Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Bother Trading Sheffield?

You can count me in the minority on the Gary Sheffield saga that has been brewing over the last 24 hours. I see no reason for Omar Minaya to trade Sheffield unless the Mets are going to get a decent prospect in return.

This seems counter-intuitive, but then the Mets are in a unique situation with Sheffield. They are only paying him the major-league minimum of $400,000 this season, so he certainly isn't too expensive to keep for another six weeks. With David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado all on the disabled list, Sheffield is the best hitter left in the Mets' lineup.

Gary Sheffield has the most name recognition, the cheapest contract and is arguably the most productive offensive player on the Mets right now. The 2009 season may be over in terms of a playoff chase, but the franchise still needs to sell tickets and attract viewers until October 4.

Who is more likely to do that - Gary Sheffield or a C-level prospect that will probably never make it beyond the Double-A level?

Because that's all the Mets can reasonably expect from a waiver deal involving Sheffield. They can only trade with the team that selected Sheffield on waivers (Jon Heyman is saying that it was the Giants), so it's not like they can shop offers and take the best one. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean was setting the market for Sheffield, and all Minaya could do was hope that Sabean wanted his man badly enough that he would trade something of value for him.

This apparently did not come to pass - although no names on the Giants' side have been bandied about, so we still do not know for sure. There was no reason to let Sheffield go for nothing at that point; even if he's not going to be part of the future, there is still six weeks left of baseball to play in 2009. Sheffield's participation in those games is worth more than a non-prospect at St. Lucie or Binghamton.

All of this, of course, is based on the presumption that Jerry Manuel will stop pulling starting outfielders out of a hat and settle on a semi-regular rotation for the rest of the season. It shouldn't be so difficult - Sheffield should be getting the majority of starts in left field, Jeff Francouer should play every game until the end of the season in right field* and the job of playing center field and backing up Sheffield once or twice a week in left field should fall to Angel Pagan, Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan.

* This is not because I believe that Jeff Francouer is a good baseball player and should be the starting right fielder for the Mets in 2010. Nothing I've seen from Francouer since the Mets acquired him has changed my initial opinion of him, and I can only hope that he will simply revert to career norms before the end of the season so that Minaya does not offer him a three-year guaranteed deal to buy out his arbitration years.

1 comment:

TW said...

The way a team gets people interested in watching them in times like these is to play your kids, ready or not. I know that starts arbitration clocks and what not but this is a franchise that shouldn't worry about spending money, considering most of the guys they bring up will be traded before their arbitration comes up.

As far as Francouer, he has reverted to career totals, more RBI, more strikeouts. His leadership and defensive skills are apparent and batting in seventh in a healthy order he will be fine for us. Or would you rather have to sign a pitcher, a left fielder a first baseman AND a right fielder? Even if times were good, financially, that would be a tall order. Lackey, a top tier left fielder and hope Murphy matures into a .280avg/.450 slu hitter by march or Ike Davis kills it in spring and totally blows projections aside. Let's not rid ourselves of another piece because you don't believe in intangibles.