MILWAUKEE, SEPT. 1 -- The AL's reigning most valuable player slumps into a chair in front of his locker in County Stadium's bleak home clubhouse. He is willing to conduct another analysis of his season of distressing woes, but he certainly isn't enthusiastic about the task. Talking hasn't helped.

Robin Yount begins his latest rendition of a familiar refrain with a shrug of his shoulders and a look of bewilderment. Then he cracks a grin and says: "I guess there isn't a groundswell of MVP support for me this year, huh?"

No, but the Milwaukee Brewers' center fielder has put himself in position to be next season's comeback player of the year. He takes little consolation in that, however. He has made too many comebacks already, and those days were supposed to be over.

He has followed his .318, 103-RBI 1989 -- which resulted in his second MVP selection -- with what likely will turn out to be his worst season. Through Friday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles, he was hitting .230, with 13 home runs and 58 RBI in 130 games.

His previous career-low average was .250 in his rookie year of 1974. He hasn't hit lower than .273 since 1979, and he finished at .306 or above each of the past four seasons.

Manager Tom Trebelhorn said Yount never recovered from the lockout-shortened spring training. Batting coach Don Baylor blames a stance that is too closed and doesn't allow Yount to get around on inside pitches.

Other observers insist Yount (he'll be 35 this month), in his 17th major league season, simply has begun to show the wear of an injury-filled career. This is the only theory to which Yount -- who had 2,714 big-league hits through Friday -- vehemently objects.

"That is completely untrue," he said. "I've heard a lot of things and tried a lot of things this year, but I know one thing for sure: I have some years left in me. I'll list this one in my memoirs as 'Bad season, no repercussions.' "Rangers Like Gonzalez

Major league rosters expanded to 40 players today, yet most of those minor leaguers with the greatest potential for impact have been promoted already. The glaring exception is Texas Rangers outfielder Juan Gonzalez, 20, a power-hitting prodigy who may be in the majors for good.

He is not a hulking figure at the plate, but he had 29 homers and 101 RBI for Class AAA Oklahoma City. His looping swing produced a .258 average and three times as many strikeouts as walks, but Texas officials feel they can instill some discipline to his approach. Despite only average speed, he is described as a first-rate center fielder.

And the Rangers are handling him carefully. "We have no schedule for him," Manager Bobby Valentine said. "He won't be 21 until October. There's no pressure on him. If I have my way, he probably won't even be on our roster when we leave spring training next year. You don't rush a kid like this, a kid who has some holes but real star quality too." . . .

The Oakland Athletics certainly aren't a team to sit on the best record in baseball. As Friday's deadline for submitting postseason rosters neared, they solidified their only apparent weaknesses -- dealing for a solid left-handed hitter, Harold Baines, and a center fielder, Willie McGee, to replace injured Dave Henderson.

The question is why the Chicago White Sox -- still clinging to a thread of a chance in the AL West -- allowed Baines to clear waivers so that the transaction between the A's and Rangers could take place. Permitting McGee to pass by was understandable since Henderson was not hurt at the time the White Sox would have had to make the waiver claim.

But White Sox General Manager Larry Himes admittedly blocked the Athletics' attempts to acquire lefty hitter Kirk Gibson, so why not do the same with Baines? According to one White Sox official, it's because Himes sacrificed this season for a potential advantage in years to come.

"I think {Himes} figured if the A's want to sell their future for their present a little bit he'll let them," the official said. "They wouldn't have had to give up much in the way of prospects for Gibson. For Baines, they'll have to give away two of their young kids {to be named later in the deal}.

"Things turned out well for us, from a looking-ahead viewpoint. Oakland let Felix Jose go and they'll have to sign {free agent-to-be} McGee. I'm not saying they've dismantled their ballclub for next year or anything; that sure isn't the case. But they have eroded their young talent pool just that little bit that might give us an edge somewhere down the line." . . .

No Minors?

The working agreement between major league teams and their minor league affiliates expires in January, and there is considerable sentiment among major league owners that the booming industry of minor league baseball must support itself to a greater degree. Minor league owners are resisting forcefully, and a stare-down contest has resulted that, in the worst-case scenario, threatens to replace the minor league system next year with a season-long instructional league. . . .

Boston Red Sox officials say they're confident they'll sign Roger Clemens to a contract extension before the season is done. Clemens, who's 20-5 with a 1.95 ERA, is signed through 1991, but he and the Red Sox apparently are close to a long-term deal that would make him the game's highest-paid pitcher. That distinction currently is held by California's Mark Langston, who's in the first year of a five-year, $16-million pact. . . . Less enamored with his present contract situation is Darryl Strawberry, who now says the New York Mets will be his 26th choice among 26 teams when he files for free agency this winter. . . .

In 11 games televised by ESPN this season, the Cleveland Indians are 0-9, with one rainout and one snowout. . . . Should Kansas City's George Brett win the AL batting title this year -- he's third in the race -- he'd become the first player in major league history to win in three decades. . . .

The Angels last week invited all military personnel and their dependents to attend the club's remaining home games free of charge. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays project that they'll break the major league attendance record Sept. 17, while the A's are on pace to set a new mark for road attendance. . . .

Orioles first baseman Ron Kittle on being booed recently in Memorial Stadium: "If it was Elmer Fudd out there on the mound, it would bother me. But I thought {Cleveland's Greg} Swindell did a pretty good job, so it doesn't."