Tag:Gary Sheffield
Posted on: May 18, 2009 9:39 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2009 10:12 pm
 

What's in store for Mets without Delgado

LOS ANGELES -- The New York Mets say they're not going to panic while Carlos Delgado is gone for what could be two months or more. They say they're going to use a combination of Fernando Tatis and Jeremy Reed at first base with maybe a little Daniel Murphy thrown in.

And that's all well and good.

Until the Mets, leading the NL East by half-a-game over Philadelphia heading into Monday night's games, hit one of those infamous valleys they've had a habit of slipping into over the past few summers. Then all bets are off.

"The team is playing well," says Tony Bernazard, the Mets' vice-president for player development. "As long as we continue to play well, I don't see any need to make changes."

Question is, are these Mets (21-16) capable of continuing to win at a .568 clip without Delgado?

That's a question that will come with a multi-layered answer over the next several days and weeks:

 Gary Sheffield, 40, will see more playing time in the immediate future, and for the Mets' sake, that cannot come with diminishing returns. He was hitting .254 with a .390 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBI in 31 games heading into Monday night's. For a guy who looked nearly finished in Detroit, he's shown some life at the plate. But what's the shelf-life of that if he plays every day?

"These are the things we have to find out, and we don't know until we go through a stretch of games in a row without off days," Mets manager Jerry Manuel says.

Short-term, expect Sheffield to serve as designated hitter some this weekend in Boston when interleague play begins.

 Manuel's managing acumen will be tested. Because he's going to have to find the right combination of pushing Sheffield with more playing time than anybody originally planned, but by pulling back if Sheffield tires, his swing slows or his body begins to ache.

"I'm going to have to manage him," Manuel acknowledges.

The Mets like Sheffield in the middle of their lineup because, even though they acknowledge he's not the hitter he once was, he's a presence. That helps make up for the presence they've lost in Delgado (.298, four homers, 23 RBI).

 Now is a good time for third baseman David Wright, 26, to step up and lead. Wright's place in the Mets' clubhouse hierarchy has been debated before in his development. It's reached the point where it should be his team, but when longer-tenured and older veterans like Delgado are around, that's easier said than done.

Now, with a clear void, does Wright step into it?

"That's a good question," Manuel says. "I think you want a guy in the infield taking charge. It's difficult to do that from center field. To be a third baseman and out there every day performing, it's definitely a good opportunity. And I think I've seen some of that (already)."

 Wright, Carlos Beltran and shortstop Jose Reyes have to be careful not to try and make up for the loss of Delgado by themselves, but they need to produce.

"Of the two Carloses, Reyes and Wright, we've always wanted two of the four of them hot," Manuel says. "Now we want two of the three hot. As long as it's still two. ..."

 As for the first base combo, the right-handed Tatis and the lefty Reed should get most of the playing time at the bag. Tatis, 34, has been impressive so far: .308 and a .365 OBP in 23 games (65 at-bats). Reed, 27, is hitting .357 with a .400 OBP in 32 games (28 at-bats).

Murphy's time at first likely will depend on how much time Sheffield spends in the outfield and how Tatis and Reed are doing at first. While none of the three is a natural first baseman, that doesn't bother Manuel.

"We made a real good run last year with people not at their natural positions," he says. "We had two third basemen in the outfield (Tatis and Murphy) and they responded well."

 If things to falter and the Mets look to the outside for a trade, two names already floated are Baltimore's Aubrey Huff and Washington's Nick Johnson.

For now, the Mets will find out what they're made of.

They hope the answer is more positive than when they faced that same question in each of the past two seasons.

Posted on: March 4, 2008 4:53 pm
 

Detroit Rock City

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michigan's 7.5 percent unemployment rate this winter is the highest in the country. Since 2006, more than 70,000 homes have been foreclosed in Detroit alone. And property values are down nearly 20 percent.

Yet after the Detroit Tigers traded for shortstop Edgar Renteria, third baseman Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis this winter, they sold so many season tickets that they eventually halted sales to make sure last year's season ticketholders didn't get shut out.

And, incredibly, when the Tigers put 2008 individual game tickets on sale Saturday, they sold 80,000 in the first two hours, 176,000 over the first eight hours and 192,000 by noon Sunday.
 
Baseball is back in Detroit, maybe just when folks needed it most.

And the Tigers themselves absolutely have noticed.

"It's one of the best sports towns I've ever been in," slugger Gary Sheffield says. "I didn't know that much about it. But they're the most passionate fans I've ever seen."

Center fielder Curtis Granderson, beginning his third full season with the Tigers, shakes his head in awe at the number of tickets that are flying off of the shelves for '08.

He knows it's because these Tigers are loaded, and he believes there's another reason, too.

"I think it's the fact that we play hard," he says. "It's a hard-working area, and I think people are like, 'Hey, I'm working hard, and I want to enjoy watching others work hard, too.'"

Whatever, as the auto industry sags, concern over job security grows and homes sit unsold, maybe Tigers rounding the bases will at least ease the suffering for some.

"I have no idea how many runs we scored last year," Granderson says, chuckling. "I know it was a lot.

"It's a good buzz for the city of Detroit. They want to be excited, and they should be."

Likes: There are few finer people in the game than Curtis Granderson. ... The paw prints in the carpet in the Tigers' Lakeland clubhouse. ... Thunderstorms, like the one that just rolled in following the Tigers-Astros game this afternoon over in Kissimmee. ... Even without Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, the Astros have as loose a clubhouse as you'll find. ... Watching election returns. ... The prospect of a couple of days at home this weekend before landing in Arizona and the Cactus League next week. ... Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies. ... Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on XM. And Dylan's Modern Times disc.

 Dislikes: Orlando traffic. ... Kissimmee traffic. ... Route 192.

Sunblock day? Not really. Warm, but very overcast. Dry, but thunderstorms expected later this afternoon and evening. Check that. The T-storms are here. It's dry no longer. I'm going to get absolutely soaked walking to my car.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Have you seen the flags of freedom?
"What color are they now?
"Do you think that you believe in yours
"More than they do theirs somehow?

-- Neil Young, Flags of Freedom

 
 
 
 
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