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August 24, 2006

BP's UTK On Sheffield

From Will Carroll -

Over the past two weeks, I've been hearing whispers, over and over from disparate and independent sources, that Sheffield was slowing his rehab deliberately, feeling no pressure to return. "He says he's not needed," one source told me, "and that he's got to worry more about next year than this year." Several people I spoke with that have knowledge of his rehab process claim that Sheffield shouldn't be behind Hideki Matsui. "[Matsui']s busted his [rear] and [Sheffield] is negotiating his contract. He talks more to his agents than he does the trainers."

Here's the thing for me:

Sheffield has a torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his left wrist.

Matsui has a fractured left wrist.

It's not the same injury. More so, Sheffield bats right-handed and Matsui bats left-handed.

For a right-handed batter, the left wrist is everything. It's the power wrist. The other hand, the right wrist, guides the bat. But, it's the left wrist that provides all the strike-force and which requires the most strength and movement - again, for a right-handed batter like Sheffield.

For a left-handed batter, like Matsui, the right wrist is more important - as that's the strike-force, etc. The left wrist to a left-handed batter is the same as the right wrist to the right-handed batter (meaning it's a guide hand and not the fulcrum wrist for the swing).

A left-handed batter can get by with a left wrist that's not 100%. But, for a right-handed batter, you need your left wrist to be 100% to be effective.

Comparing Sheffield's recovery period to Matsui's is like comparing apples to oranges - because they do not bat from the same side of the plate.

It's a big difference.

As far as Sheffield feeling not needed, I think this shows that he has a brain. It's the truth. The Yankees are fine with Abreu and Cabrera in the outfield.

Yes, Sheffield could help at DH - when Giambi plays 1B. But, only if he's able to hit. And, again, to hit, he needs to have his wrist at 100%.

Anyone who has read this blog in the last 16 months knows that I'm not shy about getting on the case of a Yankees player. In fact, I'm ragged about doing it - all the time. Yet, I just don't see the reason to get on Sheffield at this time. Like I wrote yesterday, when it comes to Sheffield, it's 'thanks for the memories and don't let the door hit you on the way out.' He's old news.

Just say good-bye and leave it at that.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 24, 2006 04:13 PM


Anyone that's watched Sheff and Matsui for a couple of years would understand which guy will have the drive to get back in the game faster (or maybe to be fair, as fast as possible with their respective injuries). That's not so much a knock on Sheff, as an acknowlegdement of exceptional character from Matsui as well as some cultural underpinnings. Also remember that Sheff is 5 years older. Sheff was an animal for the Yankees, but for $13 million....well, thanks for coming and have a nice life with the Padres. We can get some real pitching help that kind of coin. For $8 million plus incentives?...I'll want think about it.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 07:11 PM

This is a little off-topic, but last night on the game Bobby or Kenny quoted Torre as saying "The leftfield job is Matsui's." In other words, if he can come back and play this year, he's in and Melky is out.

I find this line of thinking scary. Yeah, the job is Matsui's... next year. But this year, with Matsui coming off an injury, I'm not really sure how you justify putting him in the field. In fact, Melky is so superior in the field I think it levels off the disparity between the two.

In a perfect world Matsui would DH half of the time next year. With Giambi playing first and Melky in left. Matsui proved to be a great DH when he did it.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 07:19 PM

yes, I hope and assume that Matsui will spend his first week or so back as a DH.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 07:54 PM

Melky gives the lineup the same kind of juice and fire that Robbie did last year (this year too). He's young and playful. When the Yanks were an assembled team of assassins, they were just too...professional. Seriousness matters, but not everyone plays like Jeter and Matsui. Damon is a great addition as well as the Melkman and Robbie. Taking the spot that Melky has EARNED this season away from him is just not fair. I kind of feel that Matsui should step up and say the same thing, being a professional and all.

That being said, I love watching Hideki. He's got a lot of poise and is pretty lethal with the bat. At this point though, I like what Melky is doing more.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 08:13 PM

I can see Matsui being the DH - with Giambi at 1B - when he first comes back.

The rest will be up to Melky, if he's hitting well, Torre won't move him out - and he'll keep Matsui at DH this year.

This is more Matsui for Wilson, in terms of PT, than Melky.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 08:15 PM

I'm sorry to say it, but here it is: Matsui bores me. My mind says he's a solid offensive corner outfielder, but my heart says, "YAAAAAAAAAAWWWN!

And I know how Joe feels about his clutchiness, but, when in a slump, Mats becomes an instant double play machine with runners on first, and, thus, a one-man rally killer.

Pure and simple, Melky's a better fit for this team right now. He plays superior defense, gets on base just as much, and sprays the ball everywhere. Not to mention, he adds the youthful exuberence that this team needs.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 08:25 PM

Steve - I love your ability to look at things objectively. I agree, I don't think Sheff and Matsui are the same and if he realizes that he's not "really" needed then he's right.

Still, I don't want Sheffield to leave this team. I think he'll be a great if he's able to play first.

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 09:00 PM

If that's the case, either Melky or Matsui will be traded this offseason, I suppose.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 10:42 PM

Matsui has a full no trade clause

Posted by: ieddyi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 11:05 PM

Matsui has a full no trade clause
Doesn't mean much in this day and age. Throw a bucket of $$ at him to waive the clause. Either that, or move Melky. He's young, cheap, and "has what it takes to play in NY so he's a guaranteed winner."

It's a pleasant problem to have, but the reality is that next year, there's a crowded OF (crowded in the sense that Melky can't be an everyday player unless an injury occurrs). IF's crowded too. Strange as it seems, unless Torre plans to have something of a rotation in CF, LF, & DH, Melky's going to play next year in AAA, if not in another organization

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 11:30 PM

move matsui to Seattle for someone

Posted by: Straylightrise [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 01:28 AM

I don't think Matsui's going anywhere with the kind of money he brings in from Japan.

Posted by: JJay [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 08:34 AM

Crowded outfield next year? That sounds like the same guys who say a team has too much starting pitchers during Spring Training - injuries always come up.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 01:01 PM