Feb
08

For your consideration: Gary Sheffield

By

If the 2010 season were to start today, the Yankees’ bench would be thin on both power threats and right-handed hitters. Eric Hinske, a lefty, has departed for Atlanta, and the bench will feature some combination of Randy Winn, Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Peña, Jamie Hoffmann and Brett Gardner. If Winn is the most feared bat off the bench, opposing pitchers will yearn to face those pinch hitters.

One player is still out there, though, who could give the Yanks some pop off the bench. As I was browsing MLB Trade Rumors’ unsigned All Star team post this morning, my eye wandered to the honorable mentions where Gary Sheffield’s name stuck out. Other than Johnny Damon, Sheffield is the biggest power threat among those still looking for a job, and I wonder if the Yanks would consider a reunion. It would behoove the team to do so.

For many, just a mention of Gary Sheffield’s name is enough to raise some eyebrows. The notoriously outspoken player left the Yankees in a huff when he was traded for not much of anything following the 2006 season. Although his teammates liked him, he and Joe Torre had a rocky relationship, and Sheffield seemed to think he always deserved more than he got. Yet, he could mash along with the rest of them. During his three seasons on the Yanks, he hit .291/.383/.515 with 76 home runs and 269 RBIs.

Yet, Sheffield put up those numbers nearly half a decade when he was obviously much younger than he is today. The upcoming 2010 season will be his age 41 year, and that lethal bat with that intimidating waggle has slowed down a bit. It hasn’t, however, slowed down as much as one might think. Last year, in part-time duty with the Mets, Sheffield hit .276/.372/.451. His wOBA was a very respectable .359, and he can still get on base and hit for power. Offering Sheffield a $1-$2 million take-it-or-leave-it deal wouldn’t be a waste of money, and landing him for a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite would be even better.

There are, of course, some red flags, and Steve at TYU addressed them a few weeks ago when he advocated for a Gardner/Sheffield outfield platoon. First, the idea that Sheffield should do anything other than pinch hit or DH should be off the table. His defense — never great in the first place — has been abysmal of late. In 46 games in left for the Mets, he had a -11.6 UZR. Second, as Steve noted, Sheffield wanted to be an every-day player last year. Would he embrace a bench role? At age 41, if he wants to stay healthy and keep playing, he has to.

For the 2010 Yankees as they are currently constructed, a dearth of right-handed bench threats remains one of the team’s last spots of weakness. Brian Cashman could do far worse than Sheffield if he’s looking to fill it. Whether both sides could overcome their past differences and work out a deal remains to be seen, but it’s worth a shot.

Above: Gary Sheffield waits to bat during his 2006 rehab assignment in Trenton. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

114 Comments»

  1. Tank the Frank says:

    On paper it’s a great move. No doubt about it. But the first time he opens his mouth in mid-May or June and starts bitching about not playing enough, we’re all going to wish he was somewhere else.

    The Yankees have a really good thing going chemistry-wise, and even I’m not a big believer in that sort of thing or of “clubhouse cancers.” But this is one time where I wouldn’t want to risk it.

    Then again, his problem seemed to be with Torre alone, so who knows how he would fit in this time.

    • Considering what his teammates have said about him, I think the idea that Sheffield is a clubhouse cancer is more of a media construct than anything else. I’m sure he can be a pain in the ass sometimes as anyone can, but if he knows ahead of time that he’s going to be a PH/role player, he’d probably behave himself. It just depends upon whether or not he would embrace that role.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

        I think reporters have trouble getting along with him, therefor the team must also.

      • Chris says:

        My concern would be him coming into the season willing to accept a position as a PH/role player but then gets sick of that part time role by mid season and starts complaining. It would be even worse if whoever the LF is starts to struggle at all. I just don’t see much upside in this move that would justify the headaches.

    • Kiersten says:

      He can bitch all he wants, if he comes off the bench and hits us home runs for $1MM, I don’t really care what he says otherwise.

      I like this idea.

  2. Joe says:

    If he’s really willing to take a bench/part time DH role without being a headache, I don’t see why not. Of course, the cost should be pretty low tho.

    • RKelly39 says:

      I don’t want him specifically because we would NOT want a bench/part-time role. When has he ever been willing to play a supporting role without creating problems?

      • Is that sort of a tautological complaint though? He hasn’t really been at the point in his career where bench roles are his only option until now. He could have made a case for a full-time role over the last two or three seasons.

        • RollingWave says:

          and could have been a solid full time DH last year anyway.

        • RKelly39 says:

          Ben, with all due respect, I don’t think I’m crazy to think this guy is a cancer. I could easily be proved wrong. I don’t know him as a person. But I just don’t see him sitting still and chilling out, watching every three games from the sidelines. He has a track record of wanting to be the center of attention. The media creates the storyline about Shef because Shef seeks them out.

      • Slugger27 says:

        When has he ever been willing to play a supporting role without creating problems?

        why would he ever have been willing in the past? he was a superstar in the past, but in the present he isnt

        i think he probably sees the writing on the wall (like griffey and frank thomas) that he isnt the player he once was, yet he wants to stay in the game

        • RKelly39 says:

          You know what I meant. And Griffey is the kind of player who could really strengthen a team’s bench. Classy veteran. I honestly don’t think you can mention Griffey and Shef in the same sentence.

          • whozat says:

            You can’t mention them in the same breath because Sheff can still hit and Griffey can’t. If you’re looking for a spokesman or something, maybe Griffey’d be better in 2010, but for a bench bat…Sheff is the superior option.

  3. bexarama says:

    I don’t think this is a bad idea, but Chad Curtis basically got himself kicked off the team for saying something bad about Derek Jeter. They’d never let Sheff back after his “not all the way black” comment.

    • cheddar says:

      I strongly suspect that is the case.

    • No, Chad Curtis basically got himself kicked off the team because he was a hyper-religious evangelical proselytizing judgmentalist who was pushing his Jesus books and his moralizing scorn on all the other players in the locker room all the time, and he made comments not only about Jeter but about everyone.

      It’s not that Jeter didn’t like Curtis, it’s that EVERYONE didn’t like Curtis, because he was annoying as shit.

      • bexarama says:

        I did forget about this, so thanks for reminding me. And now that I think about it, it’s not like the Yankees haven’t let people back that were “bad clubhouse guys” before. Ruben Sierra anyone? Though he was fine the second go-around, and I can’t think of any other examples.

        I still don’t see the Yankees inviting him back ever because of what he said about the club being racist. Yeah, I know it was about Torre specifically, not Girardi, but I just don’t think the team wants to deal with him again. Whether or not that’s fair is up for discussion.

  4. Guest says:

    It’s a smart call Ben. The only think I keep thinking about is last year when the Mets signed him, he said something along the lines of, “I don’t need to be a full-time player. I am just here to be a part of the team.” They by mid-season, he forgot all about that and needed to be a full-time player again. So I don’t think you can believe him, and I worry that he would just be a miserable part of the team.

    • Drew says:

      Totally different situation.

      • Snakes on the mother effin plane says:

        Riiiiiight. Cauz, you know, everything’s different now. Like the fact he’s old, broken down, off roids, etc. etc. etc. He SUCKS now. This is an AWFUL idea plain and simple full stop. One of the worst floated in an off-season full of completely preposterous ideas.

        • I realize facts might interfere with your argument, but you should look at Sheffield’s numbers last year. He decidedly doesn’t suck and used in an Eric Hinske-like role, he would be a pretty good fit.

          If he doesn’t produce, then you just DFA him, plain and simple. This isn’t rocket science despite what many people in this thread seem to think.

  5. RollingWave says:

    IF he’s willing , obviously it would be a great idea, it offset the risk of Nick Johnson blowing out his nose while sneezing and the chance that Gardner ends up overmatched and/or Granderson continue to look like a little leaguer against lefties.

    You’d have to hide his glove though that’s for sure. maybe a occasional RF duty when we have a strong pitcher against a weak lineup or something.

  6. Steve H says:

    If the biggest concern is that he starts running his mouth and being a pita, the easy solution is to cut him. With the small amount of money he’d be making, cutting him would not be an issue. If he’d take the role, sign him up.

