Ramblings on Sheff’s rehab

With Gary Sheffield beginning his rehab assignment I’ve heard quite a bit from Tigers fans that are actually concerned that Sheffield is coming back. Sheffield and his struggles have been received a considerable portion of the blame for the Tigers struggles. Now that the team is playing better and Sheffield isn’t around, people don’t want to mess with a good thing. That’s well and good, but why wouldn’t you want to upgrade a struggling position?

In June the Tigers DH’s are hitting 192/288/365. Jeff Larish has provided the bulk of that production with a few starts going to Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames. Prior to hitting the DL Sheffield was “producing” at a 213/344/331 clip. Awful to be sure, and not in line with his contract (who cares, sunk cost) or his reputation, but fifty points of OBP is pretty significant.

If there’s a chance that Sheffield can produce anywhere close to his pre-shoulder-injury numbers, don’t you want him back in your lineup? Yes I worry that he comes back and the shoulder still isn’t working and he’s allowed to flounder for an extended period of time. But the at-bats he’ll be taking will be mostly Larish’s. And yes you may give up a couple of Raburn’s and Clevlen’s at-bats and their gloves to a certain extent in the outfield which at this point the gloves would be the bigger loss.

I share the concerns that the Tigers are willing to let Sheffield completely dictate when he’s ready to come back. It’s that tricky trade-off of applauding a guy who tries to play through pain and chastising him when he doesn’t get removed from the lineup.

It’s a problem not unique to the Tigers. The Indians are dealing with the same things with Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. It caused Rob Neyer to question

Really? The Indians were better as a ballclub with a .216-hitting catcher with zero power? Speaking of which, Hafner’s batting .217/.326/.350 in 46 games. No, he wasn’t much good last season, but his numbers this season are simply beyond the pale. Here’s a question I’d like to see someone answer: How many games does the average team throw away in a season on guys who aren’t healthy enough to play, but do anyway? I’ll bet it’s more than three.

But here’s the rub, especially for stat-heads. When does it go from random fluctuation to performance impacted by injury? Batting average is highly volatile in and of itself and of course it impacts OBP and slugging. So when is that time when you’re no longer riding out a slump and are now throwing away at-bats?

A seemingly healthy Sheffield hit 200/369/306 in April 2007. That turned out to be a slump as he exploded in the subsequent 2.5 months to bring his season numbers more in line with career expectations. Now here you are in 2008 and your player says he is fine and the medical staff says he is fine, but he’s slumping. What’s the correct move for the team?

I think it’s clear that the Tigers waited too long with Sheffield. It became too long when Sheffield himself started admitting that the shoulder wouldn’t always “fire” like it should. When the player is saying that it isn’t working it’s probably time to shelve him. But the decision isn’t always so clear cut.


  1. jason

    June 17, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Well, inserting him into the lineup is only half the problem. Sure he may produce *slighty* better numbers than the guys who have been DH’ing while he has been gone, but the problem is where he will be in the lineup.

    He seems to always be in a spot to kill a rally. I am assuming when he comes back, Leyland will be uncreative and put him in at the 3 spot. Why not throw him 8th or 9th? I hate the idea of him batting 3rd. At least until he can prove something at the plate.

    If it were my decision, I would probably have him on the bench, but I don’t see that happening because the organization doesn’t like to see 14 million dollars riding the pine, even if it means hurting the team.

  2. rings

    June 17, 2008 at 8:43 am

    The Sheffield trade is a bust (in terms of him meeting expectations). The Tigers committed too many years and $$ to a DH guy who has basically 2 months “normal” production over the past three seasons. He’s also arguably cancer in the dugout. Any coincidence that the Tigers are playing better, more relaxed baseball w/o him in there? Since he’s been with Detroit, he’s called baseball racists towards Latinos because they can control them, called Joe Torre and the Yankees racists, and refused to be honest about his health. None of these things are good. At best, they are an unneeded distraction.

    To compare Sheff and his production in the DH spot to the production without him – which is basically Larish – is also silly. Obviously, Larish shouldn’t be in there either (another player getting too much undeserved playing time).

    Plug in Marcus Thames and forget about it (as many of us argued should’ve been done when we acquired Gary). And you can give Thames 2-3 starts a week in LF and rotate Maggs, Guillen, Pudge, etc. in the DH spot for a partial day off.

    Its not that tough to figure out.

  3. tiff

    June 17, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I understand the logic of him seeing good pitches in the 3 spot before Maggs or Guillen or Gil, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the bottom third of the lineup, exactly where Larish is now.

    Gil will just have to clear the bases before Sheff gets a chance to kill the rally.

  4. billfer

    June 17, 2008 at 9:48 am

    I’m not buyin the cheistry thing and think it is entirely coincidence. When Sheff was doing all those cancerous things last year the team was winning. They started losing when he got hurt, not when he blasted baseball or Torre.

