Outfield Foursomes
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With veteran player being so expensive these days, the days of teams having four outstanding outfielders have long gone. Hold on. Two American League teams right now have very impressive outfield foursomes: the White Sox and Yankees. You might not think they are good enough to compare to the outstanding outfield quartets of my memory, but I`m going to, anyway:


If the White Sox are going to make a go of it this year, they should consider juggling all four outfielders: Ordonez (well, play him every day and juggle the other three), Rowand, Lee, and Borchard. Moving one to DH could give Konerko or Thomas a rest, too. (Will Thomas have a comeback, this year?)


The Yankees have apparently been trying to trade Raul Mondesi. They claim he`s their rightfielder and Matsui is the leftfielder, but that leaves Rondell White still a potential all-star when healthy on the bench. I`m sure Steinbrenner doesn`t like wasting money any more than anyone else. With Nick Johnson playing first once in awhile, Giambi, Williams, Mondesi, and Matsui can each get a day off now and then, and get White into the game frequently.


You would think these guys have enough different pitcher preferences that it would be to their own benefits to have an extra regular.


When was the last time a team used four outfielders as regulars? There must have been, at least, a few teams in the last twenty years that have, but the only one that comes to mind is the contender emerging Blue Jays of `83 and `84. Back then Jessie Barfield was the rightfielder, Lloyd Moseby was the centerfielder, and Dave Collins played leftfield and occasionally center. Barry Bonnel swung between left and right in `83. George Bell replaced him in `84.


I can think of three teams of the 70s, which had a regular quartet of frequently used outfielders over a number of years.


The renaissance Yankees of the late 70s had Roy White, Lou Piniella, Micky Rivers, and Reggie Jackson. Reggie the ``straw that stirred the drink`` was shifted from right to DH often, but that was Cliff Johnson`s or someone else`s job most of the time. Piniella swung from left to right. Those Yankees actually had a 5th solid outfielder as Rivers` defensive replacement in center: Paul Blair.


Blair was the centerfielder of the great Orioles teams that had the best W-L record in the majors three years in a row: `69-`71. Don Buford was in left and Frank Robinson was in right. Merv Retenmund was a super sub for all three outfield positions.


That outfield reflected their rivals: the long-time Tiger outfield of Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley and Al Kaline (left to right). Jim Northrup was the super sub on that team usually ending up with the most games played. Northrup or Kaline could play firstbase, too, giving Norm Cash a rest against many a southpaw. In order to make room for all of them in the `68 World Series, gold glove centerfielder Mickey Stanley played shortstop. It worked so well, he played there for a few months into the following season. However, it was bad for his arm, so ended up back in the outfield, which the four of them continued to share for another few years. In fact, Kaline, Stanley, Horton, Northrup and a 5th outfielder and pinch hitter extraordinaire Gates Brown played together for nine seasons!

John Carter