I really hope James Shields signs somewhere nobody expects.
I hope he signs somewhere where he’s not about to be thrown in the middle of an already solid rotation, surrounded by already solid players, where he’s an afterthought for that team.
James Shields, to this fan, is not that type of player.
Admittedly, no one would blame Shields for wanting to join a talented, big market team with no budgetary concerns and the ability to compete for a championship year-in and year-out.
To me, however, James Shields has never felt like the type of guy. The “hired gun” or “mercenary” who would join that type of team just to win a championship. At least not since he took that swing at Coco Crisp in 2008 and simultaneously pulled the hopes of the entire Rays organization out of the tailspin they were in.
James Shields gives the types of teams like the Rays or the Royals, almost too literally, a fighting chance.
I don’t know what it is about his character or his resolve, but which one of us would have put early season bets that the 2008 Rays or the 2014 Royals would be World Series contenders?
No, Shields isn’t actually “Big Game” James. We all heard the storyline that followed that nickname with each passing postseason start. What has his ERA been in big games again? 4.50+?
What James Shields may be, though, is more than that.
He’s more than the sum of a couple big mediocre starts. James Shields is bigger in a different way; he’s a building block. He’s a grinding, season-long, never miss a start, force with the big right hook to back it up.
So, no, I hope James Shields doesn’t fold into the background of a big market club.
I hope he keeps punching and signs on with a team like the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, or Toronto Blue Jays. Somewhere he can help build and truly lock in his legacy.
Rebuilding teams take notice, he’s completely worth it.