  5. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 10:16 am

    In Sheffield’s case, I have to agree with Billfer. Except I’ll go a step further and say I’ve never seen any evidence that he’s been a negative influence in the clubhouse in Detroit. In fact, all I’ve ever heard is what a great teammate he is. Sure he’ll make the controversial political statement in the press. But I don’t see that effecting the clubhouse.

  6. ez

    June 17, 2008 at 10:18 am

    The problem with Sheffield is Leyland molly coddling him. Leyland will ONLY bat him 3rd. Lord only knows how he’d react batting lower in the line-up, but you won’t see that.

    While Larish hasn’t been lighting it up, at least he has been doing it lower in the order. I like that Sheffield takes his share of walks, but we need more than that in the 3 hole.

    Rings made some keen points, and Bilfer had a nice counter. However, the thing is that you constantly have to “kid glove” Sheffield and I do believe at this point it has become a detriment to the team.

    Last year we won with the Sheffield “distractions”, this year it appears we starting to win without them. At this point I’d prefer he continue to rehab in Lakeland.

    To quote Bull Durham “Never f*ck with a winning streak”… Yes, we lost last night but the point is we have been winning more recently. Enjoy the I-4 commute, Gary. Stay in Florida.

  7. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

    A couple game threads ago, the issue of Sheffield vs. Thames came up. Now, there has been no real controversy in 2008 about any direct competition between them for a position. But the comparison is still interesting.

    In response to a facetious post by me, Jeff correctly pointed out some RC/G data on Thames and Sheffield. What I didn’t have time to come back with, in terms of hard numbers, was how awful Sheffield was in terms of wWPA, game after game after game. Sheffield was literally the King Of Unclutch through April-May, rally killer extraordinaire. Thames was the opposite.

    Just a comment on past performance. Not a projection.

    What I like best is what I’m not going to get: Thames in LF, Guillen at DH, Inge at 3B when he’s not catching and Hessman at 3B when he is (Hessman is Inge as far as I can tell, in good and bad), and Sheffield on the bench to pinch hit and DH maybe once a week until he proves he can hit again. I’d really rather just cut the losses with Sheffield, but that’s probably both harsh and unrealistic to expect right away. He is just coming off the DL.

  8. Jim McKee

    June 17, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Maybe Sheffield’s knowledge & experience could be leveraged by making him a player/coach (with more emphasis on the “coach” part)… eventually transitioning him into an asst. hitting coach role (and by eventually, I mean not later than the end of this season). If he’s not up for that, then I say cut him. He’s too injury-riddled/injury-prone at this point in his career to take up a valuable spot on the roster. Sorry, I wish it weren’t the case, a healthy Sheff rocks… but he ain’t healthy.

  9. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I’m thinking maybe Rodney should’ve been on the 16-day DL. Oh well, I figured they’d probably lose again this season anyway. A shame they couldn’t have hung Lincecum with an ‘L’, though. As for Sheffield, if he’s 100% he should be playing. Dude’s a beast. Of course if that comes at the expense of Thames AB’s at this point, I’m going to have to vote no on Proposition 3. Marcus is unconscious right now.

  10. T Smith

    June 17, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Let’s see how he does in Lakeland before we lay him out to pasture.

    I’m not saying any of the above is unfounded, but if I’m on the jury, I’m still deliberating. I’ll make my mind up after I see how he tees off in Lakeland.

  11. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Jim – Yes, it’s too bad Sheffield has to take a roster spot. Just being on the roster basically dictates that he must play. He’s a DH now, period. Can’t risk playing in LF any more, obviously, My scenario above is in fact ridiculous, because you can’t sacrifice the bench spot that would rightfully go to Clevlen or Thomas. Unless you skipped my Hessman idea, which many would also call ridiculous. In any case, Sheffield on the bench does not – unfortunately – make any sense.

  12. rings

    June 17, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Bilfer…I hear your point on Sheff’s comments, and without getting into an entire “team chemistry” conversation, I’m not saying that it is necessarily hurtful, but it isn’t helpful. EZ was more articulate than me in saying that the point is: Sheffield has to be handled a certain way that no one else does – He must bat in “his” spot in the order, he seems to dictate when or where he wants to play in the field, when he’s hurt, when he’s healthy, etc.
    And all his Latino teammates have been too classy to say anything outside the clubhouse about his racist comments (particulary Guillen, who handled it gracefully at the time). That doesn’t mean they haven’t affected people. Its no coincidence that he hasn’t exited gracefully from any of his other seven MLB homes.
    No other player, except perhaps Pudge in ’06, is given this type of leeway under Leyland.

