As everyone and their dog will be happy to tell you, the Jays need a big, bopping bat. Well, one of the biggest just became available at bargain-basement prices — the Tigers have released Gary Sheffield.
Sure, he’s only hit .176 with three home runs so far this spring and he hasn’t quite been the same since a shoulder injury in 2007, but he does have a few things going in his favour:
1. His contract with Detroit was guaranteed at $14 million per season, meaning whichever team signs him now will likely be able to pick him up cheaply (maybe even league minimum) because he’s got those Little Caesars cheques rolling in. So whether he’s healthy or not, he won’t be too much of a financial risk.
2. Sheffield may have had an “off” year last season, but his 19 home runs in 418 at bats is one behind the Jays’ leader of 2009, Vernon Wells, who hit 20 in 427 at bats.
Also: He’s sitting at 499 home runs for his career, so if proving the Tigers wrong isn’t motivation enough for him to have a good season, the Hall of Fame should be motivation enough for him to hit at least one more. And wasn’t it fun to see Frank Thomas hit No. 500 in a Jays uniform (even if that experiment did end badly.)
3. The man is insane. Even if there’s something to the Tigers’ whole “we’re going to pay you $14 million to not play for us” stance, take a gander at some of these quotes, like this one:
“In a million years I don’t care what nobody say. Steroids is something you shoot in your butt. You know, I do know that.”
and tell me having this guy around wouldn’t make 2009 one hell of a lot more interesting.
OK, so he has said his first choice would be to play for Tampa Bay because it’s close to his home (and presumably because it’s a good team), but it wouldn’t hurt for J.P. to at least give the crazy man a ring, would it?