This is cool. Very cool.
The Tigers traded three of their pitching prospects today for Gary Sheffield. The Gary Sheffield who’s drawn more walks (1,293) in his career then he’s struck out (971). The Gary Sheffield with a career .398 OBP. And the Gary Sheffield with 455 career homeruns. Of course everything comes with a price.
Humberto Sanchez took the minor leagues by storm in the first half of the season last year and was involved in trade rumors for Alfonso Soriano. Then he hurt his elbow and ended up throwing only 123 innings because of it. Whelan was a closer in waiting but he was probably at least one full year away from making it to the big league club. Same goes for Claggett, who’s probably closer to two years away.
I like this deal. A lot. Gary Sheffield, whether he’s 38 or not (which he’ll be Nov. 18) , is one of the premiere hitters in baseball. He does it all. I likened him to a Barry Bonds light back when Bonds was winning MVPs. He gets on base, takes a walk, doesn’t strike out and he drives in runs. He’ll be playing mostly DH and probably spotting Craig Monroe and Magglio Ordonez out in the corners through out the year. He seems to have a great relationship with Jim Leyland and that will definitely help. So if Sheffield plays the whole season, you should expect something to the tune of 30 homeruns, 110 RBIs and .290/.390/510. He’ll make an ideal hitter in that three spot. Oh yeah, we also locked him up for three years and he’ll make $28 million in 2008 and 2009.
Out of all the Tigers’ pitching prospects, Humberto Sanchez was the one I would most like to see dealt away. Prior to 2006, he was fairly mediocre. He had a career 4.73 ERA through Single A and Double A and was actually set to repeat Double A in 2006 until he started tearing hitters up (86 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings with a 1.76 ERA). He’ll turn 24 one day after Sheffield turns 38 (Nov. 19). He started equally well at Toledo but struggled in his last three starts before getting shut down in Auguest. That elbow worried me too.
Wheelan and Claggett are both 22 and Wheelan played High A while Clagget played Low A.
So we gave up three pretty good arms, but as we all know, there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect. And two of them look like relievers, making the deal even more sweet. While having a good bullpen is pretty important, it’s also something that’s pretty easy to build through free agent pickups.
The big if is whether Sheffield will be able to stay healthy. He won’t be playing in the field nearly as much so that should be a huge bonus. Plus we have the coolness factor of Sheffield possibly hitting his 500th homerun in 2008. No player has ever hit his 500th homerun in a Tiger uniform (Eddie Mathews already had 503 when the Tigers picked him up late in 1967) so we’ll have the homerun count down to look forward to as well.