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Goodbye Gary

Fittingly, Journey's "Separate Ways" just came on my ipod as I started to write this.

The Detroit Tigers have cut mercurial slugger Gary Sheffield as he sits on the precipice of becoming the 25th player to ever hit 500 home runs.

Sheffield had been a disappointment in Detroit since coming over from the New York Yankees in a trade.

Last year in his first full season with the Tigers, Sheffield had his worst year in over a decade. Sheffield hit .225, the only year lower than that for him was in 1991, his last year with the Milwaukee Brewers. His 19 home runs were his lowest since only hitting 16 in 1995 with the Florida Marlins - a year in which he only played 63 games.

Age and injuries may simply be catching up with Sheffield but that doesn't mean the move didn't catch the designated hitter off guard.

"I wouldn't say I'm shocked, but I am surprised," Sheffield told The Oakland Press of Pontiac. "To do this when somebody is one home run away ... I don't know how to react to it."

The decision apparently wasn't easy for Detroit Manager Jim Leyland either.

"I lit two Marlboros at the same time," Leyland said. "I couldn't sleep. But I feel better that it's over with than I did at 3 in the morning."

Leyland said the Tigers need to get more versatile and I guess a 40-year-old DH doesn't fit into those plans.

The beneficiary of this move appears to be Marcus Thames who looks to be getting the steady number of at bats he'd been looking for over the past three years while replacing Sheffield at DH. Of course, that doesn't mean he expected the move either.

"Somebody told me he was released, and I couldn't believe it," Thames said. "[Miguel] Cabrera looked like he was in a state of shock."

Any team can sign Gary Sheffield for the $400,000 minimum while the Tigers would eat the rest of his $14 million contract.

Cam's been doing some leg work on this story as well and reports on some of the teams that may have an interest in Sheffield, and vice versa.

Sheffield is apparently openly campaigning for a job with the Tampa Bay Rays as they play near his winter home in Florida. Of course there are probably other teams that make more sense than the Rays, who signed Pat Burrell to a contract in the offseason and have plenty of young talent on the way up.

However, according to Ken Rosenthal, two teams that might have worked -- the Rangers (a bit of a stretch, since they already have plenty of outfielders) and the Blue Jays (there's a good fit for you) -- aren't interested.

Regardless of where he lands, it stands to reason that Sheffield will play on a one-year deal and that his new club will have an awkward celebratory situation brewing from the first day he walks into the clubhouse. Why? The outfielder's next home run is the 500th of his career. How are you supposed to mark that kind of a milestone when it's the first one you hit with a new team?

By CJ Holley  |  March 31, 2009; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Tigers  
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There may not be much left in the tank, but for $400k Sheff would be a nice low-risk investment for a lot of teams, particularly in the AL.

Posted by: pondaz | March 31, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Separate Ways: Best. Song. Ever. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | March 31, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Nah, "don't stop believin'."

The Tigers can now go with a much better defensive alignment, with Anderson in left, Guillen at 1st, and Cabrera DH'ng. That might give them 6 very good defenders. The Sheffield decision makes the Anderson trade much more sensible. I like Thames, but it will be interesting to see if they go with guys who can run in LF and CF and prevent runs or whether they go with a more immobile line up with extra pop (Thames DH, Cabrera at 1st, and Guillen in LF).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 1, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

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