With Sheffield gone, I'd say that 90+% of the reaction that I've seen has been positive about it. And as much as I like and respect all of the guys and gals that make up our little Tiger blog community...I just don't get it at all. Sure, the guy could be a jerk, but you just want to let him walk with $14 million and get nothing for it? People are actually happy about this, but not me.
"But Rogo, he's old and sucks." Gary is getting old. I agree. But he's better than anyone else we have to replace him. Old Gary is better than Young Marcus, Young Clete, Young Ryan, Young Jeff, and Young New Guy From The Braves. See below.
"But Rogo, what about Thames? He can play every day now!" I like Marcus. He's a great guy, probably second to only Granderson in the "great guy" department on the team. But just compare an injured Gary Sheffield to a healthy Marcus Thames last year.
Sheff: .225, 19, 57, .326 OBP, 83 K's, 418 AB's.
Thames: .241, 25, 56, .292 OBP, 95 K's, 316 AB's.
Healthy Thames has more power than an injured Sheffield. But he gets on base less and strikes out a hell of a lot more. More importantly, Gary is healthy this year, finally. Those numbers are going to get a lot better. And how many times have we tried to trade Thames now? There's a reason no one wants him. He's Rob Deer with a great tan.
"But Rogo, Sheff has sucked this spring. So what if he's healthy?"
Gary's hit .178 with 3 homers and 5 RBI's this spring. Thames has hit .171 with 2 homers and 4 RBI's. But, Sheffield has LEAD THE TEAM in OBP this Spring (.387) in guys with at least 45 plate appearances. Only Laird and Granderson have had higher OBP this spring. (.409 and .424) But Gerald has only had 43 plate appearances and Curtis has had 30 in a Tiger uniform. Gary had 58. Yes, he only hit .178. But did he see a friggin' pitch all spring with Magglio, Miguel, Carlos, and Curtis playing WBC ball? No. And he still made it on base 39% of the time with a team leading 13 walks. (Larish was second with 9)
"But Rogo, now we can get Magglio, Carlos, and Cabrera time at DH and play other guys!" What was stopping this before? Was anyone expecting Sheffield to play 162 games this year? Play him 110 games and keep him fresh. Rest Maggs and the other old men the other 52 games. So what if he complains? A healthy, angry Sheffield with something to prove in a contract year would have been great to see in an Old English D. And now we'll have to see it in another uniform.
Gary Sheffield might be a jerk and Marcus Thames might be a saint, but if I'm trying to field the best baseball team possible, I'm going to play the best player I have...not the nicest. Especially if I owe him $14 million whether he plays or not.
Good luck, Gary. At least we can retire #3 now.