What do the Phillies see in Sheffield?

April, 2, 2009
Todd Zolecki wonders if the Phillies might have a big announcement this afternoon:

    Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters yesterday that three teams have expressed interest in Gary Sheffield.

    We know the Phillies are one of them, and the fact Ruben Amaro Jr. has acknowledged that interest publicly tells me the Phillies very much want to sign him once he clears waivers at 1 p.m. today. If they were just kicking the tires, Amaro might not be so upfront about it (although he really hasn't said much other than he has talked to Sheffield, Sheffield's agent Rufus Williams and that they are interested).

    But we also know today that the Reds are talking to Sheffield.

    There probably are more than three teams that have interest in Sheffield, but we know two of them are National League teams and we know ESPN's Buster Olney reported yesterday there don't seem to be many fits in the American League, where Sheffield would be an ideal fit.

    The Phillies' chances to get Sheffield? Not knowing who the other teams are or what the other teams are promising in terms of playing time, I'd still say it's less likely than likely, but I wouldn't say it's a tremendous long shot, either.

    Update: Sheffield told Dusty Baker that he wants playing time. The Phillies can't give that to him, but it sounds like the Reds can't, either. So it remains unlikely Sheffield is a fit, but if nobody can offer Sheffield playing time then he might have to reconsider.

    Oh, the suspense is just killing me.

Me too. I just can't live without knowing which uniform Sheffield will be wearing when he hits his 500th home run. Because, you know, that's such a special number these days.

No, really … I kid 500 because I love 500.

Well, maybe not love. But I'm surprised to see how rare that milestone remains. Sheffield will be just the 25th player with 500 homers, and the list isn't going to grow much in the coming seasons. Carlos Delgado has 469 and will probably get there in 2010. Otherwise, the only active player with at least 400 homers (but fewer than 500) is Chipper Jones, and he's got just 408 so is just semi-likely to reach 500.

Why the Phillies, though? Sheffield can't play left field; Raul Ibanez is there. And there's no reason for him to play right field; Jayson Werth is both young and (probably) better than Sheffield. Would Sheffield be content as a pinch-hitter? Sure seems unlikely.

I've seen this a million times: Once-great player suddenly becomes available and the eyes of the GMs glaze over and get real wide, as if they were two years old and the player were a bright shiny object. Gary Sheffield … scary hitter … must find place in lineup … Except he can't field, the evidence that he can hit is underwhelming, he's probably not going to be happy unless he's playing almost every day and you probably don't want him around if he's not happy.

Sheffield might be able to help someone as a DH against lefties. I can't figure out how he helps the Phillies or the Reds or anyone else in the National League.



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