Monday, July 16, 2007

It Is Turning Out To Be A Brilliant Move

Sometimes you’re right. Sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes you’re, well, in-between.
I have to admit I was wrong in my initial assessment in the Tigers trade for Gary Sheffield.
At the time, it seemed to me be a knee-jerk reaction to what transpired in the World Series, and played into the hands of the Yankees, who are copying the Tigers’ pattern by trying to horde young pitching.
And I didn’t like what I saw from Sheffield during the American League Division Series. He was awful at the plate, and even worse in the field during an ill-fated attempt to play first base.
Seemed to me, at 38, he was on the downside. I couldn’t been more off base.
He is a truly great player. I didn’t realize how great until the Tigers got him. It’s not just his bat speed, which is extraordinary, but also his all-around game. He is an excellent base runner with very good instincts. When I was with the team in Atlanta, he started in left field every day and made several good plays. He is solid outfielder with a good arm.
There is also this aspect of him playing mad. There is an extra surge he seems to get emotionally that puts him over the top as a player. I don’t agree with most of what he has said recently, but it hasn’t hurt the Tigers at all. If anything, the extra spotlight has only made Sheffield play better.
If you look at the Tigers this year compared to last year, they are dramatically better offensively. Some of that comes from improvement from within. Curtis Granderson, for example, has just gotten better through hard work and experience.
But the greatest impact has come with the addition of Sheffield. He has been brilliant. Considering Humberto Sanchez is out for the season with an elbow problem, the trade couldn’t have worked out better. It’s turning out to be another gem by general manager Dave Dombrowski.

Random Thoughts

- Watching the Tigers cuff around Jeff Weaver Sunday makes you wonder why they had so much trouble with him during the World Series. In two starts against the Tigers this season, Weaver has allowed 13 earned runs and 20 hits in 10 innings. The Tigers are hitting .426 against him. He had a 2.77 ERA in two starts vs. the Tigers in the World Series.

- This is the honest-to-God truth. I had a dream last night that the Tigers faced the Cubs in the World Series. Wouldn’t that be something? Wonder how Tram would feel about that?

- I talked to Cameron Maybin for a long time at the Futures Game in San Francisco. He is a poised kid for his age with a pretty good idea about where he is going. If you’re worried about what will happen when he arrives in the major leagues, don’t. He would move to a corner outfield spot without a peep. Granderson is a mentor to him. Talks to him all the time. Ultimately leadership will be one of Granderson’s best qualities. You can tell how his attitude and work ethic have rubbed off on Maybin.

10 Comments:

Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

I sat down the first base line in May and watched Sheffield play Right for Mags against the Cards. It was the Sunday game.

Sheffield was brilliant and having a ton of fun. He slid for two basket catches- like a kid showing off. I said back then that Sheffield needs time in the field.

I believe he slumped at the start because of no fielding time.

Perhaps there is something in Mag's contract that says he is the right fielder - I don't know - but I bet they could platoon that. There is a combo eh? One DH's when the the other is in Right.

Get Leyland on the phone. Use your red "hot" line.

The more I hear and read about Maybin, the more excited I get. It's amazing to think another super-star potential will be joining us soon. I'm not a Monroe basher ... but ...

Cubs and Tigers. Scary. We would be non-existant in the media's eye (except for yours of course). It would be the Cubs in the World Series. Even if we won it, it would be the World Series the Cubs lost.

Once I flew from Detroit to Toronto on a puddle jumper with Isiah Thomas. He was very nice actually. I joked to him I didn't like to fly with him? He looked at me concerned and aked why?

"If this plane goes down, no one will even know I was on it" I replied - "It will be the crash that killed Isiah Thomas".

Luckily he laughed - and yes, it was before 9/11.

Same is true if we play the Cubs in the World Series.

That's my thinking anyways.

12:17 PM 
Blogger Moondogg said...

Hey Pat,
Here's a (hopefully) fun question to ponder. Let's fast-forward to the year 2010 for a second. You've got 3 top-notch, young centerfields in Granderson, Maybin and this kid Gorkys Hernandez.
Who plays where?
(Nice "problem" facing the Tigs there, eh?~)

1:48 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

Book, I'm with you most of the way about Sheffield. I just wish that this great player could go with the flow. His personality is making him start his own fires. The timing of the latest comments are curious at best and I really respect Joe Torre for taking the high road on this one. Anger can fuel the fire of a great athlete, but it must be balanced off by the ability to politic and stand mute at times. This guy needs to talk to a professional, but I'm glad that he's on my hometown team... he's like everyone's deranged little brother that would ultimately die to protect you.

2:52 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I wouldn't say you were really wrong about Sheffield. All last year if you check out your old blogs. We kept knocking it out. Man If we could only stick a solid stick in front of or in back of Maggs this lineup would be completely different. Sheffield got off to a slow start, which had us all wonder if we got the washed up version, but like most detroiters we jumped the gun. He not only made Maggs better, he really has eased some preasure of everyone.

Listening to you on the Inferno today. Who gives a crap about the lions. Who gives a crap if they sign redding. They will still Suck. Ok fine they will win 4 to 5 games. How can we even judge. Especially with that defense. Nobody knows how good Stanley Wilson is going to be until at least 5 games into the season when see some consistency. What happens when Fernando goes down after the first play again. We have no solid secondary. We could of added a kerney and even a Donavan Darius. They would have served until the young guys can prove themselves. The lions will show some bright spots but bright spots don't matter any more. Don't worry Phillies The Lions won't be long behind you and they only play 16 games a year.

3:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Good point about the Tigers and Cubs. I never thought of it that way, but it is true. It would be as if the Tigers weren't even in the thing. I also agree about Sheffield at the start of the season. At the time, I didn't believe it, but not playing in the field had to be a difficult adjustment. And you might be right, he might be a better outfielder Gary Sheffield.
Caputo

4:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Moondog,
To me, Granderson has to stay in center field. He has gotten that good. After that, it depends on arm strength. Whoever has the better arm between Hernandez and Maybin should go to right.
Caputo

4:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
The Lions don't get nearly the same amount of attention they did a few years ago. It's not only because they are't as good as they were during the 1990s when people had genuine hope for them, but because the Tigers have stolen a lot of their thunder. Sheffield is more than a solid stick in the middle of the lineup. He's been one of the best hitters in baseball since May forward.
Caputo

4:25 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
The thing is, he hasn't really hurt the Tigers yet. But there might be a point where his outspoken ways haunt the Tigers. And I do feel bad for Torre. When Kenny Lofton said what he did about it, it was piling on for no reason other than his own ax to grind.
Caputo

4:28 PM 
Blogger Trevor said...

One thing about Sheffield not playing in the outfield:

He seems to have harnessed that saved energy into being the Tigers' best baserunner. Who saw that coming?

Great topic and conversation, as always.

5:14 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Trevor,
To be truthful, not me. But he is a great base runner. Smart and certainly not slow.
Caputo

5:33 PM 

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