Sheffield Revisited & Other News

Now that Sheffield is officially a Detroit Tiger for the forseeable future, let’s examine what exactly the team got with the veteran outfielder. Everyone knows the potential baggage brought aboard with his attitude and me-first outlook on things, but his good relationship with Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski from Florida eases those fears. Most importantly is that they acquired a player who instantly improves their lineup at the same time becoming the biggest power threat within it. Sheffield mashed 30+ home runs in every season since 2000 except last year’s injury-shortened on and topped 35 during four of those seasons. The Tigers were a free-swinging ballclub from top to bottom last season; Sheffield is a more patient (by comparison, especially) hitter capable of avoiding the strikeout and drawing a fair share of walks. Though the trade bolsters the lineup, Sheffield is definitely in decline as he approaches his 38th birthday on the 18th of this month. Here is a look at Sheffield’s career numbers with some negative trends highlighted in red:

Notice the four-year declines in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He also has a four-year decline in home runs, but last year was because of the broken wrist. Still, a 30-home run output would’ve made him #1 on the Tigers. I highlighted the games played because even as he’s elevated into his late 30s, he plays day in, day out—again, last year being an exception with the severe injury that sidelined him for most of the season. I point out the declines only to set the proper expectations for those wondering what to expect from Sheffield in 2007. I expect another season batting around .300 with an on-base over .350 and about 30 home runs. Even though his walk totals are downtrending, the 78 he posted in 2005 would’ve led this season’s Tigers by seven (Carlos Guillen, 71).

As for lineup improvement, Sheffield is a great addition, but I don’t think the team is done. According to a Matthew Pouliot article found on Rotoworld.com, there are rumblings of moving Jeremy Bonderman to Texas for Mark Teixeira. I’d love to see Tex in a Tigers uniform, but I’d hate to see Bonderman leave Detroit. The likelihood of that move is unknown especially because I don’t see a date attached to the article so I’m not sure if it was done prior to the Sheffield trade or not.

To the surprise of very few, if any, Justin Verlander ran away with the Rookie of the Year award yesterday. I’m very happy for JV as he is the first American League pitcher to net the honor since 1981 when Dave Righetti did so. In other award news, I’m going to do a little back-patting. Though it’ll be the only I get right, Brandon Webb was announced as the National League Cy Young winner today. Back in early April, I selected Webb for the award. His 16-win total ties him for the lowest by a Cy Young winning starting pitcher since Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.

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