OK, I know what you’re thinking. Clubhouse cancer. Malcontent. Said bad things about Joe Torre (which may actually go in his “Plus” column with the Yankee front office these days). But think about it for a minute. He’s not a bad option as a platoon partner for Gardner. He has power, hits Lefties, you could use Gardner as a late inning defensive replacement for him and Gary as a bat off the bench as a Pinch Hitter late in games. If he’s ready to accept a limited role (and I think he is) it could work.
The idea would be he adds some pop to Gardner’s speed and defense, adding up to good overall production out of LF spot for 2010. Yes, he’s bad defensively. But so was Johnny Damon and if I’m not mistaken things worked out pretty well for us last year. Despite his advanced age he has a better arm than either Damon or Gardner. If I’m an opposing manager, even at 41 years old he would still scare me enough coming off the bench that I would game plan around him. Brian Cashman has often said that a key strength of the late 90s teams were guys like Chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines coming off the bench. They were at a point in their careers where they willing to play bench roles and that he’s had enormous trouble finding veterans to play similar bench roles in recent years. Gary Sheffield could play a similar role for the 2010 Yankees.
The problem with Gary in recent years was he still thought he could play every day, was always banged up and tried to play through it. But I remember him saying last year when the Mets signed him that he knows he’s not an everyday player anymore. In respect to the ‘malcontent’ label, most of the problems he’s had with his various teams usually involved the front offices, and were almost always over contract disputes. In what may very well be his last contract, that’s no longer an issue. People forget that when he made the Torre comments, he was selling a book at the time. In the clubhouse, he’s generally well-liked wherever he’s been. Bobby Cox raved about him in his one season with the Braves and Jeter was good friends with him in his time with the Yankees, so he can’t be that bad.
For a few mil? Worst case scenario you cut him loose mid season.