• Kay: Sources Say Yanks Want Sheets

    Posted by on September 17th, 2008 · Comments (42)

    Coming back from the gym yesterday, I was in my car listening to The Michael Kay Show (on ESPN Radio in NYC) right around the five o’clock hour. And, I heard Kay share that, according to all his ‘inside sources’ and ‘Yankees connections,’ etc., the potential free agent starting pitcher (this off-season) who the Yankees lust after the most is Ben Sheets.

    Sheets is an interesting case. He just turned 30-years old this season. So, he’s not on the backside of his career.

    From 2001 through 2004, the Brewers worked Sheets hard – probably too hard – and that led to some problems. Since then, Sheets has suffered from bulging discs in his back, dizziness and balance issues via an inner ear infection, shoulder tendinitis, and a strained hamstring. And, he’s missed good chunks of time during the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons.

    However, this season, Ben Sheets has made 29 starts (to date) and thrown 194 innings. And, that’s solid. Further, and this is most important, Sheets is an excellent pitcher. Since 2004, among starting pitchers, only Johan Santana has been better at limiting base-runners. However, in addition to Sheets’ injury history, there’s always the question around bringing a pitcher into the American League East when he’s been in the National League prior to that (and that’s where he ran up his great numbers).

    If the Yankees go after Sheets, and get him, I don’t think anyone can say, now, how it will work out. It could be the same as when the Braves signed Greg Maddux after the 1992 season. Or, it could be the same as when the Braves signed Andy Messersmith after the 1975 season. The risk/reward ratio on inking Sheets to a huge, mega-year, deal is…well…it’s a very tough call.

    However, if it comes down to being able to sign just one pitcher from the group of A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, I’d probably go with Sheets (and just make sure that you really check out his back and shoulder before you sign the deal).

    Comments on Kay: Sources Say Yanks Want Sheets

    1. September 17th, 2008 | 9:42 am

      [...] Lombardi of Was Watching shared some information he heard on Michael Kay’s afternoon show from [...]

    2. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:02 am

      I’d probably go with Sheets
      —————————
      Say it ain’t so. Career .500 pitcher with a history of injuries having the 2nd best season of his career (and best since 2004 where he pitched to a level that is doubtful he can ever reach again). I’m not saying he’s bad — career ERA+ of 116 is solid — but at $15M a year? For this guy? Why roll the dice on another Carl Pavano situation?

      If you’re going to spend $15M, why not spend the extra $2-3M and get Sabathia? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Sabathia either. But if the Sabathia move blows up, at least you can say you went for the better and more reliable arm.

    3. antone
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:11 am

      I am against this move because of the health concerns. Not to mention he’s pitched his whole career in the NL.

      I don’t want Burnett either because of the injuries but at least you know what you would be getting with him because he’s pitched in the AL East and been effective.

      I still think Sabathia is the only pitcher worth a boat load of money this year, even though he probably won’t be worth what he’s getting, he’s still the best bet to be a solid pitcher while you have him under contract.

    4. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:16 am

      However, if it comes down to being able to sign just one pitcher from the group of A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, I’d probably go with Sheets
      ———-
      Interesting, considering the injury histories of Sheets & Burnett.

    5. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:18 am

      Interesting, considering the injury histories of Sheets & Burnett.
      ————————–
      Agreed. Like I said, going with either of those guys would mean that the franchise has learned nothing from the Pavano/Wright debacles. However, the upshot is that if the Yanks get Sheets, Steve can’t rip Cashman anymore since he is now on record as having endorsed such a move.