    Regardless, that point is only part of the evidence against him. The greater sin is his overall lack of production. Its fine to walk for Ramon Santiago, but the 3-hole in the AL needs to drive in runs. Period. Sheff’s had two decent months at the plate in the past three years. He’s old and he’s a logjam at DH, where other players in the lineup could be partially rested, or Thames could assume the role. A full-time DH is fine, but he has to be consistently productive, particularly in the middle of the order.
    Sheff is 40+ years old and no longer has access to the same “helpers” he may have had in the past. He’s not going to be the Sheff that he was in his 30’s, but his attitude is.

  13. Kurt

    June 17, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I don’t mind Sheffield coming back. Even 3/4 of last summer’s production would be a huge addition. But I’m with Jason here. The problem isn’t so much Sheffield coming back, it’s the manager treating him like he’s Sheffield circa 5 years ago and batting him third. Pudge or Inge wouldn’t bat there, but a guy who is having no more production than those guys can bat third because why? Let him earn it, this isn’t kindergarten.

  14. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I think maybe JL should bat Sheffield 6th whenever he comes back. The reasons for this are twofold. 1) That’s probably where he should actually hit. You know, based on production. and 2) we’ve seen how Sheffield reacts to any slight, perceived or real. He seems to play better with that chip on his shoulder. I don’t know why, he just does. That’s kind of tough to look up on the stat sheet. I’d say he probably more HROOS (HR Out Of Spite) than any other player in history, though.

  15. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

    The whole ‘Sheff is too old’ argument is easily trumped by his above average batspeed that he consistently displayed this year. The only issue is with his health. Perhaps he’s damaged goods, perhaps not. If healthy, I have no doubt he’d be one of the better producers on the team. I think we’re all concerned that he might lie and say he’s ready when he’s not. That’s the big concern.

    I think all of us would be happy if he comes back and proves the naysayers worng.

  16. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 10:55 am

    “You know, based on production.” [batting #6]

    “more HROOS (HR Out Of Spite) than any other player in history”

    Chris, if this were a logical syllogism, the conclusion would be:

    “Bat Sheffield #9.”

  17. Dave BW

    June 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

    For the record, rings, Sheff is 39 — not 40+

  18. Dave BW

    June 17, 2008 at 10:59 am

    HROOS is my favorite new made-up stat

  19. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 11:03 am

    “I think all of us would be happy if he comes back and proves the naysayers wrong.”

    Agreed, Greg. I’d be equally happy if they released him today and made it a moot point so they could get on with better projects than making the lineup a test lab for him.

    Bat speed is wonderful. How long do you wait for it to translate into hits when a guy’s 40+? And why is Sheffield consistently given a pass in terms of “if only he was healthy, he would hit”? Players do lose it.

  20. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Of course, my “40+” was a typo. I meant to say 40-.

    But seriously. He’s not a young guy with a big future. He’s not back in 2009. Deserves little if any more patience than he’s already spent.

  21. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 11:08 am

    “Players do lose it.” Yes, they do (see Griffey Jr, Ken). I think the point about bat speed is that he hasn’t “lost it” yet though. My only problem with his age would be that the odds of him returning at 100% are significantly less than if he were, say, 25. They’ve got too much $$ invested in him for the remainder of this year and next to not give him a shot, though. That’s a big sunk cost if you were to release him outright or only get him 10 AB per week.

  22. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Well, Chris, Sheffield has been missing something other than bat speed so far, or his stats would be quite different. Is it all health-related? Maybe. I guess we’re going to find out. Provided he stays healthy, no given.

    If his June-July ends up looking like his April-May, do they DL him again? How set would be Tigers be against simply giving up at that point?

  23. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 11:28 am

    (Oops. Wrong thread at first…)

    It’s not as though I want Sheffield to fail. I was thrilled when the Tigers picked him up. Suffered along with everyone else as he began so slow in 2007, wanted to elect him DH-for-life as soon as he turned it on, got kicked in the gut when he injured himself.

    I understand that with a career like Sheffield has had, and the summer he had in 2007, you cut the guy some slack. But not infinite slack. At some point he will have to be held to team standards, not poor Gary is still hurting standards.

  24. rings

    June 17, 2008 at 11:34 am

    “Trumped” with his bat speed? Ugh.
    He’s starting his swing earlier to compensate for his declining reaction time. Result is: He can’t hold back most of the time b/c he’s so worried about his “bat speed.” He gets fooled more regularly on off-speed, he yanks the fastball foul and he rolls over the outside pitch.

    No thanks.

    He’s a DH road block that’s costing other, more productive players plate appearances and he’s almost never healthy. We’ve been saying “if he was…(healthy/hot/etc.)” for nearly two years now.

