It looks like Ben Sheets made the right decision by signing a four-year contract with the Brewers after his spectacular 2004 season. The then-25-year-old tossed 237 innings to the tune of a 2.70 ERA, striking out 264 to just 32 walks, with a WHIP below 1.00. Those are absolutely insane numbers, but because his team was lousy, he finished just eighth in the Cy Young voting. (To be fair, Randy Johnson should have won it, with Sheets a close second.)
Since then, Sheets hasn’t pitched more than 157 innings in a season due to a number of injuries. He’s still managed sub-4.00 ERAs in those seasons, though, a testament to his superior talent. But if he can’t stay healthy, he can’t expect a team to invest big dollars for even four years. His most recent injury does not help allay those fears.
Despite the injury — which seems minor — Sheets has been game-on in his walk year. In his 28 innings this year, he’s struck out 24 to just four walks, and allowed just 14 hits, for a nifty WHIP of 0.64. Time will tell if he can hold up for the entire season, missing the occasional start here and there, as he might next time around the rotation.
So what’s a team in need of pitching to do? If Sheets gets to 190 innings this year, do you gamble four years and, say, $65, $70 million on him? It’s an enormous risk, but if Sheets can stay healthy for three of those four years, it could be well worth it. He joins the top of a free agent pitching class that includes C.C. Sabathia and
Carl Pavano Derek Lowe.
Any guesses as to where Sheets goes and for what? I’ve got the Mets at three years and $55MM.
Posted by Joe Pawlikowski.