week, the Boston Red Sox got two players back from the disabled list. Brett Saberhagen made his season debut against the Chicago White Sox on Friday and pitched six full innings, only giving up six hits and one earned run in his first appearance since 1999. The Red Sox beat the White Sox, 9-5, staying just three and a half games behind the first place Yankees.

On Sunday, the Red Sox received maybe the biggest present of the 2001 season, as Nomar Garciaparra made his first appearance of 2001 and made it in a big way. Nomar went 2-4 with a solo home run and a single in the seventh inning that knocked in two runs to decide the game during Sunday’s contest.

“The wrist feels good,” said Garciaparra after the game on Sunday. He went on to say he doesn’t think he will be feeling any pain at all anytime soon because of the high he was on after the game. The Red Sox have been waiting for Nomar to return and see how strong this offense can be when added to Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon and Carl Everett. As of July 31st, the Sox are in the lead of the wild card race but only by a half game over the Minnesota Twins. Although the Twins started out like gangbusters, they have lost their last three contests and eight of their last ten. Boston is hoping that Pedro Martinez will be healthy by September 1st and able to provide the added spark to catapult the Sox to either a division championship or a wild card berth to make the playoffs. Will the curse of the Bambino strike at Fenway again? Only time will tell, but I’m sure the fans in Boston are ready for the curse to finally end.

Please make sure you come back next week as we take a look around the league to see who the unsung heroes of the league are this year.

Edited by Pam Gare