    My “40+” was referring to hanging on to him through the end of his deal. He’s still old, no matter if he’s 38, 39, 40, 41, etc. And, until the age of “extra help” no one has ever been as productive in their late thirties and early forties as a hitter as they were earlier in their career. He was a great hitter. He’s not anymore and he hasn’t been for three years. Even last year, cited by Kurt, was only .265/25/75. I’d hope for more from the three hole.

  25. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 11:37 am

    You know, they could try Sheffield leading off when he comes back. Granderson to #3, Guillen to #6. He does get on base, he does steal, he does run well (not sure if the injury changes these things), and it’s not his fault that that often went for nothing earlier in the year. I don’t think it would go for nothing now.

    Interesting new project to inspire Gary! I know, totally bogus theory.

  26. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Rings –

    Again, all his problems, and all the ones you mentioned can be atributed to injuries, not age.


    We’ve been saying “if he was…(healthy/hot/etc.)” for nearly two years now.


    That is incorrect, we’ve been saying that since July 21st of last year. For 3 months prior to that, he put up not just great numbers, but MVP numbers.

  27. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Sean: I proffered the Sheff for Leadoff theory a while back on account of his OBP numbers. Seems like it would make sense, albeit in an out-of-the-box kind of way. It would seem to make even more sense now with Grandy struggling lately.

  28. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 11:55 am

    I always love revisiting these numbers, just to reinforce the “Sheff was really, really good when he was healthy in ’07” notion.

    May: .321/.385/.642, 10 dingers
    June: .337/.450/.607, 6 taters
    July: .301/.391/.516, 5 round-trippers

    I think that’s why I’m willing to give him some leeway when he’s activated off the DL. Not infinite leeway, but leeway nonetheless. If he can get close to that production again this season, the AL Central will be sorry.

  29. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Chris – I agree, seeing Sheffield leadoff would be interesting. Even though many feel he’s ready for the retirement home, he’s still, at worst, the 2nd best baserunner on the team.

  30. Kathy

    June 17, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Shef is a great guy in the clubhouse and is well-liked according to many sources. He basically carried the team last year for about 2 months and then the injury happened. I’d love to see him in the lineup, but only if he’s healthy and can contribute. He’s not too old…….it’s the injuries that have kept him from performing. It would be a thrill to see the “old” Shef hitting HR’s and running the bases like only Shef can do, seeing him kick the dirt at homeplate toward the opposition’s dugout after scoring a run. He’s one of a kind.

  31. ez

    June 17, 2008 at 12:05 pm


    If you look at the last three years Sheffield was hot for only 3 months. Injuries have plagued him and his age doesn’t help help that. Sheffield is at an age where it is hard to come back. He managed three good months after his last injury plagued year in New York. As Rings has implied, post steroid era it is hard to come back at his age. His three year trajectory makes his great three months a blip and not something overly likely to re-occur. Though it could happen.

    Both of you are correct. Injury and age make Sheffield a dubious choice to DH and bat 3rd.

    Compounding that problem: his being coddled by management is not helping the team. Benching him will NOT keep him happy. And when Gary is not happy his mouth opens up and out comes The Stupid. And that doesn’t help the team.

    If Sheffield isn’t coddled, then he gets unhappy and out comes The Stupid.

    Sheffield by his actions and management deferment becomes bigger than the team. And that doesn’t help the club.

    This is a hornet’s nest and it will be the cause of much more debate.

    Kinda makes you long for the Inge Debate Days, doesn’t it?

  32. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    ez: Your points on Sheff are duly noted. On the other hand, I think that he has a lot of respect for Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski and due to that he’s less inclined to be an a-hole to everyone and their brother. And besides, if the team is winning, no one is going to be talking about vague terms like “chemistry” and “clubhouse cancer” and such.

  33. T Smith

    June 17, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    “…Sheffield has to be handled a certain way that no one else does – He must bat in “his” spot in the order…”

    Intuitively, I agree with this statement, based on what I know about Sheffield, as a personality. I’ve posted the same kind of comments many times before. But I’m not sure there is any actual evidence (of late) to support Sheffield as the big crying baby we all think he is. Alot of this might be just preceived and a created reality by the media/fanbase, based on the Sheff-on-his-high-horse as-the-predominant-hitter we’ve all come to know. Take out predominant hitter from the equation and you may have a much more humble player. If Leyland dared bat him ninth, I think he would honestly understand the move.

    And I don’t know what I’m on here today, but I’m gonna give Leyland the benefit of the doubt. When Sheffield comes back, no way he starts off batting third. He bats 6th in the lineup. Mark my words. Which is where he should be. I just have to give Leyland more credit than to even consider he would insert Sheffield into the 3 hole coming off this injury/slump stint.

    I like Guillen batting third and Thames behind Sheff.

