The Detroit Tigers: their strong run at baseball 1981's split-season playoffs ought to have bolstered their confidence, right? Wrong. It's more like paranoia prevailing.
Item: Reporter obtains copy of Tigers' confidential ratings of their major- and minor-league talent (no 10s) and it's published on eve of the winter meetings. Tigers yowl that release of the information (though, Lord knows, opposing scouts' appraisals couldn't have been much different) hurts their trading potential.
Item: Tiger General Manager Jim Campbell now imposes restrictions on the reporter, Vern Plagenhoef of Grand Rapids, who follows the club from spring training on through the season. Noting that Plagenhoef "says that someone gave him the report and that puts everyone in the organization under suspicion; I don't agree that someone gave it to him," Campbell "to tighten security" will deny the writer access to Tigers' executive offices, charter flights, team buses and (gasp!) stadium hospitality room . . .
Item: Tigers hire Tal Smith, the former baseball executive now a consultant, to represent them in salary disputes that go to arbitration. Last year Smith assisted the Oakland A's in arbitration victories over Tony Armas and Mike Norris, saving that club $440,000. Detroit has lost such cases to Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Steve Kemp (twice); faces as many as 11 this year (hearings Feb. 1-20 after Jan. 15-25 filing period for players). Ratings leak or not, the Tigers managed to trade Kemp to the White Sox for Chet Lemon, but among those unsigned and maybe headed for arbitration are the two top rated on the "confidential" scale: Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson.