Sullen slugger has only himself to blame for plight
Posted: Wednesday November 1, 2006 7:52AM; Updated: Wednesday November 1, 2006 11:12AM
One thing is for sure: Gary Sheffield won't be back at first base for the Yankees next season.
Also in this column: Maddux wants two more years Biggio may sign soon Two manager favorites More news and notes
Much to Gary Sheffield's public dismay, the Yankees have determined they will either trade him to a team that will exercise his $13 million option, or exercise that bargain option themselves.
Not that there's any chance he'll remain a Yankee. Sheffield has lost his spot in right field to Bobby Abreu and surely worn out his welcome with his latest round of whining about his two favorite subjects: cash and contracts.
One very likely scenario remains that the Yankees will trade Sheffield for a quality reliever, mid-level starter or prospect package that satisfies them before they have to exercise the option by the end of this week, and the Cubs, Astros, Orioles and White Sox, among others, have shown interest. But the second real possibility has the Yankees picking up the option by Monday if only to give them more time to find the right trade. Yankees people suffered a setback when Sheffield started squawking last week in the press, threatening to make trouble if he doesn't get his freedom, or if he doesn't get his extension.
In reality, there's nothing Sheffield can do about any of this short of retiring, which we all know he's not about to do, not with more moolah to be made, plus 500 home runs in sight (he's at 455) and a chance for Cooperstown (though he won't get my vote -- between the steroid connection and the constant complaints that have dominated the last part of his career). He can hit, but he remains one predictable piece of work. He has become the embodiment of a caricature of a greedy ballplayer. Sheffield was upset in spring because the Yankees weren't picking up the option. Now he's upset because they are.
If he's unhappy with anyone, it should be his agent. Oh, that's right, he's the smart guy who negotiated his own bad deal, the one with just three years on it, a lot of deferred money, no no-trade clause and no buyout money. So while Alfonso Soriano is on the market for about $90 million or so and Carlos Lee will cash in for about $70 million, Sheffield looks like a major bargain, albeit a chatty, contentious bargain.
Maybe someone reminded him that this is his deal, the one he was so proud to make. Because this week he's been oddly silent. Yankees people are hoping that maybe the recent silence will help their chances to get what they want, which is a fair deal. As one Yankees person said, hopefully, "He's shot his [bullets]. There's nothing more he can do."
They hope, anyway.
Maddux, Biggio may stay put
Two 40-year-old players who should be bound for Cooperstown are talking to their teams about new deals. Hall of Fame lock Greg Maddux and the Dodgers are discussing a return, with the team suggesting a one-year deal and Maddux, who has 333 career wins, looking for a two-year contract. Maddux, 40, was the player that helped put the Dodgers into the playoffs when he was acquired from the Cubs at the trade deadline, and he loved it there. So the guess here is that they work it out, one way or the other. Friends thought Maddux was miserable enough with the Cubs that he might call it quits after 2006. That's obviously changed.
Craig Biggio, who feels he gave the Astros a hometown discount the last few years to accommodate the team's bigger expenditures (i.e. his good buddy Jeff Bagwell's contract, not to mention Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte), was offered a raise from his $4 million 2006 salary. Biggio and the Astros are expected to work things out fairly quickly, perhaps even in time for Biggio to avoid filing for free agency, which he can do within the next 10 days. He's always been one of those loyal guys who wanted to stay in Houston, so it's hard to imagine him leaving now that he's about to turn 41.