Have you ever been on the receiving end of one of these? "Oh, don’t worry, it will be fine, I just don’t want to feel trapped into something so far ahead of time — but, definitely, I have every intention of marrying you/hiring you/granting you a credit line/sharing an apartment with you." Then, boom. They flake out on you, except that they are not flaking out at all, are they?
Mark Feinsand remembers. "At the beginning of Spring Training, Brian Cashman told Gary Sheffield that he didn’t see any reason why the Yankees would not pick up the outfielder’s $13 million option for 2007."
Know what he says now? This is what he told the Associated Press for Sports Illustrated about how he is going to squeeze back into the lineup once his wrist is healed, never mind the 2007 contract: "’I just think that those type discussions will come when we know he’s ready to go,’ he said. ‘But right now there’s no guarantee. I just don’t know when him and Hideki will be here, and so I think we just lined up some choices, insurance policies, whatever you want to call it.’"
How do you read "go," as in "when we know he’s ready to go"? For readers, he probably meant "ready to go," as in ready to go be a right fielder again. However, I think his word choice is pretty conspicuously ambiguous. It’s almost too conspicuous to be intentional, like a slip of the tongue. I don’t know. What do you think?
I do not know what will happen when Gary Sheffield’s contract expires at the end of this season. I do know that something smelled funny several months ago when the front office got him to quiet down when he started agitating publicly about being stonewalled on obtaining a commitment for one more year with the Yankees. It sounded like the reassurance came from the suits, not Daddy George, and that is what made me uncomfortable. I could have this all wrong, but my sense is that the troublemakers are Mr. Steinbrenner’s initiatives, and when he drops them, they are not long for the show, at least not for ours. When David Wells embarrassed the family with his book and subsequent public comments, and then let his weight get out of hand and strain his back, contributing to our loss in the World Series in 2004, he was offered a couple hundred thousand and a minor league contract, despite a quite successful year. Steinbrenner was done with him. Done, or else he wanted Wells to beg. I hope Steinbrenner is not done with Sheffield. I hope Torre wasn’t the official reassurance this time, because, if so, he’s dropped another tier. Plus, I never got the feeling he was one of Joe’s Boys.
Would you find this reassuring, spoken by Joe Torre?
"I told Sheff that, if this deal is done, it doesn’t say for sure that we’re not going to have him here or pick up his option," the manager said. "That doesn’t mean you’re making him any promises that you are, but it doesn’t mean that, because you get an outfielder, tell him that this is the way it’s going to be."
Oh, man. Sheffield, I really like you. I like you as a Yankee. You give EVERYTHING and you deserve a real shot at a ring.
Mr. Steinbrenner (and Mr. Cashman, if you are within hearing distance), please bring Gary Sheffield back for 2007. We all know he deserves it. We all know we have at least one too many adult outfielders now that we have acquired Abreau. Perhaps Abreu or Damon can be trade bait for a pitcher next year. After all, we have wonderful minor leaguers who have been hitting and fielding well under tremendous pressure, and you recall how magically well we did when our team was made mainly of our fine former farmhands, back in 1996-98, and we have helped new outfielders move along in to their futures before. So, please, consider another year of Sheffield’s salary, which pays for far more than his clutch hitting and his no-doubt fielding (don’t you miss that?) It buys the no-restraint energy that inspires the team and the fans who come to see the guy who is not afraid of anyone and who will do just about anything to win. We like the polite Yankees. But we need our Sheffield too. And, while you’re at it, if you feel like angering Boston, perhaps you could offer David Wells a uniform and a hamburger, no mayonaise.
Thank you. You are the closest thing we have to Santa Claus, you know. We count on you. That’s a lot of pressure. But, you love it, right?! Making us happy, making yourself happy?
With love and respect,
Fan of Aging Troublemakers