Sheffield Should Be Grateful to Leyland, Designated Hitter Rule

Gary Sheffield is one lucky character.  He gets paid $14 million a year to play baseball at the post-prime age of 39.  He gets to rest between at-bats because of the American League’s designated hitter rule.  Despite his lackluster performance, his manager still includes him in the lineup for almost every game.  At his current pace this season, Sheffield will get paid about $1 million for every home run he hits.  How could he possibly have anything to complain about?

Damn if he didn’t find a way.  Sheffield was quoted earlier this week in The Boston Globe saying how much he dislikes his role as designated hitter and that he wants to play in the outfield.  Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was “flabbergasted” because Sheffield was well aware of Detroit’s intention to use him as a DH — and discussed it with him prior to his signing.

It seems to me that Sheffield is turning on the two reasons he has such a great job: Jim Leyland and the designated hitter rule.

If anything, Sheffield should be praising both.  He should be thankful that he plays for a manager who is willing to be patient with his rehabilitation and the fact that he has lost some bat speed and hasn’t produced.  He should be thankful that a stupid rule recognized by only half of Major League teams enables him to still collect $14 million a year way past his prime.  Somewhere down the line Sheffield has lost touch with reality.

How many times this season did Sheffield start while home run machine Marcus Thames sat the bench?  How many times did Sheffield start while red-hot Matt Joyce was instructed to have a seat?  If anything, Sheffield has been give more than his fair share of opportunities — not less.

At this point, I believe it would be best if the Tigers parted ways with Sheffield.  Placing him on waivers is a step in the right direction.