Why Mark Sweeney?

Re-signing veteran (38 years young) pinch hitter Mark Sweeney poses a number of questions. The Dodgers surely will open the season with 11 and maybe 12 pitchers. That leaves room for 8 regulars and only five or six bench players. You have to have a backup catcher, so Gary Bennett is one.

The Dodgers have four regular outfielders from which one becomes spare number two. It's inconceivable Matt Kemp would be sent down again just to make way for Mark Sweeney.

The Dodgers surely will keep a minimum of two spare infielders, the loser in the Garciaparra-LaRoche battle at third, and somebody who can play the middle positions, Abreu or Hu or both.

Do you keep resurrected Ramon Martinez or Mark Sweeney or neither?

Where does that leave Jason Repko or last year's Las Vegas MVP Delwyn Young? Do you keep a Mark Sweeney over these guys who also can play afield, which Sweeney can't.

One wonders if everybody, like Jason Repko, is healthy and ready to go, Sweeney is agreeable to being sent down to AAA to get swings in until injury or something else requires him at the big league level. The same with Ramon Martinez.

Minor league shortstop Hu got a call to the big club in the September callup and its hard to see anybody fielding with him as the second base or shortstop backup.

The Dodgers enter spring training with the 40-man roster supplemented by non-roster invitees. There are almost 40 big league veterans. Joe Torre might want two situational lefties in the bullpen, and has two veterans, Mike Myers and Tom Martin, angling for such a job.

If Yhency Brazoban is health, do you bring the hard thrower back or keep 39 year old Rudy Seanez? The Dodgers might be considering a spring training deal, one which might solve the problem of which three outfielders to start. They have four.


Mike McHale of the LA Daily News had a great valedictory piece on Vero Beach on Tuesday morning. He mostly remember the good things. Across town, columnist Bill Plaschke of the Times also did a Vero Beach piece, not one the Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce will be duplicating or using anytime soon. One saw the glass half full (wistfully), the other saw the glass half empty. Being a couple of dozen years older than Plaschke, we have more memories of the good times. Plaschke was at least right when he ascribed most of the good times to the O'Malley years.  


The Dodgers are likely to enter the season with jet lag, starting in Vero, half of them jetting more than halfway around the world for two games in China, then regrouping in Arizona before a three game final set with the World Champion Red Sox in LA before the season opener. One of the problems with this is that Torre in his first season at the helm will have seen half of his squad less than if spring training had all been in one place. One wonders if the older veterans will get a pass on the China trip, saving the wear and tear on them.


In spite of Bill Plaschke's comments on the Vero Beach complex, as long as there is any spring training in Florida, there will be teams who want the intimacy of the Vero Beach site. There are still plenty of baseball fans who love the intimacy of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Many of the new parks like Camden Yards are being built that way. And in all of spring training, there is only one Vero Beach.  Quaint yes but still a good place for baseball.
Brother Plaschke gripped about area hotel and accommodation rates. But, compared to baseball prices, they aren't out of line. Parking used to be free. Now you pay more for parking than you did for the tickets in the old days.  There were days when we had an apartment or two and we put up veteran (now retired) Gordon Verrell, a Dodgers minor league manager or two, and even a minor league general manager in our time.


Plaschke never met Bob Barvey, who has long since passed away. Barvey was a personal favorite of Walter O'Malley, and Walter would borrow Barvey from the Harry M. Stevens catering outfit for spring training. Besides being chef in residence, Barvey was also dragooned as personal factotum for Mr. O'Malley and his guests at a fishing lodge and poker emporium at Blue Cypress Lake outside Vero Beach. 

He told us, under an embargo until both he and Mr. O'Malley had passed away, of many interesting nights. To tell you the truth, it is not likely that L.A. would not be in L.A. today without some intimate brokering over a few drinks, a few hands of cards and such. 

Barvey told us of a very young Don Drysdale driving from California to Vero in a wood-sided station wagon and getting kitchen help to wash off all the tar collected all the way for a $5 bill. Also of when Roy Campanella would annually stop by, slip Barvey a $50, and suggest he wanted the end cut of any roast beef and his chum Don Newcombe would really like the first cut.  

One of our favorite nights was sitting at the Dodgers bar, sans any cash register, with our chum Johnny Podres and Mssrs. Koufax and Drysdale talking baseball into the wee hours.  When the Dodgers pull out of Vero Beach, they will leave many, many memories and ghosts behind. Arizona will have to start their own memories from scratch.