Tag:Ben Sheets
Posted on: November 28, 2008 4:41 am

GM for a Day: Texas Rangers

I'm going to update these with extra categories as they come to me, I may eventually go back and break down the first few into this manner as well.

Untouchables on the MLB roster:
Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Taylor Teagarden,

Elite Prospects (for these I will only be listing those not on the major league roster):
Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Michael Main, Martin Perez  (the Rangers probably have the top farm system right now, helped a lot by the fleece of Atlanta in the Teixeira trade.  The last 3 are in the low minors but are potential aces dominating their leagues)

Holes to fill:
SP, RP, Closer

Potential major losses:
Milton Bradley

Major Free Agents after 2009:
Hank Blalock, Vincente Padilla, (probably) Kevin Millwood.

Bad Contracts:
Kevin Millwood, 2 years $23 million left, can be voided after this season if Millwood pitches less than 180 innings saving $12 million.
Vincente Padilla, 1 year $13.75 million left (including buyout).
Michael Young, 5 years $80 million left, no trade thru 2009, limited no trade (8 teams) thru May 2011 when he becomes a 10 and 5 player.

Large arbitration increases:
No salary's are likely to increase more than $1-2 million thru arbitration

the infield:
The infield is filling fast.  Ian Kinsler is one of the best offensive 2B in the league.  Chris Davis looks like a real power option at 3B (not his ideal defensive position but its where his future fits).  Hank Blalock will likely keep 1B warm for a year until Justin Smoak is ready to make an impact.  Michael Young is an established (allbeit overated) star at SS, with a good prospect in Joaquin Arias major league ready, and an elite prospect in Elvis Andrus a year away.  It's probably time to explore trading Michael Young....  Catcher is set with a veteran in Laird behind a group of top young talents in Teagarden, Max Ramirez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is likely wearing another uniform on opening day.  The other 3 can share C and DH duties with Max Ramirez serving as Hank Blalock's backup at 1B.

the outfield:
Josh Hamilton is an emerging superstar with one spot locked in.  Nelson Cruz put up a ridiculous line of .345 125-52-144-25 in his last 545 AB  in AAA before hitting .333 with 7 HR and 26 RBI in 31 games in the majors last season.  I don't think he'll be a star or put up anywhere near those numbers next season, but he is a former top prospect so the pedigree is there.  He should be able to put up a strong .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI season hitting in a strong lineup in the home run haven that is Arlington.  David Murphy, although not very highly touted, is a solid league average player, making close to the league minimum, who fits in well for a team that already has a strong offensive presence.  Marlon Byrd is a solid defensive 4th OF, hitting .302/.361/.460 in 814 AB for Texas.  Furthermore, in case there are injuries on the field, prospects Greg Golson and Julio Borbon should be ready to fill in.  This team should not need to sign a replacement for Milton Bradley.

the rotation:
I would characterize as abysmal.  Millwood and Padilla are overpaid for little production and beyond that is a group of young unproven players.  Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley probably have the most upside, although neither figures to be a break out player.  Next is a group of guys whose ceiling only reaches mid-backend types in Harrison, Nippert and Gabbard.  The rotation needs a lot of work.  Padilla and likely Millwood will both be off the books next season so there will be money to spend.  They need to bring in at least one guy.

the bullpen.
The bullpen is not good, like the rotation, but there is a few bright spots.  Francisco is currently the closer, although he isn't suited for the job.  CJ Wilson and Joaqin Benoit have both closes in the past, although they are both coming off poor injury plagued seasons, and again, neither is really suited for the job.  One strong arm to close is likely a must.  The three aforementioned former closers could all be suitable setup men if they can stay healthy.  Also adding to the rotation could shift a starter or two into the bullpen giving an extra boost.

the moves to make

1.  Attempt to trade Michael Young for major league ready pitching.  He is a pretty good player yes, but there is no way he is worth $16 million a year and he is under contract until 2013 (age 36).  He's more likely to be a product of his environment than a star level talent and you have two very good young players behind him.  Try and trade him now while he is still considered a star, because I doubt he will be in 2-3 years.  Remember the old saying, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.  If he won't waive his no trade clause, wait til the end of the season and trade him to whoever will take him before his 10 and 5 kicks in and he can go block any trade.  I'd love to say Young for Matt Cain but I doubt that works.  Jonathan Sanchez (I wouldn't do) and James McDonald are probably the most realistic targets right now, so it may be worth waiting until next season.  Note:  This would also free up cash to sign one of the top pitchers from this year's market.

