The winter meetings ended with Kirk Gibson still the left fielder for the Detroit Tigers, which wasn't what a couple of teams had planned. The Los Angeles Dodgers, tired of Pedro Guerrero's sour attitude and iron glove, were ready to take Gibson in a one-for-one swap.

So were the New York Yankees, who were offering Dave Winfield and probably one other player.

The Tigers think Gibson makes too much, is hurt too often and isn't that hot on defense.

He remains with the Tigers because of the collusion case involving free agents after the 1986 season. Next year an arbitrator will award damages to Gibson and other players who were forced back to their previous teams that winter.

The betting inside baseball is that he will be awarded cash damages. The problem this week was figuring who would be liable -- the Tigers, Gibson's new team or major league baseball. The owners' Player Relations Committee couldn't decide, either, so Gibson remains a Tiger.

Movement Out West

Ten games separated the first- and last-place teams in the American League West last season, and that might have been one reason that only Minnesota and Texas left the meetings without making significant moves. The Royals made the most dramatic move, giving up four young pitchers to get Floyd Bannister from Chicago.

That probably made the Royals' favorites to win the AL West, and General Manager John Schuerholz explained the trade this way: "We have guys like George Brett, Willie Wilson and Frank White who are at a top level and should be a few more years. We anguished over giving up those guys, but from our perspective we think we now have a legitimate shot to win the division."

The Kansas City Chiefs have sold more than 70,000 tickets for today's game with the Los Angeles Raiders, a game for which Royals outfielder Bo Jackson will return to Missouri. Hearing about the huge advance sale for a team that has had trouble drawing fans, Manager Whitey Herzog of the baseball Cardinals, said: "He's already done more for the Chiefs than he did all year for the Royals."

That's funny unless you sit in the front office of the Royals, who have no idea if he will try baseball again. If he does, the Royals might send him to Class AAA Omaha.

He had 18 homers and 45 RBI before the all-star break, but only four homers and eight RBI after it. Another problem is salary. He's due to make $533,000 next season, and outfielder Danny Tartabull, who hit .309 with 34 homers and 101 RBI, wants a raise. Tartabull earned $145,000 in 1986 and said: "I did more in one month than he ever did in the sport."

One of the prospects Schuerholz didn't give up for Bannister was outfielder Gary Thurman, 23, who may be as fast as Jackson and is tearing up the winter league. . . .

Nolan Ryan's 2.76 ERA was the best in the National League last season, but his record was 8-16. One reason was that his right elbow hurt. Now, he says it feels better than it has in years. "That would have meant five more wins last season, and five more might have won him the Cy Young," Astros Manager Hal Lanier said. . . .

The Toronto Blue Jays have already sold 131 of the 161 luxury suites for their new stadium. Fans paid $100,000 to $225,000 for 10-year leases to the suites, and the total amount spent is already more than $39 million. Additionally, fans must buy a season ticket for every seat in the suite. . . .

With the acquisition of center fielder Gary Pettis from California (for Dan Petry), the Tigers will shift Chet Lemon to right field, which probably won't please him. It looks like a gamble in other ways because Pettis hit .208 and had 17 RBI in 394 at-bats last season.

However, the Tigers believe that, if he'll bunt more and slap the ball to all parts of Tiger Stadium, he could hit .260. If not, it may not matter. The Tigers scored 896 runs last season and can more than afford to carry him. . . .

Now that Alfredo Griffin's traded, the Oakland Athletics will make Walt Weiss, 24, their shortstop. They also plan on a new second baseman and are considering free-agent Glenn Hubbard.

Stealing a Pitcher

The biggest steal of the week appeared to be reliever Lee Smith. Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson promptly announced that, with Smith, the Boston Red Sox would win by 10 games in 1988. Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman said he'd just made his team the best in the AL East.

But the Cubs had reasons for trading Smith. At 30, he's supposed to have bad knees and has never been a fitness fanatic. But even with all that, he still throws 94 mph and saved 36 games last season -- 20 more than the whole Boston bullpen.

"Our reports say Smith isn't what he once was," Texas General Manager Tom Grieve said. "They said the same thing about {Jeff} Reardon." It was Reardon who pushed the Minnesota Twins to their first world championship.

The Cubs got Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi for Smith, and, despite Nipper's 42-43 career record, he gave the Yankees fits. Last season, he was 4-0 against them. He has now made 107 career starts without a shutout, the third-longest such streak in history. Roy Mahaffey started 126 games in 1927-36 and never pitched a shutout . . .

Do the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles need pitching? The Braves have 17 pitchers on their roster, but only two of them have more than 35 career victories: Rick Mahler with 69 and Bruce Sutter with 67. Sutter hasn't pitched since May 27, 1986, because of shoulder problems, but has a mound in his backyard and will try once more.

The Orioles have 17, too, and only three have more than 33 career victories: Scott McGregor (138), Mike Boddicker (73) and Don Aase (62). McGregor has a shoulder injury and has declined to undergo surgery, and Aase is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Quote of the Week

"I'm starting to wonder how I lost this thing. You're about the 40th person that told me that." -- Milwauke Manager Tom Trebelhorn after a reporter told him he'd gotten his vote for manager of the year (Minnesota's Tom Kelly won).