Gary Sheffield retires

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He didn’t play last year and was pretty clearly done anyway, but yesterday Gary Sheffield made it official and retired from baseball. Which, of course, leads to the question that is always asked when a player of stature retires.  Hall of Fame?

I think the answer here is yes he’s deserving, but no he’s not going to make it. Not by a longshot.

His resume is damn solid. Way better than many players who are already in the Hall, as he himself noted in the story linked above.  He was a nine-time All-Star with a career line of .292/.393/.514 and 509 homers.   He didn’t lead the league in anything too many times and was never an MVP, but he had many seasons that, had they earned him the MVP, wouldn’t have been embarrassing to the award.  Many of those seasons came before there was general acceptance of just how awesome it was to get on base at a .450 clip so he was under the radar while everyone was oohing and ahhing the big RBI men.  He did a lot of things well rather than just one thing and had a lot of excellent seasons rather than one standalone boffo one and that’s usually a recipe for being underestimated.

Of course, had Sheffield not been a famously difficult personality who shuffled around from club-to-club during his career — and had he not been implicated in the PED mess — we would be having a very different conversation about all of this.  But he was and he did and I think those things are going to mean that he gets way less support than he otherwise deserves.  He’s going to get the Kevin Brown treatment.

Starters? Openers? Who cares? It’s the lack of offense killing the Brewers

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The talk of Game 5 of the NLCS — and, indeed, the talk of the postseason so far — has been the Brewers’ creative use of their pitching staff. Indeed, Craig Counsell calling for Brandon Woodruff, and removing Miley from the game after just one batter and five pitches, stands as one of the more audacious acts of bullpenning in recent memory.

In light of that strategy, it was tempting to compare and contrast the Brewers’ approach to that of the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw gave up an early run and, as has so often been the case lately, didn’t look super sharp early. But as the game wore on he got stronger, his curve got more devastating and he turned in an ace-like performance, leaving after seven innings of work, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. The Brewers may have an army of pitchers they throw at you, but the Dodgers, on this night, had a Hulk.

That’s all a lot of fun, and it was a tempting narrative to grab a hold of, but you know what? It doesn’t matter a bit. The fact of the matter is that the Brewers have scored two runs in the last 17 innings between Games 4 and 5. Two runs, with one of them being an oh-by-the-way run with out in the ninth tonight. They’ve only scored three runs in their last 24 innings. They could have a college of coaches using a murder of pitchers and they’d still be staring at being down 3-2 like they are right now because the bats have gone cold.

The presumptive NL MVP, Christian Yelich, was 0-for-4 in Game 5 and is only 3-for-20 with three singles in the entire NLCS. Ryan Braun is 5-for-21. Lorenzo Cain is 6-for-24. Games 3 and 4 have, obviously, been the big problems for the Brewers. In those games the entire team is batting .168 with 26 strikeouts and they are 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Craig Counsell could go back in time, bring back Pete Vukovich, Rollie Fingers, Teddy Higuera, Moose Haas and Jim Slaton, use them all for an inning and two-thirds each and it wouldn’t matter if the Brewers can’t score. That’s the story of the series so far. No matter how much we might want to talk about the pitching shenanigans, that’s the only thing that really matters.