Mets Merized Online » Ben Sheets Tue, 17 Jan 2017 03:21:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cash For Clunkers: Worst Signings Of The Offseason Mon, 15 Feb 2010 15:50:06 +0000

Now that the Hot Stove season has come to and end, here are five of the worst signings I believe went down this Winter.

Matt Holliday – Cardinals 7 years, $120MM – Everybody loved this signing, but I laughed my ass off when I first caught wind of it. Already 30-years old and in a 3-year decline (’07 1.012 OPS, ’08 .947 OPS, ’09 .909 OPS), I was overjoyed that the Mets passed on this ticking time-bomb. Can you imagine having to pay him $52 million dollars from ages 34-36?

Brett Myers – Astros 1 year, $5.1MM – Maybe I’m just a little biased for this former Phillie, but what in God’s name would possess the Astros to lay out this kind of dough on this meat-head? Infinitely better pitchers signed for much less this offseason. Batters scorched him for a .869 OPS last season and his velocity has declined for three straight years. I was keeping my fingers crossed that he’d resign with the Phils.

Brandon Lyon - Astros 3 years, $15MM - I don’t know what they put in their water in Houston these days, but the FHA should investigate. Where does Lyon come off getting a sweet commitment like this? This has burn written all over it, and with the latest news that he will be behind in spring training because of a cyst, Houston you have a problem.

Ivan Rodriguez - Nationals 2 years, $6MM - Sorry, I’m not buying into all that jazz about how Pudge was needed because he works so well with pitchers. He’s in steep decline, and is just a stop gap until Flores comes back in May. The 38-year old future Hall of Famer had the lowest OPS (.664) of his career last season and has a .290 OBP over the last three seasons. You don’t pay $6 million bucks for production like that, especially if you’re cash-strapped like the Nats. The worst team in the NL will once again claim that honor in 2010. Exhale, Mets fans.

Ben Sheets – Oakland 1 year, $10MM – I would rather have Kelvim Escobar who is two years removed from surgery than Sheets who is only one year removed from his date with a scalpel. Escobar’s best season of 18 wins in 2007 trumps Sheets who has never won more than 13 games in a season. Take away the AL/NL differential and their career ERA’s are identical. I’d rather have Escobar for $1.2MM and pocket the additional $8.8 million smackeroos.

Other stinkeroos included Jason Kendall ($6MM), Adrian Beltre ($10MM) and Fernando Rodney ($11MM).

Look for my top five signings of the offseason tomorrow. Could a Met be lurking in there somehow? Hmm.. You’ll have to wait and find out…

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Dave Matthews Might Be Most Exciting Citi Field Event In 2010 Wed, 27 Jan 2010 19:46:47 +0000 The Mets sent a press release out yesterday about the Dave Matthews Band shows just announced for Citi Field, on July 16 and 17.  Sure, this is significant for you DMB fans (tickets go on sale February 26), but the problem is, it also might be the most significant event at Citi Field this season.  Because by mid-July, it’s quite possible the Mets could be out of the playoff race.

It’s easy to be skeptical after the debacle of 2009, and I know many of you probably want to throw rocks at me for being so negative, but I just don’t see any real improvement beyond adding Jason Bay to the roster.  Gary Matthews, Jr.?  Henry Blanco?  Kelvim Escobar?  Um, okay.  And a guy the Mets have coveted, Ben Sheets, just signed with Oakland.

To make matters worse, I saw the complete MLB schedule that was printed in yesterday’s USA Today.  Aside from three games against Washington in early April, the rest of the first month of the season features games against potential contenders–including games against every 2009 playoff team: Los Angeles, St. Louis, Colorado and Philly.  Of course, interleague play does the Mets no favors when they have to face the World Champion Yankees twice, but they also drew Detroit and Minnesota this time around, the two teams who battled it out for the AL Central title last season.  And one more thing….the second half of September has the Mets facing Atlanta, Florida, Philly and Milwaukee.

Can we take a rain check on this season?  The Wilpons, Minayas and baseball gods sure are not making it easy on us, are they?  Well, at least we can go check out the Dave Matthews Band right after the all-star break.

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Meet The Mets? Free Agent Pitchers Would Rather Not Wed, 27 Jan 2010 11:00:41 +0000 So far this offseason, the Mets have failed to lure a free agent pitcher to Flushing.  What was supposedly their top priority (signing a starting pitcher), has turned into an endless series of questions regarding why the Mets can’t get any pitchers to sign with them.  In a span of 24 hours, the Mets and their fans have once again been subjected to watching two more free agent pitchers who were supposedly on the Mets’ radar sign with other teams.

Ben Sheets parlayed his year off from baseball into a one-year, $10 million contract with Oakland and Jon Garland will now peddle his wares in San Diego after signing a one-year deal with the Padres.

I was looking at some of the free agent pitchers (Sheets and Garland included) who were supposedly being considered by the Mets to be a part of their 2010 roster and noticed something interesting.  Tell me if you notice any similarities between these pitchers:

  • Doug Davis: signs with Milwaukee for one year, $5.25 million.
  • Jon Garland: signs with San Diego for one year, $4.7 million.
  • Jason Marquis: signs with Washington for two years, $15 million.
  • Ben Sheets: signs with Oakland for one year, $10 million.
  • Randy Wolf: signs with Milwaukee for three years, $29.75 million.

