Is Sheffield Getting the Shove?

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,

Sharon Pearce

Fan of Aging Troublemakers

6 comments

  1. fkay@nycboe.net

    I love Sheffield, as well. I was one of the many who shouted, “MVP” when he came up to bat two years ago. I would like to keep him.

    However, I don’t think we can trade Damon under any circumstances, though I don’t know about Abreu. What is more important to me is that we start to RAISE A TEAM. This recipe of buying folks in their prime is not only not working, but I think it is counter-productive for all concerned. The players come here facing huge pressure. In the world of baseball, few people are equally excellent every year, NY pressure or not. So, we buy people who are excellent one year and then expect, against highly unlikely baseball odds that they will be equal or better the following year. Look at Derek Jeter: Did we expect him to be hitting in the 350’s this year? Did we expect him NOT to be last year? The baseball gods require a lot of sacrifice and trust, almost akin to that figure in the Old Testament who sent the Israelites into the desert to wait for the ten commandments after parting the Red Sea, etc. You can’t get miracles every day or even every year, at least not from the same player.

    What you can sometimes get from a player like Jeter or Damon is intense play all the time. You can get that from Sheffield, too, which is reason enough to keep him.

    I don’t know what Abreu will bring, but I do know that some of our younger folks have shown this year that they can ALSO bring consistent energy and intensity. For my money, and also to be more in-line with the religion of baseball, I’d rather platoon Guiel and Crosby next year. They both field well and Guiel looks like he has a good bat. More important, they are both exciting young talent. We ought to be looking at what’s happening with our cousin in Queens for a good example. Reyes and Wright were not always as exciting as they are now, but they both were always intense and showed tremendous potential. No one would have disaproved had the Mets gotten a top third baseman years ago, except that it would have squelched David Wright. In retrospect, that would’ve been a sin against baseball.

    No one can know for sure what Guiel or Crosby will grow up to become. However, we can be fairly certain of what teams of sometimes ill matched stars in their prime have brought us already. No World Series rings since 2000 and, season after season in parts of the 1980’s with flashy players and overall inconsistent teams.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Sheffield. While he has been healing, Guiel and Crosby and yes, Bernie, have been filling in well. We didn’t need another veteran to the mix. What does it say to our younger players when, after the prove themselves, we bench them or use them as trade bait? Of the two choices, I’d certainly rather keep them on the bench than ever lose them.

    I seem to recall trading a promsing outfield a few years ago who is now a Yankee killer. Of course, I mean Juan Rivera. I’d like not to be flinching when Aaron Guiel comes up to bat because he, like Rivera, has been traded and now gone on to be another Yankee killer.

    So, I’d be willing to say goodbye and thank you to Sheff, and more so, goodbye and thank you to Abreu EVEN if he is our next MVP. After all, Sheffield was our MVP first and there is no guarantee that Abreu will not find himself on the DL the following year. We owe more to Sheffield and to Guiel and Crosby.

    If I can’t convince you with you, perhaps I can with age. Who would’ve thought Bernie Williams would still be such a major part of Yankee wins? I’d rather give Sheffield the chance to be the same kind of contributor and platoon him with youth than give it to Abreu.

    Ultimately, if we don’t look at ourselves as raising a team, then we will always be going out there with different collections of foster kids. And, I can’t think of any better comparison to the way our team has played than to that of a group of promising, but trouble foster kids, as yet, not a collective — not a team.

  2. amber__11@hotmail.com

    I agree with you FKay, we should be raising a team. However, we have Abreu for the remainder of this season and next. I dont think that’s to bad of a deal. We are not locked down with him for several years. While he’s in right Melky can continue to grow. He’s only 21 so he has time to develop. Cano is not going anywhere… ever:) Wang either. Then we have some peeps in the minors who should be coming up in a few. So I think in the next few years your going to see a younger team. But honestly… I would rather keep Jorge, Mo, Jeter, and Bernie out there for the rest of their lives. I grew up watching them, and I cant bare to watch them leave someday. It make me sad:(

    Sharon, your post made me laugh. Old George is like Santa. He always brings us the best players (no matter the cost).

  3. John

    I love Shef as a player. Love to watch him bat, love his confidence, and that AMAZING bat speed. I hate Shef’s attitude though. You should not have to put down your fellow teammates to make yourself look better. There were times last year where his comments were just horrible. The incident with Bubba????? C’mon. I dont honestly want to see him go 100%, but it would not really kill me either. DH him? Then what of; Giambi, Philips, Bernie? you don’t pull Giambis bat out of the lineup at any cost, but we could live without his glove at first. What about Bernies bat against lefties, or in the clutch. He’d be a NICE pinch hitter to have for late innings, but a DH role for Bernie would work OK too. We have a bit of a log jam here. I DO think letting Shef JUST DH would give us the best hitting we have EVER seen from him. He always did well when Joe gave him a break from defense. I am anxious to see how it all fans out this season, but I don’t see Shef being here next year.

    Spags http://theyanks.mlblogs.com

  4. fkay@nycboe.net

    I know Sheff can be gruff, but I didn’t know about the Bubba comment. You didn’t mention MELKY in your list of young folks who will stay…Don’t want to lose Melky. Can’t think of too many wins in which he didn’t figure.
    I don’t like optioning Guiel to Columbus. At least he’s still in the system.

    I don’t know. Like you, I’ve gotten used to certain players. It becomes harder and harder to stay a fan of a team when it keeps getting pulled apart.

    I don’t think Cashman knows how to raise a team. What do you think?

  5. Sharon

    MVP, me too! For now, DH-ing sounds fine with me as long as it’s OK with Sheffy. It might give him a face saving way to take a pay-cut for 2007 in case there’s any chance the Yanks will offer it to him. Regarding his attitude, I heard a lot about it before he got here and not much afterward, and I never heard anything about what happened with Bubba — what DID happen? I just added a quote from Cashman that I came across. Any thoughts?

  6. fkay@nycboe.net

    From the sound of Cashman, I think he’s definitely no longer considering Sheff or Hideki necessarily part of the Yankee future…I think, realistically though, he just threw in Hideki’s name to get the scent off of Sheff. My bet is they don’t re-sign Sheff if Abreu is good with us.

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