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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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Once upon a time, Gary Sheffield was a rising star in Milwaukee.
Once upon a time, Gary Sheffield was a rising star in Milwaukee.

Is it all Gary Sheffield's fault?

An anniversary came and went a few weeks ago and no one seemed to notice – March 26, 1992. It was the day the Milwaukee Brewers shipped a 23-year-old Gary Sheffield to the San Diego Padres for a bag of Bones.

Twenty years ago.

Wow.

I was 11 when that trade went down, an avid baseball fan. Since the Brewers played in the same division as the Chicago White Sox, I knew a lot about The Crew. As baseball card collector, I knew a lot about the great prospects of that time, of which Sheffield was clearly one.

From afar, I remember being shocked by the deal. Gary Sheffield? For who?

As I got older and read stories as to why he was dealt, I was naturally less surprised. But this recent revitalization of Brewers baseball got me thinking – did that trade set the franchise back during the '90s?

Superficially, it's easy to say yes.

The Brewers went 92-70 in 1992 while Sheffield nearly won the National League Triple Crown, but after that the Brewers went 12 years before finally reaching the .500 mark in 2005. Sheffield went on to have (arguably) a Hall of Fame career.

While its clear by looking at Sheffield's career – and at former Brewers ownership – that he probably wouldn't have signed a long-term deal in Milwaukee even if he liked it here, it is fun to play the "what if" game.

What if a nine-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger with a career .292 average and 509 home runs had stayed?

What if Sheffield and Greg Vaughn and Dante Bichette and John Jaha all worked hard to build up their muscles together in the '90s like so many others?

It would've been a sight to see, all those baseballs flying out of County Stadium.

Maybe then the commissioner would've sunk some money into the pitching staff to compliment this ferocious lineup?

In the pre-wildcard era, it's impossible to predict if Sheffield's presence would've resulted in a bunch of winning seasons, but it definitely didn't help that one of that of the best right-handed hitters of the last 20 years was traded away for Ricky Bones, Jose Valentin, Matt Mieske and a killer mustache.

Talkbacks

Zman | April 15, 2012 at 6:49 p.m. (report)

Jim...you should have done more research...Gary Sheffield was a cancer...as a rookie, he criticized the pitching staff for not protecting him...he ripped management for not respecting him...he was upset tht the club moved him from shortstop to third base...the year before he was traded, he accused Harry Dalton for ruining the team,he criticized manager Tom Trebelhorn and owner Bud Selig for forcing him to play hurt. The last straw was when he came to camp in 1992 demanding to be traded. Manager Phil Garner did not want him on the team. That's why he was traded. Many teams did not want him. Sal Bando got what he could get from the Padres. As good as Sheffield was when he wanted to play (yes many called him a selfish player), he caused similar problems with the Padres, Marlins, Yankees and Tigers. Is he Hall of Fame material? Perhaps. But it'll take him a long time to get in...if he ever does get in.

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sandstorm | April 12, 2012 at 8:42 a.m. (report)

buck hit this one on the head.
couldn't agree more.

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buck | April 11, 2012 at 11:34 a.m. (report)

Nah, I'd say it's Sal Bando referring to Paul Molior as "just a DH" and letting him walk after the 92 season as the main culprit.

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Midwest | April 11, 2012 at 9:44 a.m. (report)

The demise was hastened a couple of years later when the Crew traded Vaughn for Marc Newfield. Yikes.

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