All of them signed relatively short deals.  All of them signed for less than the average annual value of Oliver Perez’s contract.  However, what I noticed the most is that all of them signed with teams that finished with losing records in 2009.

Davis and Wolf signed with the Brewers, who at 80-82, finished in third place in the NL Central, 11 games behind the first place Cardinals.  Similarly, Garland chose to sign with the fourth-place Padres, who finished 20 games out of first and Sheets signed with the last-place Athletics, who finished 22 games behind the Angels in the AL West.  To make matters worse, Marquis signed with the Nationals, who finished with the worst record in baseball.

Most free agents prefer to sign contracts that promise them big money, long-term security or the chance to play for a contender.  None of the pitchers listed above signed for anything near the amount of money given to this year’s top free agent pitcher, John Lackey.  Not only that, the teams who signed them were able to do so without investing too many years in them.

Why did those pitchers prefer to sign short-term deals with losing teams for reasonable dollars?  Isn’t Citi Field known as a pitcher’s park?  Why wouldn’t they want to come here where they can pitch in a spacious ballpark and put up good numbers so they can earn a fatter contract the next time they become free agents?

I guess word has gotten around that the Mets are no longer one of those teams that players would jump at the opportunity to play for.  They’d rather play for other second-division teams than the one currently playing in Flushing.  It’s a sad indication that this team is not going in the right direction.  They’re not doing enough to put a team on the field that can compete with the Phillies, Marlins and Braves.  Heck, even the Nationals have been making noise in the free agent market.

When the Mets signed Jason Bay last month, we thought it would be the beginning of many press conferences announcing new additions to the team that would help put them back into contention.  So far, that signing just looks like a piece of bubble gum placed over a leak in the Hoover Dam.  It served to hold things up temporarily, but as these other free agents are finding new addresses that do not begin with the letters N and Y, the dam is going to break and the fans are going to let their displeasure flood Citi Field.  Of course, that’s assuming the fans will even go to Citi Field…

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Ben Sheets Agrees To Deal With A’s Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:11:21 +0000

According to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler, the Oakland A’s have signed free agent Ben Sheets to a one-year deal worth more than $10 million dollars plus bonus incentives.

He passed his physical today, and the deal is expected to be announced this afternoon.

Passing his physical today would indicate this may have been agreed to 2-3 days ago.

@SI_JonHeyman: Ben Sheets got $10 million plus performance bonuses. Not bad after idle ’09.

Also, no word if the Mets even made an offer.

More details to come..

You can start your ranting now…

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Mets Step Up Efforts To Land John Smoltz? Tue, 26 Jan 2010 20:03:46 +0000

Update 1/26 3:00 pm

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the obvious via Twitter,

Mets’ next target, after losing Sheets, looks to be Smoltz. They have not been aggressive on Garland, according to a source.

Adam Rubin also reported that the Mets were engaged in aggressive dialogue this morning even before the Sheets signing went down.

Update 1/25 3:30 pm:

According to Adam Rubin (Welcome back Adam!) of the Daily News, the Mets are also actively engaged in dialogue with veteran starter/reliever John Smoltz.

The sense I get is that the Mets are very likely to add one more starting pitcher. They’ve been in active dialogue with John Smoltz about a starting role, although it’s hard to handicap whether it’s Smoltz, Ben Sheets or Jon Garland they ultimately sign.
The Mets are clearly running out of time. If they are serious about acquiring a starting pitcher, they need to get something done. Two of their three options have health issues in Smoltz and Sheets, and it would have been nice to have had one of them at mini camp where Warthen, Manuel and the trainers could have established a rapport and even worked with them a little. 24 Days until pitchers and catchers report.

Original Post 3:16 PM

In a new post to his blog at, Jon Heyman has an extensive update on some new developments regarding free agent starter, Ben Sheets.

The A’s, Rangers and Mets are among teams considering free agent pitcher Ben Sheets, who raised his value with what was described by several scouts as an excellent showcase last week in Monroe, La.
Sheets is still seeking a guarantee of $8 million for 2010, and Heyman believes that after the way he threw last week he may get it. He adds that scouts who witnessed the showcase said Sheets was throwing 87 to 92 mph and had his old curveball. Still, $8 million guaranteed sounds very excessive for a picther who hasn’t lasted 200 innings since 2004 due to a myriad of health concerns.

Last week, some journalists speculated that Texas might be in the lead, but that may no longer be the case as the recent sale of the team may have complicated that situation for now.

The Mets’ interest in Sheets came suddenly after Joel Pineiro, whom they had targeted, rejected their offer and signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

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Eh, What’s Up Doc? My 5 Fearless Predictions! Fri, 22 Jan 2010 15:20:25 +0000 This morning, Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog writes,

“Yep, the Mets are up to something, and close to making a deal… fingers crossed.”

I would certainly hope the Mets are up to something…

With Ben Sheets now being the best option left in free agency, everyone suddenly thinks they are Nostradamus and are predicting that he is the Mets’ top target and that they will be making a strong push to sign him. Really? Well, DUH!!!

As long as everyone’s making predictions, let me peer into my crystal ball and see what the immediate future  might hold for the Mets.

