It’s no secret that the Phillies are in need of another reliable starting pitcher, because you can’t count on Cliff Lee being as great as he was down the stretch and carry the entire pitching staff throughout a full season.
We all can hope that Cole Hamels finds a way to focus on baseball rather than the off-the-field issues and prove to everyone that last year was just a hiccup in what will turn out to be a brilliant career.
But how far does hoping get you in sports? It doesn’t get you far, I can tell you that. Being a Philly sports fan, I’ve hoped for a lot of things and more often than not, I’ve come out disappointed.
Is anyone comfortable going into spring training with a rotation consisting of Lee, Hamels, J.A. Happ , Joe Blanton , and Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick ? I’ll be surprised if someone answered yes to that.
The Phillies will have to add some insurance to the rotation, even though their bullpen remains the top priority in the pitching department and bringing back Pedro Martinez isn’t a solution either.
I’m not calling for the Phils to sell the farm to acquire an elite pitcher like Roy Halladay; they’re not in need of an ace. Nor am I saying go out and sign John Lackey who is the best starter available to buy.
Considering the fact that the Phillies have $106.75 million committed to 12 players next season, they should take somewhat of a risk like they did with Pedro and there are a couple of guys out there whom I'd like to see them take a chance on.
What I am suggesting is the Phightens take a look at Ben Sheets who has been a free agent since last winter after opting for surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow in February.
I don’t know the market for Sheets because he didn’t pitch last year and has a poor injury history, but I don’t see the harm in signing the former Milwaukee Brewers ace, at the right price, of course.
Sheets, 31, built a reputation of being one of the league’s premier pitchers strictly based on his stuff and his stuff alone. He’s like another free agent, Rich Harden , who has dominant stuff, but finds his way to the D.L. every year.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has a career record of 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA, and made four All-Star teams in his tenure with the Brewers, who have been pretty bad except for the couple of the years Sheets spent there.
His best season was the 2004 campaign, when he posted a 12-14 record with a 2.70 ERA, five complete games, and 264 strikeouts to just 32 walks in 237 innings.
Sheets threw at least 200 innings in three of his first four years in the league, but then ran into arm and ear troubles, which forced him to hit the disabled list five times from '05 to '07.
In 2008, Sheets had a 3.09 ERA with a 13-9 record in 198.1 innings while striking out 158 batters and tossing five complete games, three of which were shutouts.
He lasted pretty much the entire season for Milwaukee, however, he did find himself getting hurt in late-September forcing him to pitch just 4.1 innings in his final two starts.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Ben Sheets’ agent, Casey Close, believes that there will be a decent market for his right-handed client. Close said that he already had a “number of teams inquiring” about Sheets.
It’s highly unlikely that the Phillies are one of those teams, but I think they should take a chance on Sheets and at least explore the option of signing him. Adding a healthy Sheets would strengthen the rotation easily.
For more Phillies' coverage, please go to my blog: Phillies Phandom