St. Louis Cardinals Blog Swap: Passing Up Jon Garland, Benefits of Ben Sheets

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IJanuary 30, 2009

Today, some of the United Cardinal Bloggers are relieving the monotony of the winter by switching around blogs, and we are encouraging the readers to read them all and guess who is doing the guest writing.  The blogs participating are:

Cardinal Diaspora
La Beisbolista
Pitchers Hit Eighth
Play A Hard Nine
and this one, of course.

Without further ado, here's today's guest post.  Post your guesses (as well as any discussion, of course) in the comments.


Jon Garland signed with the Diamondbacks, and you bet there are more than a few Cardinal fans whining and moaning about another free agent signed that won't be donning the birds on the bat. But did the Cardinals really lose out by passing up on Garland?

The short of it—no, not really.

Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, and Braden Looper all have one thing in common, and that is while they are pretty sure to give you innings, they are all pretty "meh" pitchers.

Garland is the surest bet of those four to log you 190 innings, but like the others, he's a 4.50 FIP pitcher, meaning that he's worth about two wins above a replacement level pitcher. The difference between 190 innings of Jon Garland and what the Cardinals already have in house—either 150 innings of Mitch Boggs or Kyle McClellan—is a net savings of 7-9 runs.

The bottom line is $7.5 million dollars is greatly overpaying for a marginal gain, at least when you have other in house options that probably aren't a whole lot worse. As it stands, the Cardinals look like an 86-87 win team, depending on how much Chris Carpenter can go.

Rather than playing it safe and going with a known innings eater, the Cardinals still have the opportunity to sign Ben Sheets, who I would think would like a shot at getting revenge against the club who let him go. I know it's a long shot, but they have a lot to gain by signing him.

Ben Sheets is a pretty safe bet to net you a 3.70 ERA. Even if he can only throw 135 innings, he's worth over three wins above replacement, putting the Cards at 90-win talent level heading into the season. He doesn't have to be 100 percent healthy. If you can believe he can give you at least that, unless a lot of other things go wrong, Ben Sheets punches your playoff ticket.

We've recently seen Andy Pettitte sign for a pretty affordable incentive-laden deal with the Yankees. He is older but has a cleaner bill of health, so it's possible he set the market for Sheets. The season is already riding on Carp's health. Hopefully with luck they can coax 70-100 innings out of him.

200 innings of Sheets/Carp combined gives the staff a much-needed ace and could very well be the difference between watching the playoffs or being in them. So why not go all in?