    6. TurnTwo
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:19 am

      i personally dont think it’ll be a money thing with Sabathia. i really wonder if he wants to pitch in NY.

      i have no problem with Sheets. excellent stuff, can be a big game pitcher when healthy.

      every pitcher comes with a health risk, so as long as his medicals come back positive, go for it. if the yankees are going to rebound next season, they are going to have to take some calculated risks with some veteran arms.

      and id rather bring Sheets in with the money Moose is getting paid this year plus an extra million or two, than bring Moose back for 2009.

      noone will fault the yankees for making a move on Sheets.

      and FWIW, you can prob sign Sheets and Burnett, or Sheets and another mid-to-upper level starting pitcher, for about the same total overall cost as what it would take to lure Sabathia to the Bronx, if he does want to play here.

      so would you rather have two solid starting pitchers and some depth thru the rotation, or bank your money on one guy and hope he pans out?

    7. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:20 am

      so would you rather have two solid starting pitchers and some depth thru the rotation, or bank your money on one guy and hope he pans out?
      ————————
      Except that both Sheets and Burnett have such checkered medical histories (just like Pavano/Wright before them) that any potential “savings” would then be drained by going after their replacements.

    8. antone
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:23 am

      Also, I’d be more in favor of adding someone like Derek Lowe or Jon Garland to the back end of the rotation, if you can get them for a decent contract.

      Assuming a top 3 of Wang, Joba, Mussina; then Lowe or Garland would be your 4th or 5th starter and those are not bad options to have because you can almost guarantee 200 innings out of them, which is something the Yankees have not had from the back end of their rotation in a while.

    9. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:31 am

      Also, I’d be more in favor of adding someone like Derek Lowe or Jon Garland
      ———————————-
      I’d take Lowe in a heartbeat. I’ll pass on Garland. He might be younger than Lowe, but no pitcher that pitches to contact/plays for the GB should give up THAT many HR’s.

    10. September 17th, 2008 | 10:31 am

      ~~If you’re going to spend $15M, why not spend the extra $2-3M and get Sabathia?~~

      Too many pounds on a frame too big. Once he gets his huge payday, his conditioning will only get worse. Plus, he has no clue on the proper way to wear a baseball cap. No way I want him to be on my team.

    11. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:33 am

      Too many pounds on a frame too big. Once he gets his huge payday, his conditioning will only get worse. Plus, he has no clue on the proper way to wear a baseball cap. No way I want him to be on my team.
      ————————–
      No argument from me. He’s a fatass with a lot of miles on his arm over the past two years. My point wasn’t that I advocate getting Sabathia, my point was merely that $15M is too much for Sheets, who has tons of questions himself. For a few more dollars, at least you can sell the Sabathia idea to me.

      I don’t even know how to respond to the baseball cap comment. You sure do hate players for very odd reasons.

    12. September 17th, 2008 | 10:37 am

      The cap thing? It’s simple. If you want to be “street” and have your hip-hop “flava” thing, that’s fine, and your business, and your right. But, keep it off the field.

      On the field, you should look like a professional baseball player – and not like an ad for some MTV special or something.

    13. TurnTwo
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:43 am

      “Assuming a top 3 of Wang, Joba, Mussina”

      except does anyone really think Moose is going to come back as a #2 or 3 pitcher next year, and repeat his success from this year? i sure dont.

      and we dont even know what the yankees have planned for Joba yet next season. will he be in the rotation to start the year? unlikely, bc of his innings limit. will they start him in the pen and transition him again? i hope not.
      ———–

      “Except that both Sheets and Burnett have such checkered medical histories (just like Pavano/Wright before them) that any potential “savings” would then be drained by going after their replacements.”

      except that neither Pavano or Wright come with nearly the upside that Sheets and/or Burnett come with.

      the yankees are going to have to import capable arms to fill out part of the rotation.

      noone apparently wants to trade anyone in the farm system, inlcuding Cano, so the trade market route appears remote.

      you’re going to have to test the FA waters. then, you’ve got to analyze the risk/reward of the pitchers available, and have faith in the scouts who put the reports together and the medical staff who provides the physicals to the players before they sign on the dotted line.

      you just need to do your homework, and like i said, take the best calculated risk possible. every pitcher has an injury risk.