  7. RollingWave says:

    This signing would in effect feel a lot like a Darryl Strawberry / Tim Raines deal…. of course. this hinges on wether he’s willing. I think there are some incentives though. because right now he’s put up HOF # but probably will get the shaft due to perception and PED issues. so extending his career this way (and hopefully win another ring) could help that out.

  8. Steve H says:

    I’d still rather see Bonds……

  9. ggc says:

    He might be my 3rd favorite Yankee during my lifetime. I read his book- I liked it. Heck, I love Bonds, too. Think of that what you will.

  10. E-ROC says:

    Sounds like a plan. Signing Sheffield does provide insurance in case Johnson gets injured too.

  11. Great Speeches By Hungarians says:

    His defense is comparable to Damon’s, Sheff has a better arm though. If he played a few innings in left it wouldn’t kill them.

    • Slugger27 says:

      while i agree, when would that ever come up?

      their 3 OFs to choose from are gardner, winn, hoffman… they all represent MAJOR (astronomical in gardners case) defensive upgrades from sheffield

      if sheffield were to ever pinch hit for anyone, 1 of those guys could go to the field for him the next inning

    • Bo says:

      Damon can at least run.

      Big difference there.

      Damon also has an allstar bat. Sheff not so much anymore.

      • You are insufferable sometimes. You know that?

        We’re not talking about Sheffield replacing Damon. We’re not talking about which player is better. We’re talking about finding a right-handed power bat who can come off the bench and won’t cost that much. Gary Sheffield fits the bill; Johnny Damon does not. Stop comparing apples to oranges every time you post in this thread.

        As for your argument that Sheffield is finished, that’s just wrong. His numbers last year don’t support that contention at all. Sheff is still better at getting on base than Damon is and is still a guy who can hit for power. Facts, man. They help your argument.

      • Steve H says:

        2009 Sheff .276/.372/.451
        2009 Damon .284/.349/.446 on the road.

        FACT. Outside of Yankee Stadium Gary Sheffield was a better hitter than Johnny Damon last year. FACT.

  12. mryankee says:

    Should the Yankees by now have signed some people to minor league deals with an invit to spring training?

    • Zack says:

      If you’re a player trying to make a ML team, are you going to sign with the Yankees, were there’s probably only 1 bench spot open; or are you going to sign with the Pirates/Reds/Royals/etc where there are more openings?

  13. AJ says:

    Yeah sure. He’ll come play on the bench for three games and all of a sudden: Joe Girardi will become a racist, Curtis Granderson will get knocked out in CF from a collision, he’ll hit about .191 and A-Rod and Jeter will start fighting again after Sheffield tells Jeter he’s not black enough. We could do without. But then again…he did try to punch a BoSox fan at Fenway Park. We can forgive.

    • DP says:

      Curtis Granderson will get knocked out in CF from a collision,

      What would Gary Sheffield have to do with that?

      A-Rod and Jeter will start fighting again after Sheffield tells Jeter he’s not black enough.

      Why would Jeter fight A-Rod if he was insulted by someone completely different?

      …In any event we can just cut him.

      • Curtis Granderson will get knocked out in CF from a collision,

        What would Gary Sheffield have to do with that?

        Gang violence, duh! It’s an epidemic in areas like the South Bronx. C’mon man, don’t you read the papers?

        A-Rod and Jeter will start fighting again after Sheffield tells Jeter he’s not black enough.

        Why would Jeter fight A-Rod if he was insulted by someone completely different?

        Oh, you know he’s all ‘roid raided out on the cream and it’s going to upset Jeter so much, he’ll take it out on Alex because…hmmm…yeah, not sure about where this one is going.

      • Gor says:

        Why would he fight A-rod? Because everything is A-rod’s fault, didn’t you know?

  14. FrankFernandez says:

    Old and grumpy. Fortunately, that’s not where this team is headed.

  15. TarHeelYankee says:

    Lets do it if he is willing to take what we offer…… Sheff made a place in my heart when he told the blowsux “If you go after A-ROD again you will have to deal with me”(I know this is not the exact quote), but you all get the point and know what I’m talking about.

