Gary Sheffield's Release About Personality and Performance

Don SpielesCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2009

BOSTON - APRIL 8:   Gary Sheffield #3 of the Detroit Tigers misses a pitch against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 2008 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox defeated the Tigers 5-0.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

While most roster moves at this point of the year are unsurprising and routine, we now know that Gary Sheffield will not be a Tiger this season

Sheffield he was released today, just one home run short of 500. 

The low premium going around this year for most free agents aside, Sheffield is not always the best guy in a clubhouse, on the field, or in front of a reporter. 

Sheffield's dismissal is about attitude and aptitude, not about dollars.

Assuming that Sheffield gets to play somewhere and hit at least one more home run, he will be a bit of an odd-ball in that group by virtue of his path around the majors. If and when he hits that jack, it will be with his eighth different franchise (assuming Detroit doesn't resign him.) 

So, while he will be the low man on the totem pole of 500 home run men, he'll immediately be tops in the category of journeyman.  No other player on the list had played with more than six unique franchises.  Eddie Murray is the only one with six teams on his resume. 

Sheffield's ability, or perhaps it should be stated as need, to move has not been due to his stats, but due to his personality.  Before he even played in a major league game, he was arrested with his uncle Dwight Gooden for fighting with police in Tampa, Florida.  

In 2005, he got into an altercation with a fan in Boston.  The drunken fan was ejected, but Sheffield was also fined by the league.  

In June of 2007, he made headlines by talking to GQ about how Latino players were easier to control than African-Americans, which to Sheffield explained why there are so many of them in the major leagues. 

A month later, Sheffield accused Joe Torre of being a racist who treated black players differently.  When asked about Torre's excellent relationship with Derek Jeter, Sheffield explained that Jeter, "ain't all the way black."

In 2008, Sheffield was suspended for four games after a fight with the Indians’ Fausto Carmona.  Sheffield's response to the suspension was to state that he, too, would be punishing some Indians players.

All through the specific incidents there has been a fine glaze of controversy that has coated Sheffield's career.  He publicly demanded better pay while with the Dodgers.  He refused to play in the first World Baseball Classic because there would be no pay. 

Sheffield has also been linked to steroids, a charge to which he claims ignorance.  While most would not argue that there are few professional athletes more ignorant that Sheffield, the excuse seems typically transparent.

On the flip side, Sheffield has not been a fluke player.  For his career he has posted an on-base percentage of .394 and a .909 OPS.  He has hit with an average of .292 with 2615 hits.  He has averaged 107 RBI per season.  

In recent days, his defense has become suspect as it does with any player on the verge of age 40.  He has spent the last few years plagued with nagging injuries that have limited playing time.  This spring saw more complaints than performance from Sheffield.  He made no secret that he was upset at only being considered for DH.  His spring training batting average of .198 solved that problem.

The big thing to remember is that the Detroit Tigers are not saving money with this move.  The will have to pay Sheffield the $14 million they owe him. 

With AAA certainly not an option, you have a guy who can't help the team on the field, will be a distraction if made to be a bench player, so what do you do?  You wave goodbye.

It still sucks.  As much as Sheffield annoys most, it would still be nice for him to bale to finish his career by making that list above. 

The question remains as to whether Sheffield values that enough to eat crow and sing to the fractional amount that he'll be offered.