Still Three Outs in an Inning, Mark

Brace yourselves: may contain actual baseball content.sweeney1.jpg

As many of us expected, is reporting that the Dodgers are close to re-signing 1B/OF/PH Mark Sweeney to a one-year deal. He’ll “pinch hit and log some at-bats as a reserve at first base and the outfield.” I realize this is a team that carried Big Sexy Saenz as an exclusive pinch-hitter the last few years (and he couldn’t even play the outfield) but is this not the height of redundancy? According to that quote, Sweeney will:

1. Pinch hit.
2. Be a reserve at first base.
3. Be a reserve in the outfield (corners only, certainly.)

Which is all well and good, but I know I’m hoping for Nomar to be the guy who fulfils roles #1 and 2, because that means Andy LaRoche has won the third base job. (More on the third base scenarios later in this post). As for outfield reserves, we’ve already got 4 starters for 3 spots, and that’s not even considering Delwyn Young and Jason Repko. Sure, Sweeney’s a lefty and Nomar’s not, but our bench likely includes at least one lefty (whichever of Ethier & Pierre isn’t playing that day) and one switch-hitter, Tony Abreu – two, if Young makes the squad.

Hey, this isn’t really a big enough deal to make a stink about it, obviously Torre wanted a veteran stick off the bench, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially for what will likely be a pretty low salary. Just doesn’t seem like Sweeney adds all that much that we didn’t already have. But make sure someone teaches him how many outs are in an inning, though, can we?

In other news, why can’t the Joe Blanton rumors just die already? Troy Renck of the Denver Post:

Oakland’s asking price for pitcher Joe Blanton is steep. From the Dodgers, the A’s want Andre Ethier, Andy LaRoche and a prospect. Cincinnati also is pushing hard for the right-hander. Don’t rule out the Dodgers making a play for Livan Hernandez, either. . . .

I don’t even know if I could comprehend the idea of Cheeseburger in Dodger blue, so we’re going to skip that and get back to Blanton. To which I say: why? I know, I know, there’s two sides to the Dodger starting rotation coin: the side that says we’ve got 6 guys for 5 spots, without even counting James McDonald, Clayton Kershaw, etc.; and the side that points out all the questions about age, health, and the unknown (i.e., Kuroda).

Personally, I’m on the side that says, the Dodgers have a lot more pitching depth than most teams, and if you want to throw a bit of money at a middling veteran starter for depth, well, fine, but there is absolutely no need to start throwing away highly-rated prospects to do so. Andy LaRoche is a consensus top-20 prospect in all of baseball; whereas Joe Blanton would probably be the Dodgers’ 4th starter. And what then? Nomar as the starting 3B? I can’t imagine Colletti lets that happen. So now we need a third baseman. Does that mean including the deal to get Chavez from the A’s too? If so, what else would have to be thrown in to the deal? Chavez is an All-Star; but he’s also had 3 surgeries this winter alone, has $37 million left on his deal, and, oh yeah – gets a full no-trade clause at the end of 2008. No thanks.

If not Chavez, the only other third baseman thought to be available is Joe Crede of the White Sox, who just missed a huge chunk of 2007 with back surgery. So.. thanks, but no thanks. Even the one benefit of a Crede deal with the Sox – the thought that Chicago is the most likely place to dump Juan Pierre – wouldn’t apply, because if Ethier was dealt to Oakland, then there’s no way that Pierre could be traded as well.

As always, don’t put too much stock into newspaper rumors with no sources behind them, but it seems pretty obvious to me: let’s pass on Joe Blanton.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg