Dec
19

Open Thread: Gary Sheffield

By

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years already, but on this date in 2003, the Yankees signed Gary Sheffield to a three-year contract worth $36M. In typical spoiled Yankees fan fashion, we all complained because we wanted Vlad Guerrero instead. George Steinbrenner overruled his baseball people and signed Sheff, who was certainly incredibly productive. It’s just that Vlad was more productive and seven years younger.

I wrote an ode to the Sheffield Era when he announced his retirement earlier this year, and rather than focus on him again, I’m going to muse about what might have been. Let’s say the Yankees had signed Vlad instead of Sheff, what impact does it have? Considering that he would have required literally double Sheffield’s contract, there’s a pretty good chance they wouldn’t have signed both Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano after the 2004 season. Vlad was crazy durable, so if he would have stayed healthy when Sheff got hurt in 2006, it’s possible Melky Cabrera would have never gotten an extended look and Bobby Abreu would have never worn pinstripes. Maybe they don’t sign Johnny Damon.

The later years of the deal would have been interesting as well. Vlad was more DH than outfielder by 2007, maybe 2008 if you’re feeling generous, and that would have created a logjam between him, Matsui, and Jason Giambi. If they were hellbent on using him in the outfield, perhaps they don’t trade for Nick Swisher. Or maybe they do, and he’s the first baseman instead of Mark Teixeira, who they never sign. With no Tex around, perhaps they end up signing Matt Holliday once Guerrero’s deal expires after 2009. Do they win the 2009 World Series? Do they win the 2004-2008 World Series? We could play the what if game all night, but The Boss’ decision to go with Sheff over Vlad has had a major impact on the team for eight years now. It wasn’t necessarily for the worse either.

* * *

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Steelers and 49ers are your Monday Night Football game (8:30pm ET on ESPN), but none of the hockey local’s are in action. Talk about anything your heart desires here, it’s all fair game.

Categories : Open Thread

122 Comments»

  1. Alfredo says:

    I liked Sheff but would have preffered Vlad!

    • Mark Ixisa says:

      Let’s go down the list:

      Pavano – Horrid waste
      Wright – Batting practice fodder
      Melky – Yeah, they don’t trade him and Viz for Jome Run Javy
      Abreu – One good half season for way too much dough
      Teixeira – Overpriced and past prime

      The only positive in the bunch is Swisher and the Yanks got lucky Williams is a moron.

      Vlad was the better signing. But damn, at least the Boss cared about winning more than profits.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Almost to his own detriment…

        • Behind Enemy Lines says:

          True but by the end he knew the players to go after. and money would have never come between upgrading the team. I miss the crazy bastard.

      • Craig Maduro says:

        People are going to be eating a lot of crow when Teixeira comes back strong in 2012.

        • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

          From the name of the commenter alone, you’re actually going to take him seriously?

        • Behind Enemy Lines says:

          Hes posted a 850 OPS two years running. Besides faith, aura, and mystique, what makes you think he got more than this good not great in him?

          • Craig Maduro says:

            Well, he’ll play most of next season as a 32 year old so he’s still in his prime. The thing that encourages me the most is that he recognized what the issue has been and is ready to address it. I think that might have been the hardest part of the problem. A lot of pros are a bit stubborn and stuck in their ways. With the issue recognized I have confidence that Teix will be able to successfully address it.

            • Behind enemy lines says:

              32 is past prime and two years of the same performance shows recognition means little to nothing in terms of actual performance. Basically all you have is confidence.

              • Craig Maduro says:

                No, 32 is the end of the prime. Have you read anything about Teixeira this season? He admitted to falling under the temptation of the short porch (I believe the specific word he used to describe it was “appetizing”) and is going to work with Kevin Long to smooth things out.

  2. Plank says:

    My favorite Yankee of that era and one of my favorite players ever.

  3. gargoyle says:

    Shef finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2004, 8th in 2005 and there’s no reason to believe he would have not had another very good year in 2006 had he not gotten hurt. How many better FA signings have the Yankees ever made?

    • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

      Exactly. There was a “moment” when the 3-4 punch of Sheff and A-Rod always made me feel like a big inning was going to happen every time they came up. I also liked the way Sherr stuck up for A-Rod when someone (cough Jetsr cough) didn’t.

  4. Tyrone Sharpton says:

    Let us say a prayer for the deceased King Cum Ill.

    Thank you, Jesus.

    Amen.

  5. Plank says:

    The narrative for years before that off-season was that Vlad didn’t want to play for a big market team. He was this guy up in Montreal (a team that didn’t even have an English language broadcast) and most people took it as a given that he would not sign in NY.

    I would have rather had Vlad, too, but Sheffield is a hell of a consolation prize.

    • Plank says:

      I should add that was clearly a false narrative as he signed in Los Angeles, which emerged as a mystery team at the last minute. Funny how history repeats itself.

  6. Gonzo says:

    Last minute Darvish posting guesses?

    Amount/Team

  7. Grit for Brains says:

    What are people feelin about this Knicks team? Maybe it’s because I was a fan back when he was really good but after the Baron Davis pickup I’m like really excited about this team.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      They are building something good….still don’t think Dantoni is the right coach for the team.

    • mustang says:

      Love all the moves.

      If anyone would of told me that Knicks were going to have a better winter (to this point) then the Yankees I would laugh in their face.

      Very excited about the team.

    • Craig Maduro says:

      The Knicks are dumb as shit. They HAD something good going before they traded everybody away for overrated Carmelo Anthony. WTF were they thinking? They get Carmelo but they wouldn’t have a PG. Of course we all know Chauncey got hurt like he ALWAYS does. I put up with the foolishness of it when CP3 was in the cross-hairs, but now what? They still have no PG – the most important position in a D’Antoni offense – and the team is just a bad mix of system and personnel.

      And Tyson Chandler? Everyone is excited about him because the Knicks spent a bunch of money. I’m not buying the hype though.

  8. Rich in NJ says:

    Jack Curry seems to think that parroting the company line passes for insight, e.g., his defense of the Yankees’ intention to keep Joba in the pen.

  9. Rainbow Connection says:

    Abreu wants to be traded? If he leaves, the Angels will win a WS within a few years.
    It happened with the Phillies and Yankees.
    We should pick him up, only to dump him and guarantee a WS win within a few years.

  10. MOBoy says:

    Good thing Gary Sheffield won’t make the Hall of fame.He was a racist toward Latin players and had the balls to call Joe Torre racists for how Torre treated black players.

    Good he’s retired.He spread to much of that cream on himself.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Dammit! I was 5 minutes too late to make a ‘racist’ comment about Sheffield.

      Didn’t like his attitude tbh… He was one of my least favorite Yankees… Personally….

      Professionally, however, dude carried a major boom stick…

      (TWSS)

      • Jamey says:

        I’ll remember him much like I’ll remember Brandon Jacobs & Osi’s time with The Giants, valuable guys on the field but the “perennial malcontent” crap sure gets old fast.

  11. Jamey says:

    If they signed Vlad, probably no trade for A-Rod either right? Could you imagine the crying that would have gone on had The Yankees acquired the two best all around players in MLB at the time? Probably would have been teams trying to secede from MLB.

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      Yeah, the poor Yankees are such victims.

    • JAG says:

      In all seriousness, I can’t imagine one having anything to do with the other. Sure, the money makes it harder, but Vlad wouldn’t have made that much more annually than Sheffield, and he also wouldn’t have been able to do much about Boone destroying himself playing basketball and opening a hole at 3B. Man, that team would have been fun to watch.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Yeah, got to remember that A Rod was the next in a long line of gifts from the Red Sox, staring with some guy named Herman, and Damon, and Tex, and Mark Bellhorn & Mike Myers…. Oh wait…

      • Jamey says:

        I think if Vlad signed with The Yankees, The Red Sox don’t haggle over restructuring A-Rod’s deal, even if they did though there would have been clamoring from all across MLB for Selig to enact some “best interest of baseball” thing to veto the trade. I’m not joking either, I think if the solution to Boone’s hoops injury was trading for (at the time) the biggest superstar in MLB & reigning MVP and having him switch to 3B would have started a hurricane of hissy fits from small market owners.

  12. I always find it nuts that Sheff had more walks than strikeouts in his career, given how violent his swing was. In seasons where he had at least 500 PA, he struck out more than he walked just one time. Insane bat control and an amazing eye. Great, great hitter.

  13. Nathan says:

    The first memory of Sheff that I can recall was when they beat the Indians in the WS and I can remember thinking “that bat wiggle is awesome”. I was psyched when the Yankees signed him and he was a huge middle of the order bat and that violent swing!

    It’s too bad the way that the relationship ended and the words afterwards but I’ll always remember the short time he spent with the Yankees. I remember seeing him at a Golden State Warriors game when he was still friends with Barry Bonds and he was a few rows away from where I was sitting. Everyone was asking Bonds for autographs (which he signed, he was pretty approachable, which surprised me) and NOBODY was asking Sheff. I walked by during a break and shook their hands and told Sheff that he was one of my favs and he smiled pretty wide. Either he was happy someone acknowledged him or maybe Barry was giving him some grief!

  14. Jimmy says:

    Backstabbing weasel who could hit well.

  15. Rey22 says:

    Hands down the most awesome swing in baseball. Whenever he swung you could just tell that ball would fly a long way.

  16. James d. says:

    I loved Gary Sheffield. Phenomenal to watch on TV, even better on TV, and gave the Yankees two monster years. Thing is, as good as those two years were, he was clearly on the decline, however slowly, from his best NL years. THAT’S how good a player he was.
    Also, I got to see him play left field for the Mets in 2009. Old, old man, but still the only Met at Citi Field whose at-bats you couldn’t miss.
    Obviously, he had his issues, but I think there were definite insecurities (as Mike alluded to in his previous Sheff piece), not having an agent (and thus having contract issues actually be paramount) and an inability to overcome youthful mistakes, either by moving on or being allowed to move on by management or media.
    Remember, this guy is related to Doc Gooden, and yet I think in some quarters, Sheffield is considered the worse person (and baseball-etiquette person).
    Anyways, just like I won’t remember Pettitte for his family or his faith, but for his pitching, I’m going to remember Sheff for being an absolute badass of hitting and on-field ferocity.

    • Nathan says:

      Exactly. I think our society is so eager to get behind the scenes and dig up dirt on everyone, especially the famous and athletes. For me, I don’t care what the famous or athletes do in their personal lives or after the game stops, I just care about what they do in regards to their job.

      In that regard, Sheffield was a terrific hitter, even in his later years as you mentioned. In his younger years, he was a beast. Decent with the glove but he had a pretty good arm.

  17. Plank says:

    I turned on the football game and quickly discovered that the delay was more interesting than the game would have been. (The delay wasn’t interesting.)

  18. mustang says:

    “The Nationals are pushing hard for Gio Gonzalez, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The A’s and Nationals are discussing a possible four-for-one deal involving the left-hander.”

    Any ideas on who? and please give the Yankees comparables

    • bonestock94 says:

      What a stupid move, Mike Rizzo is pushing hard to be the next painfully moronic GM.

    • mbonzo says:

      Not quite sure, the Nats don’t have the best high-end prospects available. Nothing comparable to the Yankees top 3.

      Maybe Clippard, Brad Peacock, AJ Cole, +another prospects

      That’d be like Robertson, Betances, Romine, +

      Thats nothing compared to what the A’s asked for.

      • mustang says:

        thank you

        • mbonzo says:

          Don’t get me wrong, the Nats have some good young players, but clearly Harper or Strasburg won’t get traded for Gio. Rendon can’t get traded till next year. A guy like Peacock is their Betances, but I would take Betances over him any day.

          The Yankees could beat anything the Nats put together without trading Montero or Banuelos.

          • mustang says:

            No really thanks. I was just trying to see if the Yankees could match the Nats, but from what you just said its probably just another stupid rumor.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      Why the hell don’t the Nats just keep their four players and sign EJax? They have the money, right?

  19. Avi says:

    Would you trade Eduardo Nunez and DJ Mitchell for Mark Melancon?

  20. Austinmac says:

    If the left field foul pole could have been moved forty feet to the left Sheffield would have hit 50-60 per year. Come on Gary, straighten them out.