2.  Trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Clay Buchholz.  The Sox say they won't do it but I don't mind it.  I bet they change thier mind after signing Junichi Tazawa.  Hold out and they'll cave.  The Rangers stole a good group of prospects for Gagne from the Sox and they can do it again.

3.  Sign Ben Sheets.  3 years, $39 million.  They need to get some top level pitching talent badly.  CC won't go.  Lowe isn't worth the cash at his age.  Burnett isn't worth the risk for 5 years.  That basically leave Sheets and Oliver Perez as the two pitchers left with the potential to lead a rotation.

4.  Sign Mark Prior to an incentive laden deal.  It could probably be a minor league contract with an invite.  Again, they need pitching as badly as you can need pitching and should look everywhere for it.  He's still only 28 years old.

5.  Sign Mark Mulder  2 years, $4 million, with incentives, escalators and team option.  Still could have some good years ahead at only 31.  Is due for a giant pay cut from the $7 million he made last season.

6.  Sign Kerry Wood.  3 years $27 million.  From what I've heard about Kerry Wood's mindset, he is the type that would take less to play where he wants, and he has Texas ties.  This probably should be up higher, but to me the rotation is more important so I left it down.

Texas has a potent offense and will have one for years to come, but the pitching is finally on its way.  Holland should make an impact this season, with Main, Feliz, and Perez possible 2010 additions.  This team should be ready to make a serious run at a title in 2011 if it can pick up some solid veteran pitching in the mean time (Sheets this year, Bedard, Harden, and Myers are available next).  Sheets isn't the perfect fit, but he's better than the decisions they've made in the past.  Would you rather pay for 120 innings very good innings from Sheets or 170 awful innings from Millwood?  At least you know that when healthy he's as good as anyone (and 2011 will conveniently be a contract year).  I'm not expecting either Prior or Mulder to do anything but there is very little risk in the deals for a team desperate for pitching.  I don't think anyone questions the future offense built around Hamilton, Kinsler, Davis, Smoak, Andrus, Teagarden and Ramirez.  By 2011 an ideal rotation could be Sheets, Buchholz, Bedard, Holland and Feliz or Perez and could be quite formidable. There is also a lot of depth in the group they would have all of those 6, plus Michael Main having frontline potential.  If only 2 or 3 of the 7 pitch to their potential the team would be a strong playoff contender with a great chance to advance.

2009 lineup:
C.  Gerald Laird/Taylor Teagarden
1B.  Hank Blalock/Max Ramirez
2B.  Ian Kinsler
3B.  Chris Davis
SS.  Michael Young (as much as I'd like to see him traded, next year or midseason is a more realistic target)
LF.  David Murphy
CF.  Josh Hamilton
RF.  Nelson Cruz
DH.  Ramirez/Teagarden

Rotation:  Ben Sheets, Clay Buchholz, Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Hurley/Gabbard/McCarthy

LHRP.  CJ WIlson
Set up men:  Frank Francisco, Joaquin Benoit
Closer. Kerry Wood.

5 years ago how good would Sheets, Prior, Mulder and Wood look together?
Posted on: November 27, 2008 4:39 am

Gm for a Day: LA Angels

The Angels are a tough one, they have a lot of different ways to go and I'm going to break down everything a little more beforehand.  I may start doing this for all the teams, depending on how time consuming it is.

Holes to fill:
LF, 1B, SP, RP

Potential major losses:
Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Garland, Juan Rivera, Darren Oliver

Major Free Agents after 2009:
Vlad Guerrero, John Lackey, Chone Figgins

Bad Contracts:
Gary Matthews, 3 years $33 million remaining, full no trade clause, can block trades to four teams in the final 2 years.
Kelvin Escobar, 1 year $9 million remaining.

