First off, I'm a fan of Ben Sheets' work when he's been healthy. Sure it hasn't been consistent at all, but he's no doubt an ace, and I still tend to stand on the “get Sheets” side of things, so I’d like to offer a counter point to any of his detractors.
My reasons are this…comparing Sheets to the rest of the free agent crop of starters, in terms of ability, I don’t think anyone can say that he’s not at the top. His price tag isn’t something I worry about, since we’re talking the Yankees getting him, and not a small market team. Plus with his history, he brings down his market value a tad, even though he is clearly better than let's say A.J Burnett, another injury prone pitcher whom the Yanks also signed, not to mention a little younger.
However, price and injuries aside, what Sheets provides is an ace at the number 3 or 4 position. It makes it so that we only have to allot one slot for a kid, Joba. Don’t get me wrong, I want a Phil Hughes, or the like, in there at some point, but after last year’s Hughes/Kennedy debacle, I don’t think it’s wise to have kids take up both of the 4 and 5 spots. Remember, Joba is still unproven. Everyone assumes that he’s a lock to go out and be amazing and injury free, but he’s not, and the Yankees can’t afford to go into another season with that looming over them.
Now, if Sheets can be the guy he’s meant to be at a normal capacity, then we got ourselves a hell of a rotation. Sign me up for a CC-Wang-Sheets-A.J.-Joba rotation any day of the week! If he gets hurt somewhere down the line, fine, then we can throw one of the other kids in there. Meanwhile, Hughes and company are getting more seasoning in Triple A or in the bullpen, and building their own arm strength and characters.
Much has been said about Sheets’ arm angle and how it relates to his injuries, well, I think this is fixable. A change of scenery, a new pitching coach, and an organization with better facilities and capabilities will help him immensely. I think the guy has a good chance to turn it all around. This could potentially be quite a coup.
Look at the Red Sox recent signings as examples. I think they are very smart to take flyers in Penny and Smoltz. These are great pitchers, but should they succumb to injury again, they have back ups waiting. If they’re healthy, though, the rest of the AL East is in trouble. Sheets can work in the same way for the Yanks. I really think the reward far out weighs the risk, and since I also think the Yankees are getting another seasoned starter no matter what, Sheets should be that guy.
I do believe in the young guys, though, and this is another pro-Sheets reason. I don’t want to clutter the rotation with a Derek Lowe or Ollie Perez, who will both command at least three years. Don’t get me wrong, I'd like Perez as well (Lowe not so much), but this is why I want Sheets above all others. One or two years is all it's going to take. One or two years of possible ace like material at the number 3 or 4 slot, and then we can get the kids in there at some point. I think a contract for him would be a good, crafty maneuver.
And that's Bes-Ball.