I'll admit it, the Gary Sheffield bandwagon left without me.
The thought of an aging outfielder on a team that was committing to youngsters did not appeal to me. Oh sure, his contract was being paid for by the Detroit Tigers and the Mets really had nothing to lose. Yet his negative influence on some former teams really never sat well with me and if he was released with $14 million left on his contract, there had to be something wrong.
My genius was apparent when Sheffield finished April with his 500th home run and only four more hits in 30 ABs. Although he got on base reasonably well, he didn't hit, and his .167 batting average made us all wonder why Jerry Manuel felt so strongly to start him in Left Field, even with Daniel Murphy's defensive struggles.
May brought injuries and further struggles by Murphy. Sheffield has started 14 games this month and shown flashes of the player he was in the early part of the decade. His line of .357/.486/.625 is stellar and he has driven in 13 runs in those 14 games.
On top of this, Sheff has made only one error in the field. He is not known as a great defensive outfielder but playing next to Carlos Beltran has minimized the impact of his range.
I do not believe Gary Sheffield can be considered a long term solution for any team. As a stopgap, he has redeemed himself with his decent play in May. Yet if May was a repeat of April, he would probably have been a candidate to be released.
As the Mets are still worried about recovering from injuries, the constant in the outfield is one they never thought they'd have to resort to. And the better Gary Sheffield plays, the less we'll hear groans about it.
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