Joe D’s Five Fearless Predictions

1. This one is not really a prediction, but merely just overstating what you already know. The Mets “will” sign Ben Sheets, not because they love him, but because at this point they need to sign another big name for PR’s sake, and they need a number two starter. As I said, Sheets is the most talented pitcher left at this point, and when he’s healthy he’s a top ten pitcher. Health is always a concern, but the Mets will have to roll the dice and hope for the best.

2. The Mets will sign a 4th outfielder type that might include either Rocco Baldelli, Endy Chavez or Eric Byrnes. With Angel Pagan pressed into starting duty, the Mets will make sure they don’t make the mistake of letting Fernando Martinez languish on the bench again.

3. The more I keep hearing Carlos Delgado to the Mets, the more I believe they will instead sign Ryan Garko to platoon with Daniel Murphy. Garko can really mash lefthanded pitching. Signing Delgado and Sheets and Smoltz (read below) would be taking on way too much risk.

4. The Mets will probably add John Smoltz because he makes sense. He is versatile enough to work out of the bullpen, and can quickly jump into the rotation if the need arises. He’s a bulldog, even at 42 years old. 

5. For some strange reason the Mets don’t like Rod Barajas even though one look would suggest that he’d make a lot of sense for the Mets. Dan Warthen and Jerry Manuel are not impressed with Omir Santos and blamed him for some of the pitching problems last season. Omar knows this, so he may have to look at the other Molina brother, Jose, or make his peace with Yorvit Torrealba.

Bonus Prediction – The Sheets thing wasn’t all that fearless, so let me conclude with this. Despite everything you may have read on this site or elsewhere, the Mets will make the post season in 2010 and possibly even win the division. Remember that you read it here first.

]]> 0 Joel Pineiro To Angels Thu, 21 Jan 2010 03:24:50 +0000 Free Agent sinker-baller Joel Pineiro, one of the top free agent pitchers left on the market, is available no more. Pineiro has agreed in principle to a $16 million/2 year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

Pineiro started his career with Seattle, as a starter, before shifting to a bullpen role with mixed results. He made his way to the Cardinals in 2007, and as many down-on-their-luck pitchers do when they come to a Dave Duncan team, they improve. Pineiro finished 15-12 with a .5 HR/9 innings ratio, and 3.49 ERA.

Pineiro drew interest from other teams, most notably the Brewers, Mets, and Dodgers. He recorded two dominating compelete game shutouts against the Mets, including a gem in the final week of the 2007 collapse, and a 2-hitter this season, that would have been a no-hitter had Luis Castillo not hit a single to CF, and Jeremy Reed not get a pinch-hit in the 9th. The 2009 gem only took 100 pitches.

With the impending signing of Pineiro, it appears that Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn and Jon Garland may be the best pitchers left.

Till Next Time

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We Need To Be Prepared Wed, 20 Jan 2010 20:01:42 +0000 I know there are rumors flying around like crazy about pending free agent signings, and that the Mets are interested in the likes of Ben Sheets, Joel Pineiro and John Smoltz.  And while any of those guys are capable of stepping in and being, at the very least, our #4 starter, we should be prepared for the worst.  And that “worst” is the depth chart in our starting rotation as it stands today—Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and either Jon Niese or Fernando Nieve.

All six of those guys have battled injury recently, and Maine is on the DL once or twice every season.  Santana is coming back from elbow surgery, Pelfrey had a very inconsistent season as his role on the team became more prominent, and Perez absolutely flamed out once he signed that huge 3-year deal.  He came back stronger later in the season, but the guy has clearly lost something, either physically or mentally.  Niese and Nieve showed promise but that’s about it.

So here we are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Florida, and we have basically the same starting staff as in 2009, the one that was a big reason for one of the worst seasons in quite some time—and one that can be considered a disaster based on the fact that this team went into 2009 as a playoff contender.  And based on this team’s injury history of late, adding a re-tread or two wouldn’t give me that much more hope.

Sure, we may be pleasantly surprised, but we certainly need to be prepared for the alternative.

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Ben Sheets Is Gaining Interest, Will Throw Today Tue, 19 Jan 2010 15:25:40 +0000 As most of you already know, Ben Sheets spent the 2009 season recovering from surgery to fix up his torn flexor tendon, but now he seems to be recovering pretty good. A slew of teams will be showing up later today to see Sheets pitch for the first time in almost a year. Then soon after, the bidding will begin for the 31 year-old right hander.

Sheets has a lifetime ERA of 3.72 and 1,206 strikeouts over eight seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers to only 313 walks.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets will be on hand today to see Sheets pitch.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will apparently not be present at Sheets throwing session, but the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and Baltimore Orioles could possibly get involved in any bidding that occurs.

Ben Sheets has not been the least bit silent about his arm either. Sheets told reporters that his arm feels brand new and that he can easily be a number one starting pitcher again.

If Sheets throws well today, I really hope that the New York Mets will win any bidding war that takes place. The Mets are in dire need of a third pitcher in the rotation, and he could be a solid number two depending on his performance going forward.

The one team that could give the Mets plenty of competition for the pitcher, could be the Toronto Blue Jays who just lost their ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

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Ben Sheets And Show Me The Money Sat, 16 Jan 2010 15:30:35 +0000 Ben Sheets is by no means the only selfish ballplayer.  In fact he’s just one of the vast majority.  But I chose to pick on him because his name is so prominent in the news right now, as he tries to find a team to gamble and guarantee him a lot of money.

