Stigmatized Ben Sheets Visiting Rangers

Of all the things that have seemed a bit odd this offseason in baseball, the apparent lack of interest in Ben Sheets is toward the top of my list. When healthy, he's a top-of-the-line ace. Are you gonna tell me teams with money like the Mets, Yankees or Dodgers can't use him?

At least the Texas Randers are apparently smart enough to show interest, because he is meeting with them.

You'll notice a caveat in the above paragraph about Sheets. I said, "when healthy." I understand that diminishes his value, but A.J. Burnett signed an absurd contract, and Randy Wolf has turned a three-year, $28 million deal down.

Comparing Wolf to Sheets is a worthless exercise. Wolf doesn't have near the control or stuff Sheets does. What astounds me about the level of interest in each, though, is that Sheets is actually more durable than Wolf. Generally, 2005-2007 are when Sheets earned his injury-prone label. He made 22, 17, and 24 starts, respectively, in those seasons. Between 2005 and 2007, Wolf never made more than 18. Wolf made two more starts than Sheets last season, but both made over 30. Wolf will be 33 this year, while Sheets is turning 31.

Simply put: If the Houston Astros can afford to offer 3 years and $28 million to Wolf, where is their offer to Sheets? If the Dodgers are going to ink Wolf to a similar -- yet less lucrative -- deal, where is their offer to Sheets? I don't understand.

Then you have Burnett and his titantic deal to pitch in (the brand-spankin' new) Yankee Stadium. Burnett just turned 32, and he's had just as many injury issues as Sheets. In fact, Sheets has thrown more innings in fewer seasons. They have made the exact same number of starts (211). Sheets has more strikeouts and a boatload less walks. Their records are very similar, as are their WHIP and ERA numbers.

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Maybe a physical could reveal some sort of structural damage that I'm not seeing, but these pitchers are far too similar to see one break the bank and the other desperately searching for a job. It's not like Sheets is a locker room cancer or anything. I understand being hurt at the end of 2008 is what is keeping teams away, but that's just short-sighted. Burnett and Wolf are just as likely as Sheets to injure themselves.

Basically, whoever is fortunate enough to sign Sheets will have gotten a relative steal. Maybe someone I mentioned earlier does pony up -- apparently, the Mets will pursue him if they can't come to terms with Oliver Perez -- but for now it looks like the Rangers are going to be the winner.

Stigmatized Ben Sheets Visiting Rangers originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Fri, 23 Jan 2009 14:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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