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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thoughts on recent baseball signings

Tuesday Oakland officially signed Ben Sheets to a one year deal worth $10 plus incentives.  A lof of people may question this move for both Oakland and Sheets.  While I agree that $10 million seems a little pricey for a player who didn't throw a single pitch last year, it's also worth noting that the year off probably did Sheets some good.  Sheets missed last season while recovering from flexor tendon surgery in his pitching elbow.  This is not TJ surgery although there may be a similar "feeling out period" as he tries to regain his form and control.  Sheets has a career WHIP of 1.20 and is third (behind Pedro & Mariano Rivera - not bad company, eh?) among active pitchers with a 3.85 K-BB ratio. 
The big risk here is obviously health.  Mr. Sheets has not pitched 200 innings in a season since 2004 (although he had 198 in 2008).  He's missed time with various ailments related to his shoulder, bicep, back, and hamstring.  I think his year away from baseball was a good thing because by not trying to pitch every fifth day (or recover from a nagging injury) his body had time to heal.  I think he's a good bet to pitch 160-180 innings.  I doubt the A's try to push him too hard for fear of killing him.  This means if Sheets can come close to his career performance he'll be easily worth the money. 
Now whether or not you think the A's can compete is an entirely different question.  Beane has at least improved the squad and if they're out of it he'll get a couple of prospects for him.  I think this is maybe the best signing of the winter.


Jim Thome also signed this week with Minnesota.  I never thought he'd end up there for a couple of reasons.  First, Thome seemed like an obvious fit for the White Sox and he even lobbied to return to Chicago.  Second, since Thome is a DH only now, there seems no place for him to play in Minnesota. Twins GM Bill Smith has already said Thome is a bench option and that Jason Kubel will remain the starting DH.  My guess is that Smith isn't too confident in LF Delmon Young and is hedging his bets.  I think it's a strong move for a team that often waits too long to make a move during the season.  With this in mind I can see Gardenhire sticking to his guns far too long meaning Thome will waste away on the bench for at least half the season. 

That's all for now.  I'm about to enjoy a Purdue victory over Wisconsin. Boiler up!
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