• Remembering Sheffield

    Posted by on September 18th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    From Ken Rosenthal today -

    Melky Cabrera hits with less power than Hideki Matsui, but his range in left field upgrades the Yankees’ defense. Center fielder Johnny Damon must cover more ground when Matsui is in left. The presence of Cabrera elevates Damon’s defense from average to above-average, one Yankees official says.

    Thus, the return of Gary Sheffield would muddle the equation for the Yankees, even if Matsui is cleared to play the outfield coming off his broken left wrist. With Bobby Abreu in right, Sheffield could get at-bats at DH and first base. But the Yankees would suffer defensively if he were in the field.

    A Sheffield-Jason Giambi platoon at first is not without appeal — Giambi is batting only .210 against left-handers. Then again, it’s difficult to imagine the Yankees trusting Sheffield at first, a position he has never played, in the post-season.

    Sheffield, not surprisingly, is pressing the issue — he wants to prove he has recovered from surgery on his left wrist. A strong finish could persuade the Yankees to exercise his $13 million option or increase his value to other clubs as a free agent.

    This got me thinking. What if Sheffield shows, over the last week of the season that he can play a decent 1B and can still swing the bat?

    Sure, then you keep him on the post-season roster. But, what if he does get to play in some of the series and is a post-season hero for the Yankees?

    Yes, that would make for some interesting debate on how to handle his contract situation – for sure. But, regardless, how would that impact his “Yankees legacy?” We know that Sheffield was a force for the Yankees in 2004 and 2005. What if he delivers a ring in 2006 by coming off his “Yankees-career-death-bed” and gets some huge hits in this post-season? What if he only has one AB in a series but it’s a “1988 Kirk Gibson” moment?

    If Sheffield can help the Yankees in this post-season, in a big way, I think that will earn him a place in the hearts of Yankees fans for a long time.

    Then again, on the flip-side, if he hurts the Yankees in any way this post-season, 2004 and 2005 will be forgotten in a heartbeat.

    There’s a lot riding on this post-season for Sheffield, again, in terms of how he will be remembered in New York.

    Comments on Remembering Sheffield

    1. September 18th, 2006 | 11:34 am

      Sheffield’s return makes me nervous (and Matsui’s as well), about the potential for the “Chili Davis” effect.

      What’s that?

      The 1998 Yanks started 0-2, with Chili, who subsequently got hurt and missed from April 3 until Aug. 17.

      On Aug. 16, the Yanks were 90-30 (think about that for a second). When Chili came back, Torre was forced to mess with the mix to get him some ABs.

      In the 42 games that followed, Davis played in 33 of them posting a .293/.360/.455, which is all fine and good. However, after playing .750 baseball for 120 games – the Yanks “limped” to a 24-18 record (.571 W%) the rest of the way, which was helped by seven-game winning streak at the end vs. the drecks of the league.

      I’m not saying Chili caused it (my father blames him directly however), I’m just saying sometimes its best not to create a roster problem if things are going well.

    2. hopbitters
      September 18th, 2006 | 11:50 am

      Don’t know about Sheff, but I’m done. The comments for the most part have taken a turn that I’m not interested in and it’s no longer worth sifting through them. I’ll still be reading Steve’s posts, but the next voice you hear will be your own.

    3. baileywalk
      September 18th, 2006 | 2:07 pm

      Don’t let the door hit you, hop…

      Just kidding. Why do people feel the need to make grand exits on message boards and blogs? I remember when the Yankees struggled last year, there were a lot of “That’s it! I’m out of here! I can’t take this team anymore.” There’s a lot of ego in thinking anyone will miss you. (Since I am free of ego, I know that if I stopped posting on the Internet no one would notice.)

    4. rbj
      September 18th, 2006 | 2:28 pm

      I don’t think there’s any room for Shef on the Yankees next year. Plus, that $13 million could go towards pitching.

      I’ll remember him well, hope he gets his ring this year.

    5. baileywalk
      September 18th, 2006 | 2:43 pm

      A thirteen-million-dollar first baseman-slash-DH, when you already have one who’s getting twenty million, might be a profligacy even the Yankees can’t touch. I’m not even sure I want Sheff to come back now. I’m probably just being paranoid, but the team already felt a little different in this Boston series (though it probably had more to do with Torre’s moves).

      Sheffield takes a long time to get his swing back, and he’s not even going to be able to do a rehab start. And while everyone says “he can’t be a worse first baseman that Giambi” — trust me, he can. If Sheff makes the post-season roster and Torre plays him at first, I will — to quote Homer Simpson — vomit in terror.

    6. Jason O.
      September 18th, 2006 | 3:41 pm

      A motivated Gary Sheffield (for $13m option or trade market reasons) is one of the 5 all-time scariest things a pitcher can see in the playoffs…

    7. MJ
      September 18th, 2006 | 3:53 pm

      I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but a motivated Sheffield would’ve not spent the months of July and August telling anyone that would listen that he wasn’t going to push it and that he’d come back whenever he felt like it. Not that I cared, mind you. I’ve enjoyed watching the Yanks more without Sheffield.

    8. September 18th, 2006 | 3:55 pm

      Not sure that I’ve ever seen a comments section without disagreement… happy searching hopbitters. I personally love that there are other Yank fans here who don’t necessarily have the same opinion as me and are willing to honestly discuss their ideas. Freedom to peaceably express one’s thoughts is truly a valuable commodity these days and in this world… Thurman for the HoF

    9. James Terry
      September 18th, 2006 | 4:09 pm

      I hope we don’t see Sheffield with a glove – remember his running into Bubba last year in the playoffs? (Ok, maybe Bubba ran into him, but still – a real outfielder out there and Bubba wouldn’t have had to kill himself to get over.)

    10. #15
      September 19th, 2006 | 6:42 am

      Sheff came up as a third baseman- SS and played the position at the ML level for ~ 9 years. It was a long time ago, but if he had time to work at it (which he doesn’t in time for the playoffs unless he starts right now) he’d be on par with Giambi on the glove side of the equation, and an improvemnent on the throwing side. As stated a few weeks ago, Matsui, Damon, and Bobby A. across the outfield arc, with Melky as the # 4 outfielder (I really wish Joe would play him in center when Damon sits – Melky needs to be the back-up there, this year and next). Bernie simply, sadly, just can’t do the job. We’d be better off with Guiel or Cairo out there at this point. A Giambi-Sheff platoon at first/DH would be very productive and minimize the wear and tear and two aging, but still lethal bats. Give Giambi some props for diving for that bunt last night. He didn’t make the play, but he showed a lot of effort. Aaron Guiel made the playoff roster last night.

    11. #15
      September 19th, 2006 | 6:51 am

      Just to clarify…Melky should play LF for the rest of this year and in the playoffs. The outfield line up I suggest is for next season.

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