At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sheffield at Fenway in ’07?

As Red Sox Nation turns its lonely eyes to next year, an interesting question arises: how might Gary Sheffield look in Boston’s home whites?

The current Yankee slugger apparently is ready to come off the disabled list, but there’s no obvious place for him to play in the Bronx, and it says here that the Bombers won’t pick up his contract option for next year this being the case.

Sheffield’s usual position is right field, but that patch of ground is now being patrolled by mid-season pickup Bobby Abreu, who is having a career half-year and is under contract through next season. Sheffield is working out at first base, but playing there means displacing slugger Jason Giambi, who could DH but doesn’t want to fill that role full-time any more than Sheffield does. Could/would Sheffield play left? Assuming so, that would mean moving the talented Hideki Matsui – himself just back from being disabled – to another position, at which point the wheel would just spin again.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, likely will present just the opposite scenario. They’ll probably have an opening in right, as Trot Nixon is in his walk year and – lovable 'dirt dawg' though he may be – my guess is that he will not receive the same financial ‘love’ from Boston that he will from someplace else. The club also should have some free-range cash available, as many of its (higher-priced) veterans are likely to depart via free agency (e.g., Gonzalez) or trade (e.g., Crisp) and will be replaced by (lower-cost) youngsters (e.g., Pedroia). So the circumstances would seem to exist for the Sox to add Sheffield should they – and he – be inclined to make a deal.

Sheffield is getting old by baseball standards (38 in November), and historically he’s been more outspoken and cranky than may be ideal. But he can hit – oh, can he hit! – and he might like to show old George (Steinbrenner) something should he be let go. So there’s a case to be made for bringing him in, and it will be fun to see what happens.

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