    14. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:51 am

      except that neither Pavano or Wright come with nearly the upside that Sheets and/or Burnett come with.
      ————————
      Upside alone isn’t a good enough reason to give out $100M to two guys that have never stayed healthy.

      Of course every pitcher has an injury risk. But we’re talking about guys that have injury histories here, not guys that MIGHT get injured but guys that are ALWAYS injured.

    15. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:52 am

      The cap thing?
      ———————
      Did you hate Shawn Chacon too? For all the wonderful things he did for the Yankees in 2005, I wouldn’t have cared if his hat was on backwards while he was on the mound.

    16. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:56 am

      every pitcher comes with a health risk, so as long as his medicals come back positive, go for it.
      ————
      I agree, but if a pitcher has shown to be fairly reliable throughout his career, I’d rather take a chance on him than one with a history of injuries.

      Having said that, you never know; witness Mike Mussina from 2004-2006. A durable pitcher who suffered several nagging injuries affecting his effectiveness.

    17. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 10:59 am

      Too many pounds on a frame too big. Once he gets his huge payday, his conditioning will only get worse.
      ————-
      I don’t know, David Wells managed to pitch into his 40′s…

    18. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:05 am

      I don’t know, David Wells managed to pitch into his 40’s…
      ————————————
      True, but the list of pitchers over 300 lbs. isn’t very long and you don’t want to rely on the exception, in any case.

    19. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:07 am

      I don’t even know how to respond to the baseball cap comment. You sure do hate players for very odd reasons.
      ———–
      :D

      Joba Chamberlain wears his cap in the “lid” style. I’m surprised he left the label on the cap :)

      Anyway, tis no big deal, the style of how one wears their cap varies from time to time; some players wear them high, some low, some with curved brims, some with flat brims. Some backwards :)

    20. antone
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:08 am

      I think the questions about Sabathia’s weight are all about nothing. He’s an athletic big guy who carries his weight well. Not like we are asking him to play CF. If he does get hurt, I’m sure it will have nothing to do with his weight.

      As far as the cap thing, that’s a generational thing. Who knows what I’ll be complaining about when I’m Steve’s age, maybe it will be all these players who wear their caps straight haha

    21. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:10 am

      Sheets’ medical history should scare anyone. As MJ says they will have learned nothing if they invite another Pavano situation. If anything, Pavano’s spate of problems was far less predictable than Sheets’ would be.

      And I’m not sure where I saw it, might have been Hard Ball Times, but its pretty clear that AJ Burnett can be counted on to have the pitcher’s equivalence of “three true outcomes”:

      1/3 of the time he’ll be lights out
      1/3 of the time he’ll stink
      1/3 of the time he’ll be unavailable due to injury

      I think the Yanks should go full court press on Sabathia, with a fall back position of picking one or two from the second tier of FA starters. You could definitely do worse than Lowe and/or Garland, particularly if they slot into the fourth and fifth positions in the rotation.

      Wang/Joba/Hughes/Lowe/Garland is a pretty solid group, and if you keep one of Mussina/Pettitte, Hughes and Kennedy become #6 and 7 and you give them the opportunity to earn a spot, not have it awarded to them.

    22. frankinsense
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:14 am

      “Too many pounds on a frame too big. Once he gets his huge payday, his conditioning will only get worse. Plus, he has no clue on the proper way to wear a baseball cap. No way I want him to be on my team.”

      I really don’t understand you sometimes, Steve. You’re dinging a guy whose health *might* be a question while “choosing” a guy who’s health has always been a question. That’s some weird logic.

      Me, I say sign CC plus (Sheets or Burnett). If both work out, great. If only one is healthy at a time, that works too. But I really think CC has some Wells in him – a big guy who consistently gets the job done. The bottom line is: Besides his build (and the old skool scout read on it), he’s shown exactly zero to worry about there. Sure, you could point to his innings totals, but then I’d point to them, and the accompanying results, to show there’s nothing to worry about.

