It’s not possible to be mathmatically eliminated from post-season contention on the 7th of July, but yesterday’s discouraging words from Omar Minaya about the conditions of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, coupled with the free-falling Mets’ utter capitulation to the Dodgers at Citi Field, left many with the distinct impression there’s little hope on the horizon where the 2009 season is concerned. With 2010 firmly in mind, Mack’s Mets has a number of propositions for Minaya (ie. trading Livan Hernandez and Brian Schnieder, cutting Tim Redding) along with advising, “Play Gary Sheffield until his legs fall off.” That last suggestion might fly with Newsday’s Ken Davidoff who warns those who expect the Mets to shop their 40 year old outfielder, “if you’ve followed Sheffield’s long, illustrious, occasionally scandalous career, you know that it wouldn’t be that simple.”
“There’s a lot that has to happen for me to leave here,” Sheffield told Midweek Insider yesterday. “Because, at the end of the day, I’m not going to go where I don’t want to go. Everything has to be right for me at this point, for me to do it.”
If you’re not familiar with Sheffield’s personality but are familiar with labor law, you might read that and say, “Huh? Sheffield doesn’t have a no-trade clause! He doesn’t get to dictate where he goes!”
In Sheffield’s universe, however, those are mere technicalities.
“Oh yeah. I’m always in the driver’s seat when it comes to my career,” Sheffield said. “Either I play, or I don’t. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. But I’m not going to play where I don’t want to play.”
It was that Detroit extension that ultimately brought Sheffield to his uncle Dwight Gooden’s Mets. The Tigers ate the $14 million they owed Sheffield, releasing him at the end of spring training. And while Detroit occupies first place in the American League Central, it could use the bat and on-base skills that Sheffield has displayed with the Mets, at age 40. His 10 homers, .389 on-base percentage and .489 slugging percentage have been a godsend for the Mets’ woeful lineup.
“I said all along, when I’m healthy, I can do it,” Sheffield said. “I just never was healthy the latter of my time in Detroit. You look at my numbers, my first year , they were better than anybody’s. After the [right knee] injury, I had to fight to get back to this point.”