If you don’t know, Ben Sheets has been injury prone for most of his entire career.  He has averaged just 18 starts per year over the last five years.  In 2005 it was an inner ear infection that limited him to 22 starts.  Then started the chronic back problems.  In 2006, shoulder tendinitis limited him to 17 starts.  In 2008, he came back and pitched extremely well until August when the pain moved down his arm and to his elbow.  What followed was elbow surgery.  He missed all of 2009.

What is Ben Sheets looking for?  Sheets is in search of a contract worth $10-12 million annually. He has refused to audition his arm for potential suiters all off season long, despite the combination of his lofty demands and the unknown status of his arm. That was then and this is now. Due to the lack of any serious interest in him, he has changed his tune and is hoping to show that his elbow is back to full health and will audition with a short throwing session this Tuesday.

Tim Kurkjian from ESPN talked to Sheets last week.  He reported that Sheets feels “refreshed” and “fantastic” and thinks he can regain his old form and be a #1 starter again.  Sheets added,  “Watch, I’ll show ‘em”.

Which sucker of a team will take the bait and show him the money – guaranteed.

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Around The Majors: Sheets, LaRoche, and More Wed, 13 Jan 2010 20:17:01 +0000 Ben Sheets, who after refusing to throw for teams early in the offseason, will apparently put his repaired right arm on display for suitors. Sheets, 31, has drawn interest from many teams, though it has generally been tempered because of his exorbitant contract demands for a pitcher with injury problems. Sheets has asked for a $10-12 million deal for at least two years. While interest in him is there, those numbers have scared off most teams looking at him, after missing the year with flexor tendon surgery on his throwing arm.

Sheets has put up ace-quality numbers when he is healthy, although he makes an annual visit to the DL in most seasons of his career. He has a career ERA of 3.72, career WHIP of 1.20, and career K/9 of 7.6. His best statistical season was 2004, even though the W-L record may be deceiving, he posted an astounding 8.25 K/BB ratio, and recorded a 20 strikeout game against the Atlanta Braves.

The Chicago Cubs have had discussions with Sheets lately, though they do not have the money that Sheets is looking for. The Rangers would have signed Sheets last offseason, had he not needed surgery. The Rangers have, however, signed Rich Harden, so they may have reached their quota of injury prone pitchers. The Mariners, Orioles, Yankees, and Mets are believed to have some interest.

Free agent 1B Adam LaRoche has agreed to a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks worth $5.5 million over 1 year. This comes after the well for LaRoche dried up after he turned down a 2-year $17.5 million deal from the San Francisco Giants. The Giants signed Aubrey Huff and moved on. The Atlanta Braves do not get a compensation pick, because they did not offer LaRoche (Type B) arbitration.

Remaining 1B available include Hank Blalock, Carlos Delgado, Mike Jacobs, Ryan Garko, and Russell Branyan.

A name that has been thrown around as possible moving to 1B is Jermaine Dye. Dye has had terrible outfield defense, and at age 35, teams are wary of putting him out there full time. He was in discussions with the Texas Rangers before they signed Vladimir Guerrero. Dye has shown interest in moving to 1B if it would improve his contract offers. The San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs have shown lukewarm interest. An ideal fit for Dye would be as DH in the American League, though if a National League team put him at 1B, they would get middle of the order power numbers. From 2004-09, Dye averaged 31 HR per season, only A-Rod has averaged more per year in the AL in that span. Signing Dye (Type A) would not cost a pick, as the White Sox did not offer arbitration.

Yesterday, the New York Mets began construction on a Mets Hall of Fame outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The Mets Hall of Fame will be adjacent to the Team Store. The move was announced during the season in response to criticism about a lack of Mets history.

Till Next Time

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Is Pineiro or Garland Next On The Agenda? Mon, 04 Jan 2010 21:31:06 +0000 According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, the Mets may now be shifting gears and are turning their attention to obtaining a starting pitcher.

Minaya is still trying to strike a deal with free-agent catcher Bengie Molina and has turned attention in recent days to a starting pitching pool that includes Ben Sheets, Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland.

Based on many of the reports that are circulating, Pineiro is looking for a three-year deal worth between $30-$35 million dollars, while Garland could settle for something similar to the two-year deal that Jason Marquis got with the Nationals.

Ben Sheets, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, has refused to throw for any interested teams which seems kind of odd considering he is demanding a $12-15 million dollar deal. I could see this blowing up in some team’s face, and I hope it’s not us.

Although not mentioned in the Post article, Chien-Ming Wang who is ready to begin a throwing program in February, could be an option as well.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, predicts that the Mets will sign Pineiro and writes,

Pineiro might be the best available starting pitcher, at least considering only those who were healthy in 2009.  Maybe given the lack of bidders the Mets could get him on a two-year deal.

Also, Mike Francesa announced today on WFAN, that he would be revealing yet another significant move by the Mets later in his show this evening.

Could this be for one of the aforementioned starters?

Anybody care to guess?

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A Snapshot Of The Market For Starting Pitchers Mon, 28 Dec 2009 18:35:55 +0000 Here’s a snapshot of this years free agent market for starting pitchers.

I omitted some of the pitchers who quickly re-signed with their teams like Tim Hudson of the Braves, Carl Pavano of the Twins, and Scott Olsen of the Nationals.

