New York Mets Sign Sheffield, Move to American League

Frank RederContributor IApril 4, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 17:  New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya addresses the media at a press conference called to name Jerry Manuel as the interim manager at Angel Stadium on June 17, 2008 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Really Omar Minaya? Really? Gary Sheffield? Really!?

I can't understand it, I just can't.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Omar Minaya had a mental lapse and forgot, for a brief moment, that the Mets play in the National League.

Up until now, the Mets GM had gone to great lengths to make sure the Mets were a team built to succeed in the National League style. He must have forgotten where Sheffield was the last two years.


The Tigers acquired Sheff because he is the industry standard of what the Tigers are all about. They are the perfect example of a team composed solely of right-handed DHs.

And they cut him!

The very team that hoards players of the Sheffield style thought he couldn't hack it anymore.

The Mets decided what they needed was a forty-one year old right fielder who can no longer run and who hasn't played more than ten games in the outfield in either of the last two years.

So what position can the DH play in the NL?

The Mets envision him as a pinch-hitter but the once-feared slugger hasn't hit .300 since he played Atlanta six years ago and batted just .247 during his stint in Detroit.

Furthermore, the Mets can't expect a player with his ego so sit on the bench for 8.2 innings a game. There's a reason he's about to play for his eighth different team; he destroys clubhouses.

It's tough to understand why a team with the chemistry problems the Mets have (stop lying David Wright, we know you hate each other) would throw fuel on the fire by adding a player like that.

Fortunately, Jerry Manuel is around to explain things.

"When you can add that type of historic bat—and hopefully you get that at some point—then that's a tremendous acquisition for a dominant left-hand hitting team."

With their three switch hitters (Beltran, Reyes, Castillo), the Mets actually bat half right handed against a lefty, and are able to turn around and have seven lefties against a righty.

If Manuel sets up an intelligent lineup (we'll see) there's no scenario in which an opposing manager can bring a pitcher out of the bullpen to face more than two batters without running into matchup problems.

But just for a minute let's accept Manuel's premise, that the Mets desperately need a strong right handed presence in the lineup.  Couple this with the question marks in the corner outfield spots, and it becomes pretty obvious that the Mets really missed a golden chance this offseason when they didn't pursue Manny Ramirez.

That presence in the lineup would create depth off the bench, give David Wright and Carlos Beltran protection, solve the outfield dilemma, the right hand hitting problem, the hitting with runners in scoring position problem, and make the Mets the prohibitive favorite to win the NL east.

I understand that he would have been expensive, but he was available at an incredible discount, and frankly, he gets paid like he does for a reason.

Even if he packs it in for two years out of a three year deal, during the one year he puts up Manny-like numbers, the Mets probably win the World Series.

And with the new stadium, strength in the bullpen, a not-yet-over-the-hill Carlos Delgado, and a still dominant number starter, all the Mets need to be a legitimate threat in October is that one final puzzle piece Manny could provide.

But instead, they'll just have Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church hitting sixth and seventh and Gary Sheffield sitting next to Jerry Manuel for eight innings a game.

Might as well reschedule the annual October golf trip now.