Here’s a move I never saw coming, if only because he is sitting on 499 homers and has a guaranteed $14 million contract this year, but the Tigers went ahead and released Gary Sheffield.
On one hand this is so strange, because teams never ever release guys on the eve of these kinds of milestones, do they? Especially when they are going to have to cough up all that money either way, right? But maybe it just speaks to how much some of these milestones have been tarnished by the steroid era. Even pitching ones, maybe, now that we have Roger Clemens. After all, the Diamondbacks just let Randy Johnson walk despite his desire to return and his being still good and only five wins away from 300.
I’m actually going to say that I think this deal is good for both the Tigers and Sheffield. Kudos to Detroit for recognizing that as a team with a legitimate shot at contention this year, they need to put the best team on the field from day one, regardless of milestones and any other sentimental garbage, and that that team no longer includes a 40-year old Sheffield who hit .247 in his two seasons with the Tigers and has been wracked by injuries.
At the same time, this is a great chance for Sheffield to hook on with a team that might actually give him some playing time. The Tigers’ trade for outfielder Josh Anderson this week really left Sheffield nowhere to go except riding the pine and occasionally DHing.
Although Sheffield has aged rapidly in the past two years, he still has some batspeed left when healthy, and at the major league minimum he represents a good gamble for some team in need of a right-handed stick.