      Another bit of inconsistency from you, Steve: Santana has gradually gotten worse, while CC has gradually gotten better. One required a huge package and contract. The other requires just the contract. Finally, CC is younger. You might be going with your gut here, but there’s no rational reason to ding CC.

      As for the hat thing, then I suppose you have a problem with Joba’s flat brim. It is a street style too, you know? The stirrups look good too, but I can understand why today’s players don’t want to wear them. In a sport where the uniforms are uniform, the hat is a place to have a little fun. Come on, Grandpa, lighten up.

    23. frankinsense
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:20 am

      P.s. The Yankees coming off the Pavano deal, I see exactly zero chance Kay is right on this one, unless Cashman is shown the door. That is, I have zero doubt that the Kay’s sources do not include Cashman. So, this is the magical Yankee “sources” where they have exactly zero decision making power so they feel important by getting their baseless rumors into the press.

      Ah,… some things never change. The Tampa cabal showing some life in this crappy season. No surprise there.

    24. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:26 am

      Come on, Grandpa, lighten up.
      ———
      You hippity-hoppers with your crooked caps and flat brims!

      :D

    25. dgreen323
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:35 am

      I think I have a rather unpopular opinion on this subject but I think Pettitte and Mussina should go and Sabathia and Burnett are the guys to replace them with.

      I didn’t want to take the chance on Sabathia at the beginning of the season either, but a couple of factors have changed my mind: 1) A third straight dominant season from CC. 2) We want to compete right now if possible and we need a top of rotation starter to compete with the Sox and Rays going forward and all this guy will cost us is money.

      Obviously there are the negatives that scare everyone off too. Big frame, big workload. There’s nothing that can be said of the big frame, either you believe it will be his downfall or you believe it hasn’t hurt him yet so why will it now.

      But, for the heavy workload he’s had, I’ve still never seen the research that says he’s done because of this. I suspect there are plenty of great pitchers who pitched many innings in their early 20′s. I mean everyone loves to criticize the baby-ing of pitchers today, and here’s a guy who wasn’t baby-ed by modern standards and because of it we’re all convinced he will fall apart any day now. I’m just not so sure about that. All I know is the guy has ranged anywhere from above average to beastly in the majors while never suffering a significant injury.

      Regarding Burnett, I think the guy is battle-tested being in the AL East the last 3 years. That’s always one of the biggest ?’s for anyone we consider bringing in, and this guy has basically answered that question already. He strikes a ton of people out and his HR rates are reasonable.

      Ben Sheets has had a great season, but you don’t know how well his finesse pitching game would transition to the AL, and in signing him we’d also be doing something I hate, which is to pay for a career year that followed a bunch of average seasons (his previous 3 years he averaged about 125 IP/season).

      I think Burnett’s durability concerns are a little overblown. His ’03 was a lost cause, but came back in June ’04 and finished the last 4 months of that season strong. Since then, he’s averaged 180 IP’s over the last 4 seasons.

      Andy and Moose will be 37 and 40, respectively, next season. Despite the connections we have to both of them, these are the kinds of guys that we need to be cutting ties with. Moose is having a career year at 39. It just doesn’t seem fiscally responsible to invest in that. And Andy has been awful the last two months. It’s hard to make an argument for bringing him back.

    26. Raf
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:40 am

      True, but the list of pitchers over 300 lbs. isn’t very long and you don’t want to rely on the exception, in any case.
      ———–
      Regardless, there have been pitchers of all shapes and sizes who have failed in MLB.

      Given his track record, I’d take a chance on him.

    27. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:50 am

      Regardless, there have been pitchers of all shapes and sizes who have failed in MLB.
      —————————
      No arguing against that point, my friend.

