Friday, April 3, 2009

Sheffield A No-Lose Proposition For The Mets

*Note: My website is down, so I'm posting here until it's back up. Maybe the same fucking morons who decided to change the MLBlogs platform last year on opening weekend are trying to screw up other avenues like now as well.

There are several reports that the New York Mets are close to signing free agent outfielder Gary Sheffield and I think it's a great, no-risk move for them to bring in a veteran bat and see if he has anything left for no money.

Sheffield could genuinely be finished, but the Mets aren't taking a major risk if they sign him and take a look for a couple of months to see if they can get some production out of him and provide some right-handed pop along with the drama of a guy hitting his 500th homer. If Sheffield can recapture even 70% of what he once was, he's still a big step up from Ryan Church or Fernando Tatis.

The idea of this signing reminds me of when the Mets signed Orel Hershiser during spring training in 1999. There was talk that the signing, along with another former star veteran, Rickey Henderson, was another example of the Mets grasping at straws and trying to dig into the past to find a fading veteran and thinking that he was going to contribute to a championship team as a final piece; but it turned out that both Hershiser and Henderson did have a great deal left to add to that veteran club.

Some may scoff at equating Sheffield with Hershiser. Hershiser had a reputation of being the equivalent of an extra coach on the pitching staff; he was well-liked by the other players and the media along with the staff. Sheffield carries baggage from so many well-publicized disagreements with various front offices and managers along with outrageous behaviors and comments at which even the most paranoid conspiracy theorists would roll their eyes; but one thing about Sheffield is that you won't hear any of his former teammates say a negative word about him on the field or in the clubhouse.

Sheffield plays hard; he helps his teammates; he plays through injuries and has been known as one of the hardest workers in baseball. Add in that he's got a winning pedigree and an edge that the Mets lack. If someone tries to take the liberties as Hanley Ramirez did when he walked by the Mets dugout on the last weekend of the 2008 season and told them, en masse, that they were going home and not to the playoffs, you can bet that Gary Sheffield would leap the dugout steps and be right in Ramirez's face.

The only issue is whether Sheffield is going to be healthy and whether he can still play; but the risk is minimal because he's not going to cost any money and he'll be on his best behavior to try and impress either the Mets or another interested team for next year. It's a worthwhile gamble.

Please purchase my book Paul Lebowitz's 2009 Baseball Guide available at numerous websites.

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