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Sweeney v. Ellison: Steel Cage Match

It all goes back to politics. Barry Bonds told someone that Mark Sweeney invited him over, put "Sister Christian" on the hi-fi, and forced two duffel bags of amphetamines in Bonds' car as Chad Santos lit firecrackers off inside the house. There was a whole foofarah about it, Sweeney denied it all, Bonds apologized for even hinting at such a thing, and the team moved on. That was it.

Except that the Giants don't need Mark Sweeney now. He's a lefty who can't play anything but first and left, and the Giants already have the store-brand variety with Ryan Klesko. When a spot start is needed at first, Aurilia is on the bench and Feliz can always slide over to first in a pinch. Bruce Bochy isn't big on letting Dave Roberts start against lefties, so a right-handed center fielder would make all kinds of sense. Maybe Todd Linden could be that center fielder, but he isn't anyone's idea of a defensive whiz at a corner. He could be brutal in center.

Jason Ellison tore up the PCL last season, and he had an amazing spring training last March. He's having another great spring, and it's possible that the only poor offensive stretch he's had in the past year was 85 major league at-bats scattered over 83 games in six months. After his torrid spring in `06, he had six at-bats in April, and 19 in May. It's easy to give him a pass for those limited and scattered at-bats.

Ellison isn't a world-beater. He isn't ever going to be a starter on a good team, and he's probably a fringe bench player on a good bench. But he fits a need for this incarnation of the Giants, and there's that 5% chance that maybe - just maybe - the .400 hitter from Fresno is for real. Ellison is out of options, so he'll likely be with another organization if he doesn't break with the team in April.

So, if Ellison continues his huge spring - and it's obviously still early - the Giants have a decision to make. Trading Sweeney could be a public relations disaster, but he doesn't really have a spot on this team. The Ellison fan club around here could meet in a phone booth, but I can see him putting up .270/.340/.400 for several years at the major league minimum. That's the long-term view, but in the short term he's also a perfect complement for Dave Roberts.

There are probably more than a few teams who could use Sweeney as a pinch-hitting specialist. I just don't see how the Giants are one of them, and I hope the furor has died down enough for him to be traded. The phone booth is open, and I've brought artichoke dip.