Let's be thankful Gary Sheffield got released when there was still a daily newspaper to report it in Detroit.
The simplest explanation is the Tigers dumped Sheff, Mr. 499, for mostly economic reasons. The franchise was staring at $99.6 million US committed to nine players for 2010 before clipping the $14 million due to its 40-year-old DH who was below the Mendoza line (.178 average) in spring training. You could go way out on a limb and wonder if this is part of some purge of veteran players named in the Mitchell Report. Brendan Donnelly, another player named, just got cut by the Texas Rangers and has not been picked up. Thing is, the media and the public would not mind so much; onward and upward, wipe the slate clean.
Anyway, that's just a crackpot theory of the day. There are plenty of players who were named who are back in MLB and the media's good graces, such as Jason Giambi with the Oakland Athletics or Rick Ankiel with the St. Louis Cardinals. There is not going to be any symphony of small violins for Sheffield, nor should there be. He was actually the first player to make more than $10 million in a season, so he's had the chance to sock away a lot of cash. His eyes and bat speed likely are not what they were just a few short years ago. It happens to every power hitter. It could be that simple
He probably does have enough left for some team to take a low-risk flier on him and let him sock that 500th homer. One joke making the rounds is that the San Francisco Giants should be the team to pick him up, since they already added Randy Johnson to give him a chance to a 300 career wins.
Sheffield Released By Tigers, Eyes Rays (The Tampa Tribune)
Tigers release DH Gary Sheffield (Detroit Free Press)