Seldom do the Oakland A’s dish out major bucks to free agent, let alone a pitcher—but this offseason Billy Beane and the A’s front office lived life on the so-called “edge” and signed SP Ben Sheets.
All it took to bring Sheets to Oakland was a one year, $10 million deal plus incentives. The deal was a bit of a shock, considering it was Oakland that Ben Sheets decided to sign with. Nevertheless, the A’s are taking a risk signing Sheets, 31, who failed to pitch in the 2009 season.
The A’s are surely hoping that Sheets will return to his Milwaukee days, where he represented the NL as an All-Star four times. His last active season came in 2008, where he went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 198.1 innings. Also in 2008, Sheets managed to strike out 158 batters, while walking 47.
When he’s been able to make it to the mound, Sheets has proved to be effective—as evident in his career 7.60 K/9 and 1.97 BB/9 rates. In his entire career so far, Sheets has compiled an 86-83 record and a 3.72 ERA. So, he’s definitely not all risk, no reward. He’s an effective starter when healthy, and he should fit nicely in the A’s rotation as the team ace.
And while many have criticized the A’s for the amount of money they dished out to Sheets, it was in fact necessary for the A’s to take a calculated risk. They needed a veteran presence in their very young rotation, and with Sheets they get just that.
If the A’s were to fall out of the race come the trade deadline, Sheets could become 2010’s version of Matt Holliday. The A’s sent Holliday to St. Louis last July in exchange for three prospects, most notable, 3B Brett Wallace (later traded for OF Michael Taylor). All of this is based on the assumption that Sheets stays healthy and effective throughout the season.
If the A’s remain in contention, however, Sheets would most likely stay put and help Oakland try to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season.
Despite the large amount of money given to Sheets, Oakland’s high-risk signing could prove to be very rewarding in the end.
Here’s my prediction for the newest Oakland Atheltic in 2010:
Sheets will go 11-9, with a 3.64 ERA in about 165 innings.
The A’s will trade him at the deadline for 3 prospects.