Large arbitration increases:
Ervin Santana

the infield: 
Figgins, Wood, Aybar, Kendrick, Rodriguez and Izturis is more than enough to handle 2b, 3b, ss and whats left of DH after Vlad's 25-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games.  Kendrick and Figgins should each get consistent DH time as well an attempt to keep them healthy.  I would strongly consider trading Figgins in season if the rest of the infield pieces perform well.  I don't like trading him before the season starts as you will get more for him if he stays healthy the first 2 months of the season.  There is still a giant hole at 1B, and Kendry Morales is not the guy to fill it.

the outfield: 
Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews are both fourth outfielders.  Vlad (30-40 games) and Hunter (15-20) should both be given more time at DH this season.  I think Willits should be traded, and another OF worth starting brought in.  Matthews can still play when Vlad/Hunter DH, and then after this season when his no trade clause is gone and his contract is short enough to be dumped he can be traded.  Vlad's 30-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games.

the rotation: 
Their 1-2-3 of Lackey, Saunders and Santana is very formidable, I'm not sold on them needing an ace like Sabathia or Peavy.  Besides, a 30 year old Lackey will likely command $18-20 million a year next offseason, as he's better than both Lowe and Burnett.  If they would sign Sabathia, after Lackey's contract and arbitration increases from this season and next the Angels would have $50-60 million a year invested in the rotation alone in 2010, and they won't stay with a number than high.  Signing Sabathia would force the Angels to either let Lackey walk after next season or trade Ervin Santana before his second arbitration.  I don't think the risk of a $120+ million contract is worth being forced to lose a pitcher of that quality who costs significantly less.  To me, a second tier starter makes more sense, leaving more money to spend on the offense.

the bullpen: 
Like most, I don't find it necessary to sign a big money closer.  I don't mind giving Arredondo the closing duties, but I think they should at least add another reliable setup man if they do. Shields is getting up there in age and he threw way too many innings from 2003-2007 for a reliever.  I'm expecting a drop off very soon.  They will also need to resign Oliver or sign another lefty for the bullpen.

the moves to make:

1.  Sign Mark Teixeira.  8 years, $160 million.  No the terms aren't ideal, but they need one power bat for this season and another for the next season after Vlad leaves.  They essentially must sign either Manny or Tex.  I'm sure that the 10 year deal is just Boras starting the bidding high and it will only take 8 to get him.  I'm making my bet that Teixeira is a better investment from age 29-37 than Manny is from 37-41.   I realize this is a long and risky contract, but you have to overpay on the FA market for elite talents.  If I was the GM, I would have given up the prospects it would have taken to get Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins and not be stuck in this spot to begin with.  Not only that, but Cabrera is 3 years younger, so the 8 year contract that ends at age 34 would be much less of a risk.

2.  Sign Ben Sheets.  3 years, $36 million.  I realize there is a lot of risk in this deal as well but look at it comparitively.  Is investing $36 million in Sheets safer than $60 million in Lowe or $80 million on Burnett?  I think its a much better deal than overpaying for the top teir.  Also, Sheets is really only a 3 or 4 on this team with Lackey, Santana and Saunders, you aren't relying on him as an ace like Milwaukee was and Nick Adenhart should be ready to step into the rotation this season if needed.  You could probably also structure this deal in the 2 year $26-28 million range with a vesting 3rd year of $16-18 million reducing the risk.

3.  Resign Juan Rivera.  2 years $14 million.  I wanted a mid priced upside pick to play LF.  Bringing Rivera back makes the most sense to me.  I still see him capable of .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI seasons if he can stay healthy.  Plus, he could move to RF next season after Vlad walks freeing up LF......

4.  Trade Reggie Willits and Kendry Morales for a decent setup man.  I'm too lazy right now to find a perfect fit somewhere but this deal could work.  Morales is only ever going to be a platoon man against RHP, but his minor league resume and age still give him some value.  Willits speed, versatility and age will make him useful to someone as well.

5.  Resign Darren Oliver.  They need the lefty in the bullpen.  Bring Oliver back for chemistry.

No matter what moves the Angels make they will likely remain AL West favorites until the stacked pitching in Texas and Oakland's farm system starts making an impact in the big leagues.  Even without adding the big money starter this team would have 5 starters capable of 15 wins (would any team have a 4/5 with as high of a ceiling as Sheets and Weaver?).  More importantly, saving the money from not going after Sabathia, Peavy, Burnett and Lowe should make it possible to pursue Matt Holliday after next season when Vlad, Escobar and Figgins come off the books and Matthews becomes tradable. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com