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"I don't think it's necessary to bring that up," said Ron Cey, testily, in response to the predictable question about the infield's future. "Give us credit. This is one of the most successful infields of all time."
For First Baseman Garvey, a .417 hitter in this Series, the win represented "the end of a very sentimental journey. Our infield that has played together so long may not be together much longer. What better way to finish than with a world championship."
In the clubhouse after the last game, the victors seemed at first subdued, almost contemplative, as if it would take time to place their achievement in perspective. "I'm not feeling it yet," said Leftfielder Dusty Baker. "But tomorrow I'll be home and I'll say, 'Heck, we're world champs.' "
The clubhouse quiet was soon broken, however, when pitchers Jerry Reuss, Terry Forster and Tom Niedenfuer and Catcher Mike Scioscia started a food fight. With a splash of mayonnaise here, a dab of ketchup there and a splotch of mustard over there, Reuss gradually took on the appearance of an abstract painting, or as Johnstone said, "You look like Bill Russell after nine innings of trying to field those grounders." The melee inevitably gravitated into the manager's office, where Tom Lasorda, praising his players to the press for their "guts," was speedily delicatessed. "I thought I'd apologized for my sins," said Lasorda, a clown turned genius, "but I guess the Lord is paying me back. He gave me Johnstone and Reuss."
The laughter had scarcely died when speculation on the future of the team began. In Paradise Valley, Ariz. last week, where Dodger president Peter O'Malley and vice-president Al Campanis were attending a general managers' meeting, it was rumored that Guerrero, co-winner with Cey and Catcher Steve Yeager of the Series MVP award, was about to be traded to San Diego for Shortstop Ozzie Smith. Guerrero, who is only 25 and can play either third or the outfield, was one player whose future in Los Angeles seemed secure, but Smith is probably the best-fielding shortstop in baseball, and it takes quality to get quality. If Smith comes and Guerrero goes, Russell must also go. He has an uncertain throwing arm and hit .233 during the season, .240 in the Series. He also has a recent history of injuries, which now include a bad index finger on his right hand and a stress fracture in his left foot, both of which will probably require surgery in the offseason. Smith is more than six years younger than Russell, and though he's a light hitter, he's a threat on the bases, something the Dodgers sorely need now that Lopes has slowed down.
The threat to the 35-year-old Lopes isn't from the outside but from within. Steve Sax, 21, hit .277 in 31 regular-season games as the oft-injured Lopes's replacement. Lopes hit .206 in 58 games. Sax, a fiery, hustling player, could conceivably replace him as the Dodgers' offensive catalyst. Defensively, he should be an improvement. Campanis is especially high on him, remarking whenever he sees Sax, "Now, that's a good second baseman." Lopes can still run the bases—he was 4 for 4 in steals against New York—but he doesn't get things started as a leadoff man often enough anymore and, like Russell, he has been getting hurt too frequently.
Garvey's contract doesn't run out until after next season, but he has been pressing the Dodgers to get cracking on a new one. His price is expected to be in the $1.5 to $2 million-a-season range, which gives O'Malley pause. Garvey is to the Dodgers what Gehrig once was to the Yankees, their Pride, and he's enormously popular with Los Angeles fans, if not always with his teammates, who have been known to be jealous of his following. Still, he is costly, and there's another youngster, Mike Marshall, wailing in the wings. Marshall is 21, 6'5" and 215 pounds. He has never hit less than .300 in four minor league seasons, and this year he became the first player in 25 years to win the Pacific Coast League Triple Crown. His PCL stats were staggering—a .373 batting average, 34 homers, 137 RBIs. Garvey may still be the present, but the future isn't that far off.
Fortunately, Marshall can also play in the outfield, where the Dodgers are especially rich in young talent. Among those ready to step forward are Candido (Candy) Maldonado, 21, who hit .335 with 21 homers and 104 RBIs in Albuquerque; Ron Roenicke, 25, who hit .316 in the PCL and impressed the Dodgers with his defensive skills in a brief stint with the big club; and Bobby Mitchell, 26, a deft centerfielder and .300 hitter in the minors. Earlier this season, the Dodger outfield seemed set for years, with Baker in left, Guerrero in right and Ken Landreaux in center. But Landreaux had a dreadful "second season" and finished at only .251, and Guerrero is suddenly trade bait. Only Baker, 32, whose contract runs through 1985, now seems safe.
Series hero Yeager—.286 with two homers and four RBIs against the Yankees—scarcely played in the regular season and has asked to be traded. At 32, he will more than likely be obliged.
And speculation like this continues through seemingly countless permutations: If Guerrero stays, he could move to third to make room for one of the young outfielders and Cey could go. The pitching is solid, but here, too, there are enough youngsters to make life uncertain for their seniors. The Dodgers could well be planning to break themselves up.