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As a rookie with the Brewers, Gary Sheffield once threw a ball over his first baseman's head, then said he had done so to make a point. Nine years later, the Florida outfielder has matured quite a bit, but a steady stream of whines, bitches and yelps still emanates from the area in front of his locker. On a team that gave away so many of its stars, Sheffield is bound to get frustrated. But if the Marlins hope to maintain respectability, Sheffield must do better than the 21 home runs, 71 RBIs of '97. Yet more important, he must not complain to reporters about not getting any respect more than three times.
What They Needed: A really, really rich owner who wants to win. Players over the age of six. Fans who don't mind paying major league prices for minor league players.
What They Got: Slugging prospect Derrek Lee from San Diego and eight or nine other guys you don't have to worry about for three or four years.
What it All Means: A one-year dynasty is vaporized. O.K., for the final time: Kurt Abbott, Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Jeff Conine, Dennis Cook, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Devon Whitesold to the highest bidder. Florida can still probably be respectable in the wobbly NL East, but gutting a World Series winner and restocking with prospects represents all that's bad in baseball.
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