    28. TurnTwo
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:54 am

      “1/3 of the time he’ll be lights out
      1/3 of the time he’ll stink
      1/3 of the time he’ll be unavailable due to injury”

      cant this be said for the majority of pitchers in the league?

      and Sheets is not a finesse pitcher. he throws hard, and has a hammer 12-6 curve.

    29. MJ
      September 17th, 2008 | 11:58 am

      and Sheets is not a finesse pitcher. he throws hard, and has a hammer 12-6 curve.
      ————————————
      Might throw hard (93-94 fastball) but isn’t a strikeout pitcher anymore.

      I’m not defending the “finesse pitcher” comment because I didn’t make it but Sheets isn’t the same guy that struck out 230 hitters in 2004. Can’t be that again…

    30. Corey
      September 17th, 2008 | 12:26 pm

      As far as the cap thing, that’s a generational thing. Who knows what I’ll be complaining about when I’m Steve’s age, maybe it will be all these players who wear their caps straight haha
      ===============

      i’m 22, and I agree with Steve. I don’t even like the way Kennedy wears his hat.

      ====
      As for the hat thing, then I suppose you have a problem with Joba’s flat brim. It is a street style too, you know?
      =========

      I don’t like that either to be honest.

      I wouldn’t sign Sheets, CC OR burnett. I would sign Lowe, and I would give Andy another year. Let Moose go, because I seriously doubt a repeat performance of this year is in the cards. Why do I keep Andy on the team? I truly believe he hasn’t been playing 100% healthy down the stretch. I feel liek he’s gutting it out. He was decent in the beginning of the year, and all of last year (except for his last start).

    31. dgreen323
      September 17th, 2008 | 12:38 pm

      and Sheets is not a finesse pitcher. he throws hard, and has a hammer 12-6 curve.

      ===============

      His average fastball is 92MPH, which is league average. (That’s via The Hardball Times).

      And I’m not sure how him having a 12-6 curve helps support the idea he’s a power pitcher.

      He is definitely closer to a finesse pitcher than a power pitcher at this point in his career.

    32. butchie22
      September 17th, 2008 | 1:39 pm

      Once was and dgreen nice calls on Burnett. Burnett can pitch in the AL East and that is very important ,ironically that is one reason why Ricciardi wants him back and supposedly Burnett likes it there. In addition, Burnett is better cast to the Jays than the Yanks. They have a ton of pitching in their system where they can bring up a Cecil, Richmond or a stretched reliever like Tallet and Accardo and take that blow, but not the Yanks.Ricciardi has done a bad job with the position players the last few years but he is a pitching savant. Cashman on the other hand has 110 mill more to play with payroll wise, god knows how much bonus wise for drafting and look at the results. Right now they are tied!

      Sheets? Burnett is a better choice for several different reasons. He pitches well against Boston, we know that he can pitch in pressure situations(big games), and when he actually had an incentive (his contract year) he has been injuryless so to speak. After that, Sheets is simply an unknown in the AL. IF Burnett is a more reliable Pavano THEN Sheets will be the second coming of Pavano. Of those two pitchers, Burnett is the better call BUT Lowe and Garland are better bets in terms of durability. Once I was has a good vision for the Yankee pitching staff, maybe you could come back into the fold and become Yankee GM? Look JP Ricciardi is a diehard Red Sox fan , worked for Oakland AND has been Toronto GM for 7 years. Stranger things have happened……

      If the Yanks can’t get CC then they will go after Sheets or Burnett and will be treated to one unknown quantity in the AL(Sheets) and one who pitches like Halladay Jr(AJ) but is injury prone. Supposedly CC doesn’t want to come to the Yanks, let’s wait and see about that one. Frank McCourt can’t even afford to pay Manny, so how is he gonna afford CC out in LA. I really don’t think any other team will pay him the 22 mill a year he wants. That is if St Louis goes for the gold and spends the money.

