Pierre in Left a Great Idea

Tony Jackson, the Dodgers LA Times beat writer, suggested this week that the Dodgers might want to move center fielder Juan Pierre to left field. Often beat writers float ideas that come not from within their cranium but from a team "source". If this be the case, it is a positive suggestion.

In 2007, the Dodgers had two fielders with what could only be considered subpar arms, Pierre and Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo isn't coming back, so the chances of having at least two strong arms in the outfield is improved. The two sub-par arms this past year had to account for at least 40-50 runs scored and as many runners taking an extra base to get into scoring position. That's a lot even for Little League baseball and much too much at the professional level much less the big leagues.

Pierre in left also puts him real close to his cutoff man, shortstop Rafy Furcal who possesses a howitzer for an arm. All Rafy,also fleet afoot, would have to do is to run a step or two more into left to handle a short toss from Pierre and then to unfurl a Furcal throw.

The same Jackson story cited the possibility of some coaching changes. While owner Frank McCourt has held onto GM Ned Colletti and field manager Grady Little, at least for one more (maybe last) year, some new faces could bring new outlooks. So don't be surprised to see a new coach or two.

Would Twins free agent center Tori Hunter, past 30, highly paid, and coming from a hitters park, be that much an improvement over Matt Kemp, 25, considerably cheaper, in a "pitchers park"? Both have five tools. 

That might be an expensive way to solve a problem where one doesn't really exist and still leave the biggest question mark at third base. It might make more sense for Adrian Beltré to return home where he had his best year. Or to send a package of kids to Florida for Miguel Cabrera.

There was at least one rumor that Jeff Kent, if he comes back for one final year, would ask for a trade to a team with a better chance at the World Series, something the long time veteran and sure fire Hall of Famer has never had.

The Dodgers would probably accommodate such a request. The Mets could afford Kent. Kent would upgrade the Mets at the position. And they might be willing to dangle Aaron Heilman, the "I Want to be a Starter" in return. Interesting.

Anniversary of Campy's Accident
So it has been 50 years since the Dodgers left Brooklyn. It will also be 50 years soon since the great, great catcher Roy Campanella was paralyzed for life in an auto accident on an icy road, an event that shocked the entire baseball world, stun all of New York City, and just devastated the Dodgers.

A personal favorite of Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley just for being who and what he was, Campy was the real positive influence in the Dodgers clubhouse, the guy who kept the sometimes impulsive Jackie Robinson on the straight and narrow, and a person who as much as anybody else transformed baseball into the modern era.

Campy might very easily have become the first black manager. It is said to have been more than just an idea in the middle (not just the back) of Mr. O'Malley's planning process. As much as Vin Scully, Campy epitomized the heart and soul of the team.

Campy lived for decades inside the shell of that once powerful body. It was a blessing to have gotten to know him over the years at Dodgertown. Even though paralyzed, he always upbeat, grateful to be alive, and remained close to the game, his team, his sport. He was a fine, fine man both before and after his accident.

Campy was half Italian, half Afro-American and all American. He made the Hall of Fame even though as many as 10 of his best years were in the old Negro Leagues or in the minors.

His lovely wife Roxie was to become his arms and legs, nurse, wife and loving companion for so many years, never having been with him when he was hale and healthy.

Campy was the first catcher we ever saw throw a runner out from the crouch (without standing up).

One of the most touching ceremonies in the history of sport was when Campy was wheeled onto the field before 100,000 candlelights in Los Angeles.

Many of Campy's catching students are still active in baseball, including Angels Manager Mike Scioscia.

Campy is gone now but never forgotten. Star, most valuable player, hero, role model. His star shines just as bright today as it did 50 years ago.