Of the 29 remaining starters, more than half of them spent time on the disabled list in 2010, and 15 of them started 20 games or less. 

Latest Buzz

The Texas Rangers are considered to be the frontrunners for Jon Garland.

The New York Mets are interested in Joel Pineiro who is seeking a 3-4 year deal.

Ben Sheets is seeking a $12 million dollar deal, far more than what some other injury risks have signed for.

Tim Redding may be close to a deal with the Colorado Rockies.

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Mets Considering Ben Sheets, But Not Rich Harden Tue, 24 Nov 2009 15:01:59 +0000 On Sunday, Bill Madden of the Daily News created a stir in Mets circles when he reported that the Mets will only have about $20 million to spend this offseason. Not nearly enough for the Mets to address their myriad of problems. He said that the Mets should not be considered as bidders for free agents Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and John Lackey and that they will certainly reduce payroll from last season. He believes that the Mets will focus instead on second-tier free agents.

Today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that a source told him that the Mets would not pursue starting pitcher Rich Harden.

Bart Hubbuch of the NY Post, also adds that the Mets are in the hunt for Ben Sheets who missed all of last season after tendon surgery on his elbow.

Ben Sheets hasn’t pitched in the majors in more than a year, but that will not keep the Mets from keeping an eye on the former All-Star right-hander this winter. The oft-injured Sheets, who last pitched with the Brewers in 2008, has been sidelined since February because of surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his forearm, but he expects to be healthy by spring training.

A major-league source confirmed that Sheets, 31, would be among a group of second-tier, relatively low-cost starting pitchers the Mets will consider this offseason while continuing their pursuit of top free-agent starter John Lackey.

As much as I like the upside of 28 year old Rich Harden, I can certainly understand the reasoning of the Mets apprehension considering his inability to stay healthy. Still he may still be worth a flyer as a buy low candidate with a high reward.

Sheets is also someone who could give the Mets some value, but it’s important to note that it can sometimes take an entire season to come all the way back from elbow surgery. In other words, he may be ready to pitch by spring training, but will he be able to pitch as effectively as he did before the injury?

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Mets Reportedly Interested In Ben Sheets Sat, 14 Nov 2009 05:33:03 +0000 Corine Gatti of AHN  has some new information about former Brewers ace, Ben Sheets.

Sheets’ agent Casey Close said that his client is returning.

“We have already heard from a number of teams inquiring about Ben’s health and availability for 2010,” Close told Friday. “I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question.”

The New York Yankees, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers are some of the organizations reportedly interested in Sheets.

Sheets underwent surgery on his right elbow in February after a failed attempt to latch on with a team as a free agent. The Mets were not one of the teams pursuing him at the time.

The recovery time for this type of surgery is between 10-12 months and it would appear that Sheets could be ready in time for spring training.

In 2008, while with the Brewers, Sheets finished the season with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He allowed 181 hits and struck out 158 batters in 198 innings pitched.

I have no problem with the Mets trying to acquire the former All Star pitcher, but only after they first bolster their rotation with either John Lackey or Roy Halladay.

The 31 year old Sheets, could end up being a great low-risk/high-reward type player and may be worth a flyer for the back of the rotation.

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Looking Out For Number 2 Sat, 26 Sep 2009 12:42:26 +0000 Number TwoAfter the 2007 season, the Mets faithful were thrilled by the acquisition of ace Johan Santana.  Despite only poor team performances since his acquisition, Johan’s contributions to the team have been unending and undeniably huge, highlighted by his memorable effort on the 2nd-to-last-day of the 2008 season and the last game at Shea Stadium that I choose to remember.  Last season, the Mets reeled in K-Rod who, while he’s had his moments of faltering, has solidified the closer position for the Mets.  This offseason, the Mets will be looking to rebound from one of the most disappointing seasons (not ends to a season) in years, and likely on a limited budget, but let’s stop focusing on #1 this year.  Instead, let’s start in the 2-spot.

The 2-spot as in the #2 pitcher, the Set Up man, and the 2-spot in the batting order.  Before you rip my head off about worrying about the second spot in the order, trust me when I say I’ll explain later, and let’s start with the pitching.

We know the Mets won’t have Top Dollar to spend this offseason, so let’s be hopefully-realistic.  Brandon Webb announced on Wednesday ( that he would not accept an incentive-laden deal from Arizona, and would test free agency if his option is not picked up.  Now, I said hopefully-realistic, so Brandon Webb would appear out, right?  Not necessarily.  His option that he wants the D-Backs to pick up is worth $8.5 million.  That doesn’t mean we’d get him at $8.5 million, but it does make the day brighter.  Would I want Brandon Webb pitching behind Johan in the Mets rotation next season and beyond, even WITH the injury this year?  Absolutely.  Do I think the Mets could sign him considering their likely budget?  That remains to be seen (and I wouldn’t think the Wilpons would be willing to sign his paycheck, too, next year), but it brings up two interesting scenarios involving two free agent starting pitchers who missed the 2009 season.  Yes, I’m talking about Ben Sheets.

