A case for Mike Sweeney
No, I wasn’t at PETCO Park on Tuesday to watch veteran Mike Sweeney, the five-time All-Star, going through a workout that essentially amounted to a tryout. But my sources tell me that the 34-year-old Sweeney looked pretty good, both hitting (bat speed is said to be better than it’s been in a couple of years) and taking ground balls and fly balls.
Sweeney, a career .299 hitter, has been ravaged by injuries during each of the past two years which has limited him to only 134 combined games in 2006 and 2007. No, he’s not the player he was a few years ago but I think the guy is worth taking a chance on.
First of all, I still think Sweeney can hit. Even though Adrian Gonzalez plays every day at first base — I mean, he actually played every day in 2007, all 162 games — Sweeney would get occasional at-bats as a pinch-hitter (not always too easy in the American League), at first base, possibly the outfield and as the designated hitter when the Padres travel to Cleveland and and then New York to play the Yankees.
Second, Sweeney is exactly the character and clubhouse guy that the Padres want. Last month, he was the Hutch Award, an honor that’s given each year to the player who "best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire" of Fred Hutchinson.
Obviously, this move would be made to help the team on the field but what I’m saying here is that Sweeney gives you more than that. He certainly won’t make $11 million as he’s made annually in each of the last five years and I’m sure any deal he gets will be loaded with incentives. So if it’s in the budget, I think it’s a no-lose deal for the Padres.
I have to think guys like Scott Hairston and Chase Headley would benefit from having Sweeney around. We’ll see what happens, but I expect some resolution one way or the other Wednesday.
Wednesday update: Still no deal on Greene, maybe we’ll learn more Thursday when Kevin Towers speaks at the Hall of Champions lunch. Also, nothing imminent on Sweeney as the Padres are now considering Tony Clark for essentially the same spot, according to an online report. No room for both, so we’ll see what happens there.