Phillies Release Geoff Jenkins: Should the World Champs Pick Up Gary Sheffield?
On Tuesday, March 31, the Phillies parted ways with veteran outfielder Geoff Jenkins, an underproducing hitter who wasn't worth the eight million dollars he commanded in 2008.
Jenkins was entering the second season of a two-year, $16 million contract, which is a lot of money for a backup outfielder.
Jenkins was expected to platoon with Jayson Werth in right field for the 2008 season, but Werth won the starting job against very little competition. Werth then enjoyed his best season to date, hitting 24 home runs while stealing 20 bases in 21 attempts.
Meanwhile, Jenkins was used just sparingly throughout the year, hitting .246 in only 293 at-bats. Jenkins, who had hit 20 home runs seven different times, added just nine home runs to the Phillies. It was Jenkins' lowest output since his rookie season of 1998.
His time in Philadelphia can't be considered a total flop—he did hit a pinch-hit leadoff double in the sixth inning of Game Five of the World Series. This led to the Phillies' go-ahead run, subsequently earning the franchise's first World Championship in 28 years.
But a statline of .246/.301/.392 is not what we as Phillies fans hoped for from a former All-Star with over 200 career home runs.
Now that Jenkins is gone, the Phillies' outfield consists of LF Raul Ibanez, CF Shane Victorino, and RF Jayson Werth, with aging slugger Matt Stairs the only backup.
Victorino is a Gold Glover in the field and Werth can cover a lot of ground out there in right field. Ibanez, who is 37 and not getting any younger, is an adequate defender who can play all nine innings—something the team didn't like to do with Pat Burrell.
Stairs is on his last breath of life as a major league player. At 41 years old, he has no business playing anywhere in the field. He has even regressed as a hitter, although Phillies fans will never forget his game-winning home run in Game Four of the NLCS.
The team needs another outfielder.
What about Gary Sheffield?
Sheffield was released by the Tigers just days ago. Rumors say Sheffield's agent has already engaged in talks with the Phillies' front office and is working on a deal that would bring the slugger to Philadelphia.
Sheffield would be best suited as a DH for the Phillies. Obviously this isn't possible, so he would need to play the outfield—preferrably left field because it is less demanding.
Sheffield is still a dangerous hitter and could provide a reliable option as a right-handed option off the bench. His batting average slipped to a career-low .225 last season, but he still added 19 home runs and 57 RBI in 418 at-bats.
As it stands, Sheffield is sitting on 499 home runs, so if he joins Philly, his first home run with the team would vault him into the illustrious 500-home run club.
In terms of defense, Sheffield has played just 318 innings in the field in the last three years combined. He has lost a step (or two) and cannot be counted on as even a solid defender.
If Victorino or Werth went down with an injury, I don't think I would feel too comfortable in terms of our options in the field. The corner outfield spots would be manned by Raul Ibanez and either Matt Stairs or Gary Sheffield. Not too many teams would be scared to hit against that defense.
Sheffield is definitely an intriguing option. I'm pretty surprised the Tigers let him go, especially so close to the start of the season. He brings veteran experience and a powerful bat to the lineup, but I don't know if the Phillies need another aging, no-defense slugger.
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