I have to admit I’m a little surprised this happened. Gary Sheffield and his annoying bat waggle have been cut by the Tigers, despite the fact that they own him $14M for this season.
It’s the second most a player has ever been paid to not play for a team. (Behind Damion Easley’s 2003 campaign.) But at some point a guy just isn’t worth having around.
Last year Sheffield put together a +0.5 WARP, and for some reason Baseball Prospectus has him projected to bounce back to a weighted mean projection of +1.0 WARP. I don’t see how they can predict a recovery like that in his age 40 season … but what I will say is that their statistical projections may be tainted a bit by having been developed during the steroid era.
Looking at FanGraphs’ data, he was worth +0.3 Win Values last year. They don’t have a Win Values projection on their site, but every projection system they list projects him to improve his wOBA, all but one have him improving his wRAA, and they all see him improving his OPS.
I just don’t get it. The guy is cooked. The only reason to have him on your team is if you’re forced to pay him … and apparently even that isn’t enough. Now we’ll see which team feels like it’d be a good idea to have him around for free*.
But given that the Tigers just demonstrated that they’re willing to waste an expensive salary by cutting a worthless player, what does this mean for The Dontrelle Situation? Granted, their entire team is overflowing with corner-OF/DH types, and they don’t exactly have an overabundance of quality starting pitching. So maybe the situations aren’t analagous enough. Still, I think it’s become worth watching.
* The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if it has anything to do with the fact that he’s a former steroid user (he admitted to doing the cream and the clear, but denied they were steroids because he “doesn’t let guys stick things in his butt”), and he currently has 499 career home runs. Can anyone else see Bud Selig picking up the phone and telling the Tigers he’d pick up part of Sheffield’s salary if they cut him before the season starts? I can. Can you see him putting a little pressure on the rest of the owners to give Sheffield the Bonds Treatment? I can. Do you think this is really what happened? I, um, don’t really think so. But given that this is a blog and I can say whatever I want to, I’m just going to toss it out there.
At the end of the day, all this means to the Twins is that we won’t be distracted by the bat waggle any more, and he won’t victimize our pitching by smashing home runs all the time against us. I had the distinct feeling he was going to hit #500 against us.2 comments