Meanwhile, both Sports Illustrated and Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus have damning articles today suggesting that Gary Sheffield may be deliberately taking his sweet time coming back from his wrist injury, reading the writing on the wall from the Bobby Abreu signing and saving himself for a new team next year. Carroll writes,
I've been hearing whispers, over and over from disparate and independent sources, that Sheffield was slowing his rehab deliberately, feeling no pressure to return. "He says he's not needed," one source told me, "and that he's got to worry more about next year than this year." Several people I spoke with that have knowledge of his rehab process claim that Sheffield shouldn't be behind Hideki Matsui. "[Matsui']s busted his [rear] and [Sheffield] is negotiating his contract. He talks more to his agents than he does the trainers."In his SI piece, Jon Heyman wonders why Yankees fans aren’t angry about this, whereas they’re only too eager to vent their rage at, say, certain former MVPs who are having off-years but trying their hardest.
I’m not too upset about the Sheffield situation myself, for the very simple reason that I don’t really want Gary Sheffield to come back. Don’t get me wrong – he’s a great and intimidating hitter, and he earned his money the past two years. That said, Melky Cabrera, while certainly not a hitter of Sheffield's caliber (yet), is roughly 10 times more fun to watch, easier to root for, and not that much more than half his age. You can see just by looking at him how much he loves playing, which is more than I could ever say for Sheffield, who has been scowling without pause since I was seven years old. If Sheffield comes back, Cabrera would be forced to the bench, and given what he’s done for the Yankees this season, that just doesn't feel right. It’s going to be hard enough finding room in the outfield for everyone when Matsui returns (a guy who, if you’ll recall, actually apologized for breaking his wrist while trying to make a difficult play -- after which, I might add, he threw the ball back in. Can you imagine an American player doing that? It’s a struggle just to get out athletes to apologize for beating their wives on the street).
So if Sheffield wants to go slow, I’m not going to protest. The fact that both writers cite seemingly knowledgeable sources makes me wonder whether the Yankees are deliberately leaking this information, preparing their fans for the fairly inevitable decision to not extend Sheff’s contract. I wouldn't put it past Brian Cashman, who I'm more and more convinced is some kind of evil genius. And I mean that as a compliment.
In other news: doubtless not for the first time in his life, what Jason Giambi has is catching. I’m referring here to his now-famous porn ‘stache, which has spread to, at last count, Ron Villone, Johnny Damon, and Jaret Wright. I’m all for team bonding, but this is having an unfortunate influence over some of my male Yankee fan acquaintances. Boys, it’s a sad truth that in our society professional athletes can get away with a lot of things that regular citizens can’t, from speeding to, say, lying in front of a Grand Jury; and I’m afraid this is one of those scenarios. They should run a disclaimer before games: civilians, at least those without accepting and understanding wives, should be careful about trying this at home. Honestly, Ron Villone probably should too.