Alright, put yourself in Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin's shoes. Your team is missing a big piece of the puzzle:A starting pitcher. And in order to get back to the playoffs in 2009, you'll need to fill that hole.
The lineup you have is solid and can compete with any team out there when healthy and hot. But you need some pitching that can stop the other teams' lineups. What do you do?
If you don't want to resign Ben Sheets fine, but the fact remains you still need to sign SOMEONE. The rotation you have now won't get you back into the playoffs.
Sheets turned down your offer at the end of the season to establish a long-term deal and decided to test the free agent waters. He talked with the Yankees, but I guarantee is was just to have a back up plan if New York DIDN'T get Sabathia and/or Burnett.
So now, Sheets is stuck in no man's land.
It will look bad if you take Sheets back, and appear as if you're just 'settling' with him. It will also look bad if you go into the 2009 season without a true ace of your staff.
A simple solution is to swallow your pride and resign 'Big Ben' for a year worth $10 million, and maybe he can finally prove he can stay healthy for all 162 games in the season. Whatever happens in '09, he can then re-test free agency and might actually get signed rather quickly.
What? You're completely done with Sheets and expect him to go to the Texas Rangers, fine. There are a handful of quality arms still available without having to trade away some talent.
Just to name some.
Oliver Perez or Odalis Perez would provide you with another left-handed arm. Josh Fogg has always been a 'Brewer killer,' so why not get him on your staff? Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings and Braden Looper can go deep into games and give your bullpen some days off.
My point is that Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, Seth McClung and Manny Parra are good, but I'm not so sure that's the rotation you want to end up with for a playoff run.
Gallardo has the stuff to be an ace, but he's not an ace yet. He lacks experience and needs to stay off the DL, much like Sheets needed to for the past three years.
If Bush can pitch 2009 like he did in Game 3 of the NLDS last year, he's a solid No. 2. Suppan has proved he's not worth $42 million, McClung needs a little tweaking of his game to solidify his spot in the rotation and Parra can get nasty, but he needs to do it for the entire season.
Who is the proven go-to-guy of the rotation now? No one.
I don't think your fans will be happy if you can't add a quality arm to the rotation by the time Spring Training starts. You eased some of the pitching woes by adding Jorge Julio and closer Trevor Hoffman.
So if pitching indeed wins ball games, you need an ace to complete the full house.