    Sean C: Sheffield leading off isn’t all that crazy, though I doubt it will ever happen. I think Billfer even did some kind number cruching last year with various lineups, and the lineup with Sheff leading off produced the most runs.

    rings: you may very well be right about Sheffield being done. We should have an idea soon, before he takes one AB anywhere in the Tigers lineup. If he can’t mash in Lakeland, this discussion will heat up, for sure, and the organization will need to make some difficult decisions.

  34. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    “Sean: I proffered the Sheff for Leadoff theory”

    Chris, I knew it wasn’t an original idea on my part. Just couldn’t remember where I heard it first. The only thing I had against it at the time was that your leadoff guy has to do more than walk at least some of the time, and I think Sheffield was hitting in the mid-.100s.

    I wonder how Sheffield would respond to the leadoff role. It’s an important one. You certainly can’t complain about being the guy who’s going to get the most ABs. I mean, WE could, but he couldn’t.

    I like Guillen there more, but is that going to happen? No.

  35. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Guillen might make some sense as a leadoff hitter as well. I think the pink elephant we’re not mentioning (though I guess we are implying the hell out of it) is that Granderson should not be hitting leadoff, at least right now. He’s struggling mightily. Take some pressure off of him and move him down in the order already. If there was one negative I could come up with for Curtis, it would be that he seems to get into funks where he thinks too much and overanalyzes everything. Hence why he seems to be too ‘passive’ lately.

  36. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Totally agree Kathy.

  37. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Chris, thought it proves nothing, Guillen’s and Granderson’s HR/RBI are starting to converge suspiciously. Without analyzing it seriously, that would tell me I might like Granderson up with men on a little more often these days. And Guillen, with BA going up up up, could be one of those guys.

  38. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I’d vote for Sheff to bat 1st. His homerun power seems to be on the decline, but before he got hurt he was able to get base hits and plenty of walks.

  39. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Well, Granderson has been excellent with men on base (.344/.377/.484). Of course, so has Guillen (.333/.403/.435). You want either guy hitting with a chance to drive someone in. The big problem I’ve picked up on with Granderson is when he’s either a) leading off the game (.108/.154/.270) or b) leading off an inning (.185/.243/.431). That’s not exactly what you’re looking for in a leadoff guy, albeit in a fairly small sample. I have no idea how Guillen would fare as a leadoff hitter (he only has 15 career leadoff AB’s), but starting off an inning in ’08 he’s hitting a .298/.377/.574 clip. Of course until Sheffield returns, Guillen should always hit 3rd, but after GS is back maybe that would be something to think about. Could net the team a few extra runs.

  40. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I’m trying to figure out why Guillen hasn’t been quite the RBI machine we know and love so far. It appears at this point that men are on base significantly less often for him in 2008. Hmmm.

  41. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    He’s still on a pace for 80-90 RBI, which is what you’d expect. He’s only ever had one 100 RBI season. On a tangent: I hate it when people say RBI’s instead of RBI. It’s Runs Batted In, not Runs Batted In’s. Pet peeve.

  42. Carolyn

    June 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Guillen, then, should bat 5th, behind Cabrera and Ordonez. He’ll have more RBI opportunities for sure.
    I still think the 3-spot is where Gil should be (I would say he had pretty decent success there as a Marlin.) Batting behind Ordonez could only benefit him, and Cabrera batting 5th has 3 disadvantages:
    1. Gives him less at-bats
    2. Less protection behind him
    3. Less likely that he will score. When a guy has close to a .400 career OBP, you want someone behind him who can knock him in.

    Try it, Leyland!

  43. rings

    June 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Chris – I guess that’s the major point of disagreement. I think Sheff respects no one but himself. He’s the poster-child for a “me first” ballplayer. If you can’t look at his entire career – and the franchises he’s departed – and see that, then we’ll agree to disagree (no sense in posting a laundry list here). Because he’s playing for us now, doesn’t make him any less of a selfish jerk that he’s been in other cities.
    All other issues flow from this point: his pride to bat in the middle of the order, wanting to play the field (or refuse to play 1B), opening his mouth for no reason, management deferring to him, etc.
    I’ve long said that guys like him (and Bonds, etc.) will have a place in the game so long as they’re uber-productive, but you’ll never be mourned/missed by your team, fans, city, etc. once they’re gone (like a Trammell, Ripken, Gwynn, etc.).
    He was a great player (not neccesarily a great guy) in his prime. But he isn’t any more, his age will make it very difficult for him to stay healthy/productive.
    Lots of guys are “hot” for a couple months and to cite two or three hot months as being worth it over the past three years is not very compelling, particularly when we can point to MANY more months where he’s been awful.
    IMO he isn’t worth the trouble, particularly at the expense of getting ABs to others (Thames primarily – who also was carrying the team last year in July before his hamstring injury and again right now) and “DH-rest starts” to guys like Maggs & Guillen.

    Good discussion topic, Bilfer.