I know, I know, he’s a risk, but it is high-risk, high-reward.  Playing it safe doesn’t get you anywhere but the golf course in October.  I’m not suggesting throwing cash after either of them, I’m suggesting (if I can play GM for a moment) making them bid against each other.  Now, obviously, Webb is worth more than Sheets, but they are both in similar situations.  In 2008, Sheets had the better ERA (3.03 to 3.30), and Webb edged Sheets in K/9 (7.3-7.2) and WHIP (1.20-1.24).  As injury-prone as he is, Sheets has only pitched under 140 innings in a season once before 2009 and had NEVER pitched fewer than 100 in his career…not Webb’s 220 IP/year average (before 2009), but not as bad as you’d think.  I say put them in a bidding war of sorts, but sign Sheets to the contract and save the money for other spots.

Now let’s get to the Pen.  We moved Billy Wagner to Boston, so any hopes and dreams of him taking the role of setup man in 2010 are out the window.  JJ Putz was damaged goods when we got him, but I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid that he’s a total bust…if we can keep him.  After missing significant time, and with JJ no longer being a premier closer or even setup option, a one-year deal to keep him on again so he can try out for a closer’s job in 2011 may not be too far-fetched.  Plus, with guys like Bobby Jenks and Jose Valverde likely on the market, he wouldn’t even have the benefit of being the best option of a weak field.  I’m not suggesting the Mets pick up the option, but try to negotiate a different deal that has some incentives.  Offer him $3 million and $3 million more in incentives ($1 million for ERA, $1 million for WHIP, and $1 million for the Playoffs, all with a minimum amount of IP).  He won’t make $5 million in this free agent market (we’d pay him the other $1 million in a buyout), and if he has another bad/injury-plagued season, we pay him only $2 million extra for it.

Now for the 2-spot in the order.  This is where we make the money back.  By keeping Angel Pagan in the 2-spot (behind a hopefully-healthy Jose) and in LF and deciding on it sooner rather than later, it allows us to do a few more things.  First, we can build his confidence and work with him on the things that he needs to work on (not going down that road right now).  Also, Dan Murphy gets another season (or 2) of experience in the Minors, and, most importantly, we save the money by not needing a new left fielder to sign Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, Adam LaRoche, or another 1st Baseman.  On the flipside, keeping Murphy at first base and replacing Pagan with a slugger in LF bat takes that extra speed option out of the picture.  As much as I like Murphy, the team is better off signing a first baseman and keeping Pagan in the lineup rather than vice versa.

I do agree with Joe that Pagan needs work on the fundamentals and everything else, but let’s get hopefully-realistic…  We will not be able to afford to sign both a LF and 1B replacement this offseason, so it’s one or the other.  Murphy’s looked somewhat sharp at 1B at times, but let’s not say that he’s suddenly a Gold Glover.  And, no, Angel Pagan has not been perfect either, but as Joe pointed out, blunders aside, he’s been VERY good at the dish, and he, too, has had his moments of defensive glory.  One of these guys (at least) will be in the Mets 2010 Opening Day lineup plans, and I feel more comfortable with Pagan than with Murphy at this point.

Now for everyone’s favorite part: the math.  The Mets, in just Billy Wagner, Brian Schneider, and Carlos Delgado’s salaries, cut $27.4 million dollars from the books.  Let’s say the Wilpons decide to cut $7.4 million from the budget (for ease of numbers’ sake…it’s about 5% of the total 2009 salary).  That leaves us $20 million.  Sheets and Putz total to around $10 million ($7 million for Sheets seems reasonable to me considering his injury history and lack of Scott Boras as an agent), and our first base solution could come for about $6-8 million, leaving some more money for a rainy day, like November 14, 2139 (when Uncle Bernie is released from prison).  Jokes aside, adding these 2 players (and keeping JJ) for 2010 would greatly improve our team.  Just as a projection (assuming no other signings):

2B-Castillo (only because I prefer placing speed and contact ability in the 8-hole instead of in the 7-hole)


Bullpen (Big 3):
F. Rodriguez

I’m not saying this offseason is as easy as 1-2-3 (SP-1B-RP) to go from 2009′s team to a pennant-contender, but it’s certainly a jump-start in the right direction and an instant and vast improvement.  There are other holes to fill (like the one between the ears of certain people within the Mets organization), but you’ve got to start somewhere, so I say start by looking out for #2.

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No Sheets, No Sabathia… No Problem Tue, 30 Jun 2009 16:38:05 +0000 Last year when the Milwaukee Brewers traded for C.C. Sabathia, it was apparent that the Brewers were doing what they had to do to win now. As further proof, when the Brewers struggled late in the season they fired field manager Ned Yost and replaced him with batting instructor Dale Sveum. We all know how that worked out, the Brewers edged out our Metropolitans by one game for the NL Wild Card.

In the off season we saw both Sabathia and Sheets leave to free agency. Sveum was relieved of managing duties and replaced by Ken Macha (with Willie Randolph as bench coach no less). The Brewers looked doomed!

Entering action this week, the Brewers were in a virtual tie with the St.Louis Cardinals in the Central Division of the National League. How could that be? Forty percent of their starting pitching staff, the number one and number two guys from last year are gone. At first glance the starting five for the Brewers don’t look like much: Braden Looper, Yovani Gallardo, Seth McClung, Jeff Suppan, and rookie Mike Burns who will be making his second big league start against the Mets on Tuesday night.

The Brewers also happen to have some pretty good players on their team. Prince Fielder, JJ Hardy, Bill Hall, Ryan Braun, veteran catcher Jason Kendall, veteran utility man Craig Counsell.