  16. Mike-Nashville says:

    Sheff is not the only power option out there other than Damon – assuming Jermaine Dye is still available as I write. While he’s been on the decline for the past few years, he still managed to put up a .250-.340-.453 line overall last season in 574 PA, with 27 dingers; more importantly, he was .292-.387-.508 against lefties. Dye is also five years younger than Sheffield. Defense is a weakness, but it’s hardly Sheff’s strength anymore either. At the same 1.5-2 mm, say, I’d rather have Dye on my bench.

    • mustang says:

      Totally agree, but I think they would have a better chance of getting Sheff to accept that role. I get the idea that Dye might want more playing time.

      • Yup. And he’ll probably find it somewhere, likely as just a DH. I don’t think an NL team is going to spend $4m+ on a PH, and he could be somewhat valuable on some AL team a bit light on offense like…the Royals (wow, full circle for Dye), the A’s (sensing a theme), the White Sox (getting weirder), the Rays.

      • Mike-Nashville says:

        Latest Dye rumor is Cleveland – if that doesn’t happen, who knows? I imagine he’ll have to temper his expectations.
        Thing is, we’re just talking about adding a power bat because there ain’t anything else going on. I don’t see the Yanks doing anything but a minor league deal or two (or spring invites) from here; they’re all set until an injury or other event creates a need – regardless of what WE think they “need.” ;)

  17. mustang says:

    Wow !!

    I need to cut down on RAB I’m starting to think like Ben. LOL
    Just this morning a friend and me were discussing how Gary Sheffield would be perfect for the power bat of the bench. As long as he ACCEPTS and UNDERSTANDS the role the “cancer stuff” will work it self out. He can take the ” bad boy makes good role” with the media and fans. Reference Ruben Sierra and Darryl Strawberry
    Anyway I think this team has a strong enough character to deal with his personality.

    Good thread totally agree.

  18. vinny-b says:

    Sheffield was my fave player on the Yankees, when he was in NYY.

    that said, i would rather have Rocco Baldelli

  19. Rose says:

    Why not try this with Jonny Gomes instead? He secretly had a pretty good year last year with the Reds and he’s still dangling out there.

    .267/.338/.541 (.879) ain’t bad for a guy who hasn’t been getting much acknowledgement this offseason.

    Sheffield would be pretty cool too…but I think the only way they would do that is if he accepted an invite to Spring Training or a minor league contract for the time being. Which won’t happen.

  20. JRG says:

    its funny to me how if someone in the comment section mentions sheff people hate the idea and think you’re stupid for even saying his name. But if one of the big 3 writes a post about sheff, suddenly its a great idea. lol. Its all good though. joe, ben and mike are the leaders…so most everyone will follow. Its like a cult. and ben, joe and mike = jim jones.

  21. Davidson says:

    Did you not read in the Washington Post, 2007. Article: Cashman says, Yankee will no longer be the sugar daddy, For old Veterans!!
    Yankees are committed to staying young!

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

      a reasonable contract–or as the writer said, a milb deal+ST invite, is hardly being a sugar daddy. and writing one year contracts doesnt impact the age greatly…ESPECIALLY when we’re talking about the 25th (or even 26th!) guy on the roster…

    • Did you not read in the Washington Post, 2007. Article: Cashman says, Yankee will no longer be the sugar daddy, For old Veterans!!
      Yankees are committed to staying young!

      http://www.amazon.com/Eats-Sho.....1592400876

    • ROBTEN says:

      Point One:

      “You always want to get younger, especially when you have an older team,” Cashman said, speaking generally. “I want to be better. You just have to get younger with the right people. When you’re trying to make choices with older players versus younger players, just because someone’s younger doesn’t mean they’re going to be better than the older players you’re looking at. Clearly, you’d like to get younger and better. If we gravitate to that type of situation, clearly we think we’re improving ourselves by doing that.”

      http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/.....plays-coy/

      Point Two [Since Cashman's contract was renewed in 2005]:

      Average age of Yankee pitchers

      2005: 34.2
      2006: 32.5
      2007: 31.4
      2008: 30.6
      2009: 29.3

      Average age of Yankee hitters

      2005: 32.2
      2006: 30.8
      2007: 30.6
      2008: 31.3
      2009: 30.5

      http://nomaas.org/?p=846

      • ROBTEN says:

        My point being, there is no cognitive dissonance in considering Sheffield. Cashman has shown that signing veterans and getting younger are not mutually exclusive. The key is getting younger and better.