  44. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Hey Chris D, I’ve wondered where you’ve been lately.
    I’m done with freep forums, too much of a lynch mob mentality over there.

    I was searching the internet and found this site. It’s good to see that their are many level headed Tiger fans here.

  45. Joey the K in Portland OR

    June 17, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    T Smith I agree with you, do we really have any evidence that Sheff would not accept batting lower in the order and would cause problems about it? If all indications are he is a great team mate, those two things don’t seem to mesh. And Gary knows he’s been sucking this year. But I must admit, when Larish comes up to bat lately I find myself wondering when Sheff will be back. And I’m all for Gary with a chip hitting some HROOS’s!

  46. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Chief: Yeah these are good folks over here. billfer has better content than Sharp, Lowe and Albom combined…

  47. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I think the problem is people don’t have any patience for Sheff to come around. He’s only had around 130 ab’s this season. That’s only about a months worth of ab’s for someone like Granderson.

    Back in 80’s we picked up Darrell Evans. He stunk his 1st season at Detroit as the primary DH. We played him more at 1b the following season and he hit a ton better. He started the season slow, only had 1 hr in April, but he finished the season with 40 hrs. He hit 28 of those homers after June 15.

    All I ask is give Sheff a 2nd chance. He’s a proven HOF caliber slugger that deserves a 2nd chance. I’ll be wearing my chef hat when he starts hitting again, that’s for sure.

  48. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    rings: We can agree to disagree on Sheffield. Truth be told, neither of us are in the clubhouse so we have no idea what he’s actually like in there. He definitely seemed like a class A douche bag in his younger days (making errors on purpose in Milwaukee and whatnot), but he’s probably matured at least a little bit since then. Either way, if he comes back hitting I’d be happy.

  49. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I was just reading some of the earlier posts here. ez gets a Gold Star for using “mollycoddling” in a sentence. Good form, sir.

  50. tiff

    June 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Carolyn, I appreciate you looking out for what’s best for Gil.

  51. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Chris, regarding the RBIs pet peeve, your HROOS is already being abused.

    It’s easy to slip into saying RBIs, is for me, anyway. It’s so often said it can be considered acceptable on the basis of usage. But I know what you mean. I wish people would stop calling sherBET sherBERT (aaaaargh), but my one man campoaign has had little impact to date.

    Also, one might say that RBI could also stand for Run Batted In, and that the plural was Run Batted Ins. Because we would not say “Renteria had 1 runs batted in last night.” It should be changed to BIR so that we can use either BIR or BIRs, and I will suggest this to the powers that be as soon as I’m asked. Or as soon as I see them. Or as soon as I know who they are.

    Also (again), there is no call for apostrophes with plurals (RBI’s, CD’s, etc.). Very common, incorrect.

  52. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    IMO, Thames is just as likely to hurt himself again playing LF as Sheff is. I’d like to see Sheff/Thames platooned in LF/DH and have a defensive sub come in to replace either of them later in the games.

    My line-up-

    LF/DH Sheff
    2b Polanco
    3b Guillen
    RF Ordonez
    1b Cabrera
    LF/DH Thames
    CF Granderson
    SS Renteria
    C Pudge/Inge platoon

    I like the Pudge/Inge platoon so far, it’s worked good for both of them.

  53. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    “Carolyn, I appreciate you looking out for what’s best for Gil.”

    I was surprised she knew some of the other Tigers players names.

    Kidding, Carolyn. Mostly.

  54. yak

    June 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    At least we signed Freddy Garcia?!?!

  55. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    It must be a kind of law that any post with nitpicks about language must include several typos and misspellings, not to mention bad punctuation and grammar.

    I’m talking about mine.

  56. Carolyn

    June 17, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Ouch! 😉
    My point was, Cabrera batting 3rd would be best for the team, IMO. If he is at his most productive in the 3-hole, the Tigers would benefit as well, would they not?

  57. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Sean: I like it when my made up statistics make their way into the common vernacular. Yes, that was just a cheap ploy to use ‘vernacular’ in a sentence. Anyway, I’m on board with your one man ‘campoaign’ aganist sherBERT. Consider it a two man crusade.

  58. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Yeah, Carolyn, I like Cabrera at #3, too. That’s the way it was to start off 2008, I believe. Guillen or Cabrera at #3 or #5 is kind of a wash to me. I’d like to see Granderson tried at #3 just to satisfy my own mad, experimental mind.

  59. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Konerko is on the DL. That’s the 1st real injury the White Sox have had all season. They haven’t had to make a roster move to their hitting/defense/bench all season. They had a nice injury free run. The tide has turned for them. I don’t think they’ll be a .500 team for the rest of the season. They have a tougher schedule for the rest of the way.

  60. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Chris: Everything you say these days is making it into the common vernacular! I’m glad to see that my very own “campoaign” is catching on, though. At least with you.