Yes the Brewers lost 40% of their starting staff during the off season, the front end of their staff. For the most part the Brewers have remained healthy, everybody is contributing to the winning. Maybe our Mets should take note.

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Metsmerized Today – Amazin’ Ron Taylor, Beware of Sheets, Bobby V Tue, 02 Jun 2009 11:51:09 +0000 We have a special treat for you this morning. Our friends over at Bugs and Cranks, had an opportunity to interview former Mets reliever and one of the heroes of the 1969 Mets, Ron Taylor.

Taylor recorded nine wins and set a then-team record 13 saves for the ‘69 Metropolitans, the first of three consecutive seasons Taylor accomplished the feat. And despite solid regular season numbers, Taylor was at his best on the biggest stage – October. In six post-season games between the Cardinals (1964 World Series) and the Mets, Taylor accumulated three saves without allowing a single run.

Who was one player, or what was one aspect of that ‘69 Mets club that has never gotten their just due for their contributions to that championship? Lost in the shuffle, so to speak.

Jerry Grote. He was an All-Star catcher, and he was the one that made that pitching staff great.

You saved Game 2 of the ‘69 World Series, and earned a save in Game 1 and a win in Game 2 of that year’s NLCS — what was it like stepping onto that stage for such an improbable team?

At that point, we were such a close team that we didn’t think about outside perceptions. We just felt that we had a great team, a great chemistry, and I had no problems at all about going out there and pitching against Atlanta and Baltimore. I just felt that I could do the job.

Here are just two of my favorite questions from their fantastic interview, check out the full interview by clicking here.

Did you notice how Gary Sheffield hobbled from first base to third base during last nights loss against the Pirates? Gary Cohen first supposed that he might be hurt, but this morning Adam Rubin confirms it and counts him among the Mets’ walking wounded.

Sheffield moved gingerly going from first to third on Jeremy Reed’s third-inning double, then labored going after Adam La Roche’s double to right-center off Pedro Feliciano in the eighth. He acknowledged afterward that he’s been dealing with discomfort behind his right knee. Sheffield pledged to fight through the trouble by being smart about exerting himself. He noted he still stole second base in the 11th inning Friday to set up the winning run.

In that same article, Rubin informs us that Alex Cora will be activated from the disabled list today, and replace the injured Angel Pagan on the 25-man roster.

The Mets may be very close to getting shortstop Jose Reyes back as soon as he is eligible to be activated this Friday. Steve Popper checks in on him down at Port St. Lucie.

Jose Reyes and Ryan Church took live batting practice in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with no problems and are scheduled to play in an extended spring game today. If all goes according to plan, Reyes will play two extended spring games, take a day off Thursday and be activated to join the Mets on Friday in Washington. Church is eligible to return Sunday.

This one if for all of you Bobby V lovers out there. Apparently, according to The Record’s Bob Klapisch, Bobby Valentine wouldn’t mind stepping back into the fold as an MLB manager, and he’s as good as gone from he Japanese gig come 2010.

Bobby Valentine is too smart to come out and say he covets another shot at the big leagues – Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, whatever – but given the friction with his current Japanese bosses, you can make book on this: The man is heading home in 2010.

“What I’ve learned from experience is that there’s no way an outsider can win the battle of words here,” Valentine said by telephone recently. That means some general manager inevitably will be tempted by Bobby V’s unique blend of managerial and personality skills – OK, his eccentricities. Who knows, it might even be Omar Minaya.

Everyone it talking about trades these days and thats just fine with me. I love trade rumors and the Hot Stove season. The Mets can certainly use some help, and one name I keep hearing again and again, is that of the oft-injured starting pitcher, Ben Sheets. Andrew Marchand, caught up with his agent yesterday and wrote,

I just got off the phone with Ben Sheet’s agent, who would not comment at all where Ben Sheets might end up. But he could be a low-risk, high reward option for the Mets.

His agent, Casey Close, says they are not going to make any comments right now. He wouldn’t even say how Sheets is doing so it is unclear where he is in his rehab.When he had his elbow surgery in February he was supposed to be out four-to-six months, which would mean he possibly could be ready next month.

I don’t like the smell of that at all. Most agents won’t stop gushing about how well their free agents are doing and how great they look. For Casey Close to remain so tight-lipped about his client Sheets who is hoping to pitch again this season, really makes me want to step back and look elsewhere for help.

That’s all for today, keep bleeding’ orange and blue!

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Will Perez Force Mets To Get A Starter At Deadline? Fri, 10 Apr 2009 16:30:39 +0000 I was just reading an interesting article by David Lennon of Newsday on his blog. Lennon seems all fired up about comments that were made by Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen who both said they were encouraged by Ollie’s last start.

I was kind of surprised yesterday to hear both manager Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen say they were “encouraged” by Oliver Perez’s 4 1/3-inning stint in an 8-6 loss to the Reds.

Encouraged? What it is this — extending spring? If Perez wasn’t ready to start the season, maybe they should have left him down in Port St. Lucie and brought Dillon Gee or Nelson Figueroa north for the start of the season. This whole work-in-progress thing doesn’t fly for a pitcher the Mets just signed for $36 million.For that money, a pitcher is supposed to be an asset to a rotation, not its Achilles heel.