  22. I just hope a guy critical to team success (and overall team BMI) like Edwar Ramirez isn’t jettisoned for a player that may actually produce, like Sheffield.

  23. George says:

    Hate to beat a dead horse, but I’d much rather see Damon than Sheff. He’s a good hitter, can still play in the field, and isn’t the problem in the clubhouse. I realize Johnny wants more money – maybe they could structure some kind of incentive deal to make things work.

    We don’t have much power off the bench, but there should be enough in the regular lineup. Use the bench to give some rest to the regulars, and keep the chemistry positive. No Sheff.

    • Steve H says:

      Damon is not going to sign for $1 million and a bench role. Sheff would only be considered under that scenario.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Damon can play the field just as well as Sheffield can

    • DP says:

      Hate to beat a dead horse,

      Always a good thing.

      but I’d much rather see Damon than Sheff.

      Ohh you’re going to anyway. I see.

      He’s a good hitter,

      True.

      can still play in the field,

      Depends how you define “can” and “play.”

      and isn’t the problem in the clubhouse.

      Neither was Cody Ransom.

      I realize Johnny wants more money

      There it is, the point that renders your overall message moot. Thanks for playing.

    • Dead Horse: Hey Brian, I know Damon wants at least $7 million and you only have a few hundred thousand to maybe a million or so to spend, but you think you could offer him like…an incentive-based deal to woo him? Say he gets a one-year deal worth $1 million this year, plus a lifetime’s supply worth of carrots, fresh water and WWE DVDs?

      Brian Cashman: I’m going to fucking beat the shit out of you.

    • Bo says:

      They will regret not resigning Damon.

  24. Bo says:

    This has “not a chance in hell” written all over it.

  25. The Three Amigos says:

    Sheff or Baldelli is fine with me, but the Yanks 100% need a RH bat off the bench for Gardy, Winn or Granderson against a lefty.

  26. zs190 says:

    Why does nobody want Jonny Gomes? He can’t even get a minor league contract from the Reds and they basically said they might consider him as an extra piece but is in no hurry to add him.

    The man had a .274 ISO last year and is a career .230 ISO guy over 1545 ABs. Last year’s number was probably fueled by the ballpark but the guy can hit for a lot of power off the bench. He was horrific in RF but actually ok in LF in small data samples. I think we can agree that he’s probably a very bad defender but he’s 13 years younger than Shef, has less baggage and will be paid less, seems like a way better option.

  27. Joey H. says:

    He’s not getting a starting gig elsewhere so if he complains he’s going to complain his way into a retirement home.

  28. How come the Ynakees never looked at Kevin Mench?I know he signed a couple weeks back but he has a career .900 OPS against lefties. Is 32 years old, wouldnt have cost much, and was a above average defender for most of his career.

  29. Mike S says:

    I dont think it is a good move at all. I think the core four would not be all that receptive to Sheffield one big reason being the comments he made toward Torre. I am unsure Jeter and Posada espiecially would be able to forgive him for that.

  30. Rose says:

    I don’t think this has a chance of happening anymore.

    Yankees just signed Marcus Thames.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....hames.html

  31. Nick says:

    He might be a good guy to DH and Pinch hit. Reminds me of Darryl Strawberry.

  32. Thanks for the link Ben, always much appreciated.

  33. Geek says:

    Shef is not the same player, it could be his age or …….

    There were reports that he was at times difficult and the Yankee Clubhouse last year was by all accounts a real team working together.

    I liked Shef and what he brought to the table but would likely pass on him for 2010

  34. [...] fifth outfielder, as a result – whether it is Jonny Gomes, Rocco Baldelli, Marcus Thames, or possibly Gary Sheffield – will receive a lot more playing time (along with Randy Winn). Therefore, the Yankees are [...]

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