    Thanks for joining the fight against sherBERT. It’s people like you who keep hope alive that the cure will be discovered within our lifetime.

  61. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Yes, I forgot about Garcia. Why were we even debating Sheffield? Seems silly now.

  62. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    OK I must be missing something here. I saw that the Tigers showed interest in Freddy Garcia, but not that they actually signed him. Care to elaborate? Which brings to mind a funny story. Last year I went to the Tigers/Phillies series at Citizens Bank Park (a well timed Fathers Day series – got to visit Dad and see the Tigers in one shot, but I digress), and one of the vendors was selling postcards with the Phillies players on them. His sales pitch “Get your postcard sets. All of your favorite Phillies. And Freddy Garcia.” I guess you had to hear his delivery – it was priceless.

  63. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Even the Yanks don’t want Garcia, even with Wang gone for the rest of the year (or September).

  64. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Chief: I also anticipate that Jose Contreras will start pitching like, well, Jose Contreras and Danks/Floyd will have some sort of regression. The White Sox are definitely catchable. Cleveland’s a bit of a mess with injuries and everything. And I don’t think Minnesota’s all that great either. So the division is there for the taking if the Tigers could actually live up to their potential for an extended stretch.

  65. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Oh. never mind. I was thinking of Freddy/Freddie Gonzalez, not Garcia. Garcia was good in 2005. I take it he’s not so good anymore.

  66. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Garcia would be good if his rotator cuff didn’t resemble shredded beef.

  67. Matt in Toledo

    June 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Regarding the RBI vs. RBIs debate, I have to say I’ve never heard people refer to multiple weapons of mass destruction as WMD, and I’ve never heard POW used to describe prisoners of war.

    So, I suppose if you say, “They never found the WMD in Iraq” and “I wish we could bring home all the POW” then you have a case for RBI over RBIs.

    Sorry if that seems snippy. I’ve just been “corrected” over that one a few too many times. It’s funny but – and it’s not the case here I don’t think – it’s usually by people who type things like “could of” or “not they’re fault”, etc.

  68. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Mmmm. Shredded beef.

    Come here, Freddy…

  69. Ryan

    June 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Given that the phrase is “Runs Batted In”, the correct acronymization (now THAT’S a word) to carry the implication of difference from a single run batted in would be RsBI. Being that that is cumbersome, RBI is a good second choice. To my knowledge, RsBI is the most correct solution.

    On the other hand, RBI/RBIs/RsBI is kind of a worthless stat anyway, so maybe the ideal solution is just to not talk about them.

    My pet peeve: One piece of information is a datum, not a data. Data is the plural.

  70. Joel in Seattle

    June 17, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    The attempts to draw correlation between Sheffield being out of the lineup and the team’s recent success strike me as a bit silly.

    While the offense has somewhat emerged from its funk, the difference has been the starting pitching. The starters’ ERA has declined from 5.46 in March/April to 4.67 in May to 3.48 in June.

    While the bullpen has tried hard to offset those improvements, seems like pitching has been the difference lately. Sheffield’s absence hasn’t had much to do with that.

  71. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm


    You could of just said its they’re perogative.

  72. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 4:50 pm


    I’m not saying you’re completely wrong, but don’t underestimate what a black hole Sheffield was batting #3. Look at the game logs. It’s ungodly.

    EDIT: I mean the play by play accounts of games he was in, not just game logs for Sheffield.

  73. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    No, Ryan, I think my BIR solution is still the most sensible. I suggest you review your datums.

  74. Joel in Seattle

    June 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Oh, I think Sheffield batting 3rd was a problem – that was obvious as long as he was playing.

    But the team OPS in April was actually slightly higher than it’s been this month. The pitchers have been keeping the team in games, and the hitters have been scoring runs more consistently, rather than going on binges. Some of that consistency is probably owed to having a more productive hitter in the 3-slot.

    I guess I object to the attempt to say that the improvement has been due to Shef’s absence from the clubhouse. I can’t see anything to support that. You might as well say that the team has benefited from Bonderman being out of the clubhouse, since they’ve been on a tear since he left.

  75. judpma

    June 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    IF IF If If If if iF any way you put it ..if he is healthy put him in the 6 spot and lets see what he can do…these are his months…..

  76. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Why hasn’t anyone said that since Santiago got hurt the Tigers started winning more games. Or that since Joyce got sent down the Tigers have played better.

    Sheff is just the best target to blame things on.

  77. David

    June 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Keep him on the DL, he’s a bum, they’ll find the hot hand in Jeff, Ryan, Clete, Brent or the flavor of the month at Toledo (why hasn’t Mike been called up?

