Fire up your sanctimony machines! Gary Sheffield is at it again! I declare outrage!
If you haven't heard by now, Sheffield apparently demanded a contract extension before Thursday's game because he knew that the Mets had pulled him off waivers, meaning they wouldn't be trading him to a contender. According to various vague and anonymous sources, he may have gotten into a spat with Omar Minaya and possibly even become "verbally abusive."
I wasn't there, of course. I have no idea what went on behind closed doors, but I wonder why so many seem to have decided that the incident was unquestionably Sheff's fault. After all, Minaya had the opportunity to trade Sheff to a contending team -- the San Francisco Giants, according to Jon Heyman -- and opted not to. So it's hard to blame Sheffield for wondering, then, if he was in the Mets' long-term plans and requesting an extension. When the Mets denied the extension, he got frustrated. He's a temperamental guy, we know, and who knows what buttons were pushed in that meeting?
The biggest blunder here, of course, is Minaya's. If you're a Major League GM and you have a good excuse to get Brian Sabean on the phone to discuss trading him an old man, you do it; Sabean might be the only general manager in baseball more dedicated to easing aging players into retirement than Minaya. And the Giants need a bat pretty desperately, and Sheffield has one of those.
So maybe Sheff got mad because he likes logic, though there's plenty in his history to suggest that's not the case. Either way, knowing nothing about the situation beyond what's on the surface, I'll side with the guy with the 122 OPS+. Sheffield has inarguably had a better year than Minaya.
I have no idea what return the Mets could have gotten for Sheffield. Maybe the Giants offered so little that it offended Minaya into pulling Sheffield back. But what would the Mets have to lose even by picking up a non-prospect? It has been clear for a while that the Mets are not going to compete for anything this season, why not at least get someone to bolster the Buffalo roster for next season? After all, the team has a promise to keep.
Really, the same goes for everyone else on the Mets who won't or shouldn't be back for next year. If the Mets can't field a competitive team with them, they should have no trouble fielding an uncompetitive team without them. Livan Hernandez was released yesterday to make room for Billy Wagner.
I wonder if anyone claimed Livan on waivers earlier this month. I haven't heard as much, and with Hernandez set to earn incentives in his contract perhaps no one else wanted him, but who knows? He'll still eat innings, among other things, and maybe that's worth something to someone. Under any other regime, it'd be easy to say no chance, the Mets would have tried in every possible way to get something of even marginal value in return for Hernandez. But under Minaya, too often it has appeared that the front office is simply not paying attention.
So now the pressure is on to get something worthwhile for Wagner, the only clunker the Mets have that's worth any cash. He's got the closer label and he looked great Thursday night, so in theory it shouldn't be too tough to send him to some competitive team looking for an extra cannon in its bullpen arsenal. Minaya's cards are on the table, because it's no secret that the Mets are looking to deal Wagner and, due to the waiver system, they won't have much leverage with whatever team claims him. But Wagner's still due to earn a pretty penny this season, so, according to Jayson Stark, the Mets can pick up some of his salary in exchange for a decent prospect.
I would guess many other Mets have been put through the waiver process already, but, naturally, I have no idea if any were claimed or any cleared. But if even one inexpensive young player could be had in return for someone who's not signed beyond this season, there's just no harm in making it happen. At the very least, it could clear room on the 40-man roster for Josh Thole.