Monday, November 16, 2009

The Market for Ben Sheets

Sure, Ben Sheets is injury prone. Very injury prone at that. But even though Sheets missed all of 2009, his phenomenal stuff and upside have his agent believing that the market will be very active for Ben Sheets:

"Agent Casey Close said that Sheets is doing "very well" in his rehab from flexor tendon surgery and plans to be 100 percent by the start of spring training. Close also anticipates no shortage of interest from clubs in the coming weeks.

"We have already heard from a number of teams inquiring about Ben's health and availability for 2010," Close said in an e-mail Friday to "I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question."

Sheets, 31, made four All-Star teams in Milwaukee and established a reputation as one of baseball's most formidable "stuff" pitchers despite a career record of 86-83. His best season came in 2004, when he posted a 12-14 record with a 2.70 ERA and 264 strikeouts in 237 innings."

Even though the economy is terrible and many teams are cutting costs, I agree with Close here. i think teams will view Sheets as one of the few guys on the market, who has ace stuff and can dominate a lineup. In addition, Sheets will likely be forced to take a one year deal with a low base salary and lots of incentives because of his injury history.

So what teams will should have interest in Sheets? Let's take a look:

Rangers: Sheets nearly signed with the Rangers last winter so it would not be surprising to see talks rekindled between these two sides. However, given all the turmoil with the Rangers ownership situation, it remains to be seen what kind of money the Rangers will have to offer free agents.

Astros: I know the Astros are trying to cut payroll, but if Sheets is willing to take a low base salary with plenty of incentives, then the Astros would be an intriguing option. Outside of Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, the rest of the Astros starting rotation is a bunch of unknowns and question marks. In the end though, it will come down to money, which probably makes the Astros somewhat of a long shot here.

Mets: The Mets need a solid and consistent #2 starter behind Johan Santana and when Ben Sheets is healthy, he fits the bill. Sure his injury history is very concerning, but Sheets could be a risk worth taking for the Mets if they strike out on John Lackey

Yankees: The Yankees have the payroll to take a risk on Sheets and given their lack of rotation depth at the moment (sort of), the Yankees could take a chance on Sheets to be their fifth starter.

Red Sox: We've seen the Red Sox take chances on injured players with high ceilings before (Smoltz, Saito, Penny, and Baldelli come to mind) and signing Sheets would make a lot of sense from the Red Sox perspective. Like the Yankees, they have the payroll to take a chance on Sheets, but the Sox have a more pressing need for upper level starting pitching. If Sheets is healthy, then he might be able to give the Red Sox exactly what they need: another hard throwing, quality starting pitcher.

Tigers: Another long shot, but if they can find the funds, then Sheets would be a great fit here. The Tigers rotation is thin outside of Verlander and Jackson, so a healthy Ben Sheets could be a major boon for the Tigers. We'll see if the Tigers are willing to spend money on Sheets with Bonderman, Willis, and Nate Robertson all on the books for big money in 2010.

Dodgers: The Dodgers are in dire need of a top of the rotation starter to pair alongside Clayton Kershaw. However, with the Dodgers owners currently engaged in a nasty divorce battle, I doubt the Dodgers will be able to spend heavily on a starting pitcher. This could lead them to Sheets, who will be a far cheaper option because of his health, but offers the upside that the Dodgers crave. Sheets to the Dodgers makes a lot of sense.

Angels: With John Lackey potentially bolting this winter, the Angels could sign Sheets to replace Lackey. The Angels 2010 rotation is very deep and offers four solid starters already, so Sheets would slot in nicely as the team's fifth starter. If the Angels opt for Sheets instead of Lackey, then perhaps they could make a stronger run at a big name free agent OF like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.

There's eight teams right there, which is a pretty healthy market in my eyes. Sheets should go to the team that offers him the best opportunity to show that he can be a healthy and productive starting pitcher for the entire baseball season.

Where do you think Sheets will end up?

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Evan said...

I don't see how the Brewers are not a contender. They have pitching needs and im sure Melvin would take a look at him.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Sheets hates Milwaukee and Brewers fans because they (reasonably) called him out for being injury prone and/or unwilling to play through pain. Doubtless, however, Melvin would love to have him back at a discount.

WildElliot said...

I don't see him going to the Yanks. Cashman doesn't dabble in high risk signings as much as other GMs.
I wouldn't say the Tigers rotation is "painfully thin" past Verlander and Jackson. Don't forget Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman. I think the Tigers would look at Sheets more for back end of the bullpen help if anything.
My guess is he goes to the Red Sox. Epstein loves these kind of signings and he has been kicking the tires on some new pitching.

Jorge Says No! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

show me where sheets said he hates milwaukee and its fans, please.

and how is milwaukee not on this list? out of all the teams in both leagues I think they need pitching the worst.

Lonnie said...

The Mariners, with the most money to spend, should be the top organization on every FA's list.

That being said, however, Sheets is most likely heading home to Texas.


Jorge Says No! said...


Do you think the Rangers have the money to spend on Sheets? How about the Astros?

Jorge Says No! said...

Sheets would be a great fit with the Yankees as their #4 or #5 starter, but I remain skeptical about Cashman's desire to go after a pitcher with such a history of injuries.

Anon: No, no. There's nothing about Sheets hating Brewers fans, but I did hear that he was ticked off for being labeled "injury prone."

I just don't think Sheets is the route the Brewers will opt to go. Sure, they need starting pitching in the worst way, but I think there are more feasible options out there for them on the market.

Anonymous said...

Given Jack Zduriencik's familiarity with Sheets from Milwaukee, and the fact that the Mariners both need and have money for starting pitching, the Mariners have to be on the list.

Jorge Says No! said...

Seattle would seem to be a good fit.
I'll have to add them to the list. Good catch, anon.

With all the money they have to spend this winter, do you think it's possible that the Mariners could go after Lackey and Sheets? that would give the Mariners a dynamic rotation to go along with Felix Hernandez.

JC said...

The Twins have a need for a front-of-the-rotation pitcher and with the new stadium opening this year, they can afford an incentive-heavy flyer on a guy like Sheets.

Jorge Says No! said...


The Twins would be an interesting fit. I'm skeptical about how much they will spend this winter even with the new stadium opening up simply because they are going to have to extend Joe Mauer in the near future. BUt if they have the cash, Sheets could become an option. I know in the past they have been linked to Harden, so it would not shock me to see that possibility come back around.

Anonymous said...

the mariners should be every FA's number one destination? are you effing joking? yeah, cuz every FA wants to go play on a team where the #3 and #4 hitters are ken griffey jr and mike sweeney. sorry, but this isnt 1999 fellas. not to mention, they also lost beltre, branyan is a FA, jack wilson is their ss (HAHA), they have no catcher. They have exactly 2, TWO, legitimate major league players on the team, in guitterez and lopez.

the mariners are a joke. i feel bad for king felix playing with that sorry bunch of losers.

Jorge Says No! said...

Anon: Please say you're joking, right?

The Mariners have lots of spend this winter and could very well be in on some of the major impact bats available.

And whose to say that their 3 and 4 hitters will be Griffey and Sweeney? Griffey will likely have a small role with the M's this season, while Sweeney is unlikely to return. Sure right now the lineup doesnt look deep or imposing, but there is plenty of reason to think that the Mariners will spend on big bats.

And the Mariners have the potential to be a FANTASTIC defensive team this season, which could be very appealing to any FA pitcher on the market.

The Mariners still have Ichiro Suzuki by the way....and last I checked he's one of the best OFs in baseball...