  78. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Matt in Toledo: How dare you impugn my grammar! JK. Another pet peeve – when people say “in this day of age”. That really grinds my gears. This is why Rod Allen makes me want to throw up. Also, using the word “irregardless” flips me out. End rant.

  79. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 5:23 pm


    I agree, and the point about better pitching was and is well taken.

  80. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Chris, I’ve never heard “this day of age.” Too funny. I might start using it.

  81. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Sean wrote:

    Agreed, Greg. I’d be equally happy if they released him today and made it a moot point so they could get on with better projects than making the lineup a test lab for him.

    Bat speed is wonderful. How long do you wait for it to translate into hits when a guy’s 40+? And why is Sheffield consistently given a pass in terms of “if only he was healthy, he would hit”? Players do lose it.

    I think you misunderstood my point, I don’t think he should be given a pass. But people act like it would be a shock if he was productive again. That’s just silly. Guillen bending over for ground balls(like he has the past 2 weeks)….not THAT’S shocking. My only point was that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did start producing.

    Of course players do lose it(I’m guessing that you mean skills deterioration due to old age, not the Milton Bradley type thing) but, I need to see at least SOME evidence of skills detoriation before I believe that’s whats happening. Just looking at his birthdate and low batting avg. isn’t evidence to me. What I’m seeing is strong evidence that he’s not healthy, but that he could produce big time if he was.

    I don’t think they should make a lineup a test lab for him either. How long should they wait for the bat speed to translate to production…..I don’t think you should be prejudice against someone because of their age, so I’d wait just as long I you for anyone else who has MVP type production as their upside. If he had a slow bat, that would be a different story because it would be evidence that age IS catching up to him.

  82. Mark in Chicago

    June 17, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    ‘irregardless’ drives me nuts too. It’s not a word, and I don’t care if it’s in the dictionary.

  83. greg

    June 17, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Maybe we should start saying


  84. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Sheff was hitting a ton better when he started lifting his front leg up more to time the pitches.

  85. Joel in Seattle

    June 17, 2008 at 5:59 pm


    ‘s doesn’t denote plurality… that’s one of my pet peeves. And probably what you were going for. 🙂

  86. Chris in Dallas

    June 17, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Looking ahead @ some of the pitching matchups for the week…Jonathan Sanchez tonight. He’s tough. (Feel free to insert ‘Dirty Sanchez’ jokes here…) Zito tomorrow afternoon. Only 6 1/2 years and $100 million left, Giants fans. The Tigs will miss Peavy in San Diego, and instead draw the three-headed hydra of Baek-Maddux-Wolf. That’s good. After what they did to Park, it’s obvious that they offer no quarter to Koreans, so the Baek start should be a win. Maddux could be tough, or he could give up 10 runs in 3 innings (this is the life of a 40+ pitcher). Wolf is a lefty, so that bodes well. Be warned, though, cuz he can hit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’ll go 4-1 over the next 5…

  87. tiff

    June 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    or you could just say “risbee.”

  88. Sean C. in Illinois

    June 17, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Took me while to get that, tiff. I was thinking you posted a comment for another thread on this one. I’m slow.

    BIR has the advantage of using the built-in ambiguity of the R in RBI – is it run? is it runs? – to advantage. Whether you say BIR or BIRs, you can’t go wrong. Plus, it could be pronounced “beer,” always a good thing.

    And if y’all can’t go for that, I say we go metric and straighten all those old statistics out. I’m tired of earned and unearned. Runs are runs. I want RPG to replace ERA. And instead of R and RBI, I want SR (Scored Runs) and DR (Driven Runs). In fact, combine the two to be one simple RC (Runs Created) I want K and BB out of here, replaced with simple S and W. I’m not interested in AB and batting averages – out! PA, H, W, RC, and OBP/SLG/OPS. Yeah.

    I am your Reform Party candidate.

  89. Mike R

    June 17, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Too many things to try to respond to but for me: I’m fine so long as he’s not languishing in the 3rd spot. that was my biggest point of contention. You can semi-get away with someone being awful in the 8th or 9th spots. But Sheffield, even with the spread between his average and his OBP, was KILLING the lineup in the 3rd spot.

  90. billfer

    June 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Homer and 2 walks for Sheffield so far tonight.

  91. Chief Monday

    June 17, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    atta boy sheff. hope he keeps it up.

  92. ez

    June 17, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    If we are still talking about pet peeves, then throw in how many people get ‘decimate’ wrong. Decimate used to mean to destroy 1/10 of. In fact this misunderstanding has become so widespread that the dictionary changed it to mean either completely destroy or the secondary term of to destroy 1/10 of. Overuse by quasi intelligent media has given this term a whole new meaning….

    I’d rather listen to the lot speaking here than the meanderings of the media any day.

  93. judpma

    June 20, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I see Sheff is 1 for Lakeland…looks ready to me…he did that here