Tacoma's Tigers Lack Pitching And Power
By ED HONEYWELL
Tacoma News Tribune
TACOMA, (AP)—If the Western International league is as strong in 1951 as it was last season the Tacoma Tigers can't be considered pennant-contenders at this writing.
The principal reason for the doleful expression on Manager James Benton (Jim) Brillheart's physiognomy is the absence from the roster of Bob (Big Pitch) Kerrigan and Dick (Big Punch) Greco.
Kerrigan set a new W-I league record by winning 26 games last season while being beaten but seven times and thereby won himself a promotion to the parent San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast league.
Greco, runner-up in the league batting race with a .360 average, led the circuit in runs-batted-in with 154; home runs with 36; hits, with 203; and total bases, with 363. But the big outfielder was drafted during the winter by Birmingham of the Southern association.
Tom Kipp, a capable left-hander who had an 8-4 record while compiling the league's best earned run average of 2.76, is a holdout who hasn't shown even mild interest in proffered terms, and Mel Knezovich (14-12), who balked at reporting to Wilkes-Barre, are a pair of 1950 Tacoma flingers who could be back.
So lack of pitching and power constitutes a double-barreled problem for Brillheart.
A token mound contribution from the Padres was forth-coming this week when Gary Clark, a big right-hander who won 18 and lost 11 with Tijuana of the Sunset league last season, was optioned here. Knezovich's contract may also be assigned back to the Bengals.
Beyond that, Brillheart has Guzman Amador (25-7) with Mexicala of the Sunset loop in 1950, Ivan Goldizen (10-8 with Bakersfield) Manuel Fiero (13-15 with Tucson of the Arizona Texas league), and Rookies Harry Theodosis, Keith Bowman and Jim McDaniel, who say limited service last season with Tucson, Tacoma and Bakersfield, respectively, after being signed midway in the campaign.
Bill Sheets is back as the No. 1 catcher — if he can hold off the challenges supplied by Marion Watson, a distance clouter who maced .343 for El Centro of the Sunset loop, and Lee Smith, up from Bakersfield. Sheets, after a big year at the plate in 1949, hit only .263 last season.
INFIELD LOOKS GOOD
The Veteran Cyril (Butch) Moran, who batted a cool .413 in 80-odd games as player-manager at Yuma in the Sunset loop last year and who was signed as a free agent a fortnight back, looks like an adequate replacement for Quinn, and Jose Bache and Mike Catron are back from last year's brilliant inner Cordon. They played short and third respectively, in 1950, but may be moved to second and short this season.
Third-baseman Merv Dubbers moving up from Bakersfield, and second-baseman Willie Moore an acquisition from Spartansburg, are battling for jobs.
Sol Israel (.292) and Orrin Snyder (.233) are holdover outfielders, and the addition of Ernie Falappino, up from Tijuana and John Kovenz, a Bakersfield jrad, complete a garden corps which can gallop and throw. None of them, however, hits like Greco.
At least two more pitchers, a hard-hitting outfielder and perhaps an infielder capable of batting .280 constitute Brillheart's estimate of what he'll need in order to make an important bid for the 1951 flag. He hasn't given up hope, however since most of the key men on last year's club were supplied after the campaign got under way, and the farm chain resources of the Cleveland Indians with whom San Diego is allied may be productive of the necessary help.