If Only - Part II

Ben Sheets didn't pitch at all last year due to elbow surgery.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article titled "If Only," talking about how good Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman could be if only he could stay healthy.

Part II is the MLB version with talented pitcher Ben Sheets in the starring role.

Sheets can pitch as well as anyone around...with the caveat "when he is able to get out on the mound."

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case over the past few years. Although he was close in 2008 (198.1 innings), Sheets hasn't pitched 200 innings since 2004. And he didn't pitch at all last year due to elbow surgery.

Contrast this to say...Javier Vazquez, who was also available this winter, and who has pitched at least 200 innings in his last five seasons and nine of the last 10 years.

On the other hand, the four-time All-Star did some very good things in 2008 (the last time Sheets pitched), which might make a general manager take a chance on the fragile righthander.

He was 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in 198 innings of work. Sheets worked out for some scouts last week and apparently looked pretty good because yesterday, GM Billy Beane and the Oakland A's signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal.

What does this mean for fantasy owners?

To start off, throwing in the pitcher-friendly confines of McAfee Coliseum usually helps pitchers' ERA and WHIP. This will be contrasted by the low wins total you're likely to get being that he'll be supported by the A's "pop-gun" offense.

There is also a very good possibility, that if he gets off to a good start but the A's still aren't competitive, that Beane will send Sheets and his large contract packing to a "playoff-type" team at the trade deadline. At that point, if his arm is still holding up, Sheets could get you wins as well.

Given the facts that he's injury-prone and playing for a non-competitive ball club, the price for this gamble shouldn't be to high. Current early Average Draft Position lists don't have him in the top-250. Under those conditions, Sheets is worth the gamble.

Ben Sheets Career Statistics


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.