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.

Tigers Sheffield BaseballOn 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.

4 Responses to “Tigers drop the hammer on Sheff”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Nick I would take out the “maybe” and say that all milestones, DEFINITELY including pitching milestones, have been tarnished. But I don’t think that’s why these teams are cutting these players loose – only a team with no shot of winning would keep a sub-par player on the roster just to put butts in the seats. Teams like the Tigers and the D-Backs know that contending will fill a lot more seats than one player hitting one career milestone. Plus, Detroitians seem to have no emotional connection to Sheff.

    The D-Backs’ decision feels different – on the one hand, it seems like they really couldn’t afford Johnson. But on the other, Arizonans still love, LOVE the Big Unit and would theoretically have loved to watch him go for 300. And 300 wins seems rarer these days than 500 homers.

  2. The Mariners signed Ken Griffey Jr. not because he was the best player available, but as an obvious attempt to win over the fans. And it’s working. Ticket sales are through the roof.

    The problem with Sheff is he’s not likeable. Nobody’s going to show up to root for him.

  3. I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised that 500 HR’s is not meaningful to the masses when you are talking about a guy with an admitted BALCO connection. Good for Detroit for not pandering to the lowest common denominator of BB fans.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Indeed, M’s fans still love Griffey. Even after all these years. And they have no other reason to go to the ballpark, because their team sucks. If Boston had a problem selling tickets – and tickets were cheap – and the Red Sox signed Pedro – and Pedro had ANYthing left – I could see ticket sales going up. Sure.

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