      Corey, you are only as good as your last movie. Yeah Mussina had an off year last year, but they made the playoffs last year. Things are more desperate this year.Between Andy and Moose , Moose has to come back. He made the adjustments and has pitched so well this year that he is the Yankee MVP this year.

    33. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      September 17th, 2008 | 2:40 pm

      I don’t know Butchie, my first acts as GM would probably be:

      5 years/100 million for Giambi
      Clemens as pitching coach
      Trade Hughes to the Cubs for a box of rosin bags

      :)

    34. butchie22
      September 17th, 2008 | 3:09 pm

      Once Was, I like the Clemens move AND the Hughes move. Those are steps in the right direction! After tonight, Hughesy might not even be worth one roisin bag let alone a box. Giambi could be a better fit for Toronto or another team looking for power to come off the bench. The first move that I would make as Boston GM is/was to trade Manny( done). Look at how well that trade worked, that was a great surprise for the La Dodgers of Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles County California and the Red Pox. Trade Tek with Pauley, Masterson, Pedroia, AND Youk back to Seattle for Bedard, Silva, Betancourt and a bag of balls. Them I would fire Lucchino, tell Henry to shut up, yell at Tito for being a dope( don’t you get the feeling that they actually win in spite of him sometimes) and hire Cashman as my super scout on pitching and JP Ricciardi as my “Gene Michael” on hitting. Butch’s version of the Red Sox…..done for the rest of the century! No more Tankees and the Yankees come back.

      Oh more more thing, I need to get Friedman out of Tampa and back on Wall Street to save Lehman Bros and Merrill Lynch. I would lobby Bud to make him change the name back to the Devil Rays, that name just sounds cooler.

    35. Corey
      September 17th, 2008 | 4:51 pm

      You would keep andy but let moose go? Awesome thinking. Haven’t you seen the giant fork sticking out of Andy’s back lately?
      =====================================
      Moose will return to Earth next year if he’s on this team, you can quote me on that. Andy, when healthy is a horse, and a clubhouse leader. And besides that, even right now, if the yanks were in the playoffs, do you put Moose or Andy on the mound? I know I’ve seen Moose blow too many playoff games to give him the nod…

      =====================
      His average fastball is 92MPH, which is league average. (That’s via The Hardball Times).

      And I’m not sure how him having a 12-6 curve helps support the idea he’s a power pitcher.
      =-===================

      hmm fastball in low 90s, power 12-6 curve…I think Steve wants us to trade for Phil Hughes!

    36. Jake1
      September 17th, 2008 | 7:41 pm

      They need to sign 2 out of 3 of those guys.

    37. Jake1
      September 17th, 2008 | 7:43 pm

      “I wouldn’t sign Sheets, CC OR burnett. I would sign Lowe, and I would give Andy another year.”

      That gave me my laughs for the week. Who’s that? cashman???

    38. Corey
      September 17th, 2008 | 8:43 pm

      That gave me my laughs for the week. Who’s that? cashman???
      ==================
      I suppose we’ll see then won’t we?

    39. September 18th, 2008 | 8:54 am

      Strike out Pitcher
      Poor enough of a history to come a little cheaper
      Strong 2 years in a row – and improvement
      Stuff compared to Randy Johnson
      Lights out against good teams
      Minimal injury risk
      Young (27 years old – will be 28 next August)
      Lefty

      Sounds like the Yankees need to sign Oliver Perez

      If you can’t beat him … buy him!

    40. MJ
      September 18th, 2008 | 9:25 am

      Ben Sheets got hurt last night. Big shocker. Let’s put this topic to bed now.

    41. butchie22
      September 18th, 2008 | 11:57 am

      When I heard that last night, I thought that Sheets value will be diminshed gretaly in the free agent market. He was not gonna get money like CC and AJ, but now he could probably be gotten for a song.

    42. December 21st, 2009 | 9:52 am

      [...] Betcha it’s Ben Sheets. He’s been on Cashman’s radar for a long time. [...]

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