Is Sheff a fit in the City of Brotherly Love?

Admit it, before you were even done reading about Geoff Jenkins' release, the name Gary Sheffield popped into your head. The Phillies are interested in signing Sheffield, but is it a good fit and is there anything left in Sheff's tank?

The Phillies have spent the winter and the spring searching for a right-handed corner outfielder with power that they can bring off the bench. Their search may have taken a deciding turn when the Detroit Tigers released Gary Sheffield.

Sheffield is owed $14 million for this season by Detroit and would only cost the Phillies $400 thousand to sign, making him affordable. And his 499 career home runs qualify him as a power bat.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro confirmed that the club has reached out to Sheffield's agent Rufus Williams to let him know of their interest in his client.

This spring had been particularly tough for the 40 year old Sheffield, who hit just .178 (8-for-45) for the Tigers this spring. Sheffield also struggled last season, hitting just .225 for Detroit and played just six games in the outfield. In fact, Sheffield has played just 39 games in the outfield over the past three seasons.

So, is Sheffield a good fit for the Phillies?

There are a number of things to consider. First; would he be happy being a utility player for the Phillies. Odds are that he's not going to get anywhere near the 418 at-bats that he had last season and Sheffield is a guy who likes to play. Second; does he fit in the clubhouse? This is probably the biggest question that the Phillies will have to ask themselves, because their clubhouse is known for being relaxed and cohesive. Sheffield isn't exactly known for being relaxed or cohesive. Third; are there enough skills left in Sheffield to make him a useful fit? Considering that they would only have to pay him the major league minimum of $400 thousand, Sheff would likely have enough skills left for the Phillies to consider signing him.

After all, if they were willing to eat $17 million in contracts from Geoff Jenkins and Adam Eaton, what's another $400 thou, right?

Perhaps the stat that should raise the most concern regarding Sheffield's skills is his walk:strikeout ratio. If you discount the 2006 season, when Sheffield was hurt for much of the season, 2008 was the just the third season in his 21 year career and the first since 1993 that Sheffield struck out more than he walked and it was by a fairly wide margin.

Charlie Manuel has a way of getting through to players, including some of the more high maintenance players in baseball. And he's definitely one of the better hitting gurus in the game, which might make him a nice match for Sheffield, who will be looking to squeeze every remaining ounce of power out of his swing.

One thing is certain. With the release of Jenkins, the Phillies search for a right-handed bat is in high gear. There is now an open spot and nobody of note to fill that spot to the Phillies true liking.

At least if the Phillies were to sign Sheffield, he would have a shot at being popular with fans thanks to one thing that Sheffield has in common with most Phillies fans; a hatred of Scott Boras.

The depreciation of Gary Sheffield?

 

Year/Team HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B BB KO OBP SLG
2005 NY Yankees 34 123 .291 154 584 104 170 27 0 78 76 .379 .512
2006 NY Yankees 6 25 .298 39 151 22 45 5 0 13 16 .355 .450
2007 Detroit 25 75 .265 133 494 107 131 20 1 84 71 .378 .462
2008 Detroit 19 57 .225 114 418 52 94 16 0 58 83 .326 .400
2009 CHONE Projections 20 68 .242 119 446 72 108 17 0 62 74 .341 .415



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