Both parties are following their nature, paths leading on an inevitable collision course. Gary Sheffield and the Mets clashed last night, and it won’t be the last time before this train wreck of a season comes to its bitter end.
The Mets stumble through moments like this with veteran players, holding on to them too long, hoping for glimpses of the past rather than seeing the likely end. They grasped too long with Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Julio Franco before finally letting go. They did right with Livan Hernandez, but saving money by not paying out innings incentives was probably the true motivation.
Sheffield, as is his wont, is complaining again about his contract. He asked for an extension last night, was turned down, demanded his release and then wanted to sit out.
For his part, Sheffield has been a model citizen this season until last night. He’s proven he still had flashes of pop, and even at 41 next year, he probably would have gotten a contract. If not with the Mets, then maybe in the American League as a designated hitter.
The Mets, as they should have, exposed him to the waiver wire earlier this month and the San Francisco Giants put in a claim. Rather then get something, the Mets pulled him off the wire. Why? They weren’t going anywhere. Would he sell that many tickets?
With this move, the Mets lost the opportunity to trade Sheffield and if he’s claimed again they get nothing. Not smart.
Concurrently, manager Jerry Manuel, who doesn’t always measure his thoughts before speaking, said he thought Sheffield still had something and wanted him back next year.
Sheffield’s timing was poor – it usually is when it comes to talking about his contract – but he had every reason to assume he was in the Mets’ plans for 2010.
When the Mets turned him down – they didn’t even say let’s talk about it after the season – they were saying he wasn’t in their future. Sheffield now says the Mets are holding him hostage, which is only partly true.
Barring his release through irrevocable waivers, he’ll languish over the next five weeks in the mediocrity that has become the Mets. There will be no postseason for Sheffield. However, he’s still making $14 million this year (Detroit is paying $13.6 million) and if he finishes quiet with him mouth and loud with his bat, he’ll play again.
It is hard to understand if Sheffield weren’t in their plans why the Mets would keep him. With the season lost, wouldn’t this be a good time to give Nick Evans extended playing time in left field to see if there is something? If Evans showed something, it might alleviate one less off-season headache. You never know.
If history is any indicator, Sheffield will purposely become a distraction. The Mets would likely blame the media for stirring the pot, but with a loose cannon like that, he’s going to be asked questions. He’s an easy story now.
He did so while with the Yankees to the point they were pleading for somebody to take him. The suckers were the Tigers who gave him a $28 million contract.
The Mets should realize this season is lost and there’s no benefit to keeping Sheffield. They should pull the trigger now and be done with it.