Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sheets Signs with Oakland

Pitcher Ben Sheets has signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics worth at least $10 million.

Sheets pitched with the Milwaukee Brewers between 2001 and 2008. He missed the entire 2009 season after recovering from elbow surgery. In his last season with the Brewers he posted a career high 13 wins and led the NL with 3 shutouts. Unfortunately, his elbow injury forced him to miss the NLDS and likely contributed to the Brewers early exit from the post-season.

Signing with Oakland has certainly taken people by surprise. Both the New York Mets and Texas Rangers were aggressively pursuing him. Athletics GM Billy Beane is wise to sign him only to a one year deal given his history of injuries. After striking out 264 batters for the Brewers in 2004, Sheets has been on the DL five times.

The presence of Sheets will certainly stir competition for other spots in the starting rotation. The Athletics aren't about to pay Sheets $10 million without giving him a spot in the rotation. Seven pitchers will have to compete for the other four spots including Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, Vin Mazzaro, Josh Outman and Justin Duchscherer. It is worth noting that Duchscherer also missed the entire 2009 season due to back and shoulder injuries plus being diagnosed with clinical depression. The Athletics could have two starting pitchers who did not throw a pitch last year.

Yet unless the Athletics contend in 2010 I would be surprised if Sheets remains in an Oakland uniform the entire season. Recall that Oakland signed both Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi as free agents last year. Both were gone by the first week of August. The Athletics finished in last place in the AL West 22 games behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

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