  21. RetroRob says:

    So, for whatever it’s worth, TMZ is reporting Ryan Braun’s failed steroid test was the result of taking prescription medicine for a private medical condition.

    • mbonzo says:

      Yea, herpes apparently. I wouldn’t believe it until he actually says something.

      • RetroRob says:

        I hadn’t heard the herpes part (and I’m assuming you’re being serious on the actual medical issue), but just throwing it out here into the open thread.

        Regardless, I don’t think he’d be able to avoid serving his 50 games since it is the responsibility of the player to know what’s in whatever medication he’s taking. If the pieces fit, he at least might be able to claim some moral victory that he did not cheat on baseball.

        Media: Ryan Braun, did you cheat?

        Braun: I did not cheat in baseball, but I did cheat on my girlfriend!

        • Gonzo says:

          Yeah, I really doubt that a topical steroid gel that is used for herpes has the strength to get your testerone levels to the levels they talked about.

          Those creams are supposed to be low strength.

          • Mister Delaware says:

            “Supposed to be”, right Gonzo? Wink, wink.

            • Gonzo says:

              It’s funny because I’ve had my share of scares in my life. Ever have a cotton swab inserted into your…

              • Plank says:

                It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, especially if you have a small member so there’s the uncomfortable feeling mixed with humiliation. Good times…

                • Gonzo says:

                  It’s gotta be done by a female doctor for maximum effect.

                  FWIW, if Braun is sticking with this defense, I am going to believe he is using “real” steroid gels and creams that are cutting edge. Those can leave your system in a day sometimes less. People use them overnight to recover.

          • Plank says:

            Maybe he sleeps with large, rugged women and needed a stronger dose.

    • JohnnyC says:

      STD, eh? Well, at least Manny’s tests failed because he wanted to get pregnant. He’s a family man. Can’t blame him for that.

  22. CJ says:

    Think the Freddy Garcia signing hurt the trade value of noesi, betances, phelps and Warren? If any if them were offered to a gm in a trade but at the same time saying they are not as good as Garcia. They are not exactly young prospects, the combination should be ready to fill the 5-6 spots in a rotation.

  23. Monteroisdinero says:

    Sheff had a violent, quick and powerful bat. Pretty much no power to rf. A similar bat with more opposite field power will soon be on display for us.

  24. Carl says:

    Twitter is going apeshit. Are Blue Jays fans that anxious of the Yu Darvish announcement or what?

  25. Carl says:

    Scratch that. That Selig account probably isn’t real.

  26. NHYankeesFan says:

    When the hell are they going to announce who got Darvish? I figure Toronto won the bid, but I still want to hear it for myself

  27. 28 this year says:

    Well I hope the Rangers pour a hell of a lot of money into this.

  28. Avi says:

    Darvish to Texas. This is a good night in Yankees history. I said the same thing last year when the Red Sox signed Crawford and I feel just as confident saying it tonight.

  29. Gonzo says:

    Someone has to provide a fake dialogue between Nolan and Yu. Comedy gold.

  30. Pat D says:

    So according to the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the Yankees only won 27 championships by making trades, not with their farm system.

    I guess Red Sox fans wrote it.

  31. Avi says:

    Will Darvish help Nelson Cruz catch fly balls in right?

  32. Pete C. says:

    Sheffield was a cancer in the clubhouse.
    I don’t see how you can be such an apologist. He had a career year with Atlanta before NY signed him. I’ve seen Vlad play and he’s as brain dead as any ballplayer who put on sanitary socks. Still a better player and teammate than Gary”everybody sucks except me” Sheffield. Oh yeah, remember all those nice things he said about Derek Jeter?
    For you to rationalize this signing by saying we never would have gotten a look at Melky, or he would have gotten in the way of the Yanks designated out Jason Giambi, is ridiculous.
    Hey remember when he was in right that first season and he couldn’t raise his glove over his shoulder, because he needed an operation.
    I don’t know about you but most folks would call that “damaged goods”. And maybe have something to say about it after the contract was signed, like when did it happen, was it cumulative or did he injure it in Atlanta and kept it to himself? But I guess up there in rab’s rarefied atmosphere those things don’t matter.

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