I can’t disagree with him, but at the same time it’s a little bit too early to begin passing judgment on Perez on the strength of one start. I do blame the Mets though for knowing Perez not ready and taking him north rather than letting him remain one more week in extended spring training. Livan Hernandez should have been making that Perez start, and Perez could have gotten the call for the Saturday start giving Ollie more time to work things out.

Lennon also believes that the Mets will be big players for a starter at the trade deadline and surmises that Ben Sheets, Jake Peavy and yes, Pedro Martinez, will all be options for the Mets.

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Mets Sign Pitcher Freddy Garcia Fri, 23 Jan 2009 01:01:07 +0000 According to Adam Rubin of the Daily News, the Mets have signed righthanded starter Feddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia is a Met. The righthander agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mets tonight, the Daily News has learned. It’s believed he can earn as much as $8 million to $9 million if he makes the team and reaches all of his incentives.

Nice signing for the Mets, especially if Garcia returns to his pre-injury form.

It’s a minor league deal, but barring a major setback, he should easily make the team,

The deal only pays him $8-9 million if he reaches a number of incentives, so it’s a very solid play by Omar Minaya. I’m guessing that the guaranteed money is probably around $2-3 million dollars. 

I don’t know how this impacts the Ben Sheets or the Oliver Perez situation, but it certainly gives the Mets a little more leverage in their negotiations.

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What If These Things Happened? Thu, 08 Jan 2009 03:57:37 +0000 Hypothetically speaking… let’s just imagine for a second that the players we hear on the HotStove are interested in the Mets. Now, let’s also imagine that Omar could sign most of them, be somewhat reasonable and not press “Force Trade” from a baseball video game like signing EVERYONE (we’re not the Yankees). Anyway, the players we hear
in the news are: Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, Manny Ramirez, Orlando
Hudson, Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, and Ben Sheets. There’s more names out
there, but we don’t hear that at all, obviously.

Ok, there are a
few situations out there. We have a void spot for starting rotation.
However, in my opinion, it’s actually two. I love my boy Jonathon Niese
and all, but I think he still needs to tune a third pitch to be
successful. Enter Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, Jon Garland,
Ben Sheets, and Tim Redding. Who do we choose? Well, it looks like Omar
is picking Derek Lowe and staying with Niese. In my opinion, I’d either
sign Derek Lowe AND Oliver Perez or sign Ben Sheets AND Oliver Perez. I
really think Ollie should be a Met again. Why? He’s a Phillie killier
and he’s a lefty. The Mets only have Johan as their only lefty starter.
Ollie is still young and has a great upside. Derek Lowe is Mr.
Consistent and Ben Sheets is just scary, both good and bad. Yes, good
being he’s absolutely filthy when healthy, and bad being he’s almost as
bad as Carl Pavano, injury-wise.

–Signing two pitchers = reasonable and very do-able at this point.

#2, left field. We currently have Fernando t-t-t-t-TATIS and Daniel
Murphy. While that’s a good platoon, it could easily be insanely
upgraded with one player. Enter Manuel Aristides Ramírez Onelcida
(thanks Wiki). Sure, he’s a crazy act in the clubhouse; yet players,
coaches, and managers love him, or at least a good chunk of them do.
He’s deadly with the bat, but an absolute clown on the field. I don’t
care, but with him in this already punishing lineup, the Mets would
instantly be the team to beat around the NL.

–Costly + Scott Boras = not AS reasonable, but very managable if price drops.

I’m Luis Castillo. I make a very good amount of money, even though my
knees are about to break in pieces. I also can’t run anymore and I
can’t hit. I could bunt though! What do we do about this? I don’t think
we can do anything about this situation anymore. What an ideal
situation would be to ship Castillo somewhere, eat some of his
contract, and wish Orlando Hudson could drop his price just a tad bit.
Hudson brings that nitty-gritty attitude needed for this team, much
like Wally Backman was for the ’86 Amazins. Oh, and I love the double
flapped helmet. It looks much better on him that it does for that man
named the Flyin’ Hawaiin (still bitter about them winning).

–Big ass contract isn’t gonna help at all, but there’s still a small chance of him leaving and the O-Dog coming to Citi Field.

with all that being said, if all of the above move happen (chance is
probably 1%) the opening day lineup and rotation would look like this.

1. Jose Reyes (SS)
2. Carlos Beltran (CF)
3. David Wright (3B)
4. Manny Ramirez (LF)
5. Carlos Delgado (1B)
6. Ryan Church (RF)
7. Orlando Hudson (2B)
8. Brian Schneider (C)
9. Pitcher

1. Johan Santana (L)
2. Derek Lowe (R) / Ben Sheets (R) **
3. Oliver Perez (L)
4. Mike Pelfrey (R)
5. John Maine (R)

The lineup only looks like that because if I had Delgado, Church,
Schneider as 6,7,8, it would be too lefty heavy, thus me having Hudson
at the 7 hole to break up the lefties.

Now isn’t that just crazy folks? I wish it would happen, HEY, maybe it’ll happen. A Met fan can only dream right?


That’s right ladies and gentlemen. Your own Minor League Reporter for two years has started his own blog, entitled ‘Retire 31‘. I just started it a few days ago, but if you like what you read, please make sure to give it a look. Just click this link and read away! Thanks to everyone!

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