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Ben Sheets: The New York Yankees' Possible "Plan C" for the Starting Rotation

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IDecember 11, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 12:  Ben Sheets #15 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the New York Mets on April 12, 2008 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Good starting pitching wins championships. 2009 was a great example of that as the New York Yankees had three top of the line starters with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.

The Yankees are looking to add to that rotation this winter.

We all know they have been negotiating with the agent of John Lackey and have been discussing a possible trade for Roy Halladay.

However, what happens if the Yankees lose out on both Halladay and Lackey?

This is what we will call the "Plan C."

Rich Harden signed with the Rangers. Randy Wolf signed with the Brewers. That eliminates two more of the big names on the market this winter.

There is one name that has gone almost unnoticed and could turn out to be a surprise if the Yankees are willing to take a chance.

That risk is Ben Sheets.

Sheets sat out the entire 2009 season due to a major elbow injury which required surgery, but Sheets has said he is healthy and is ready to go for 2010.

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The only thing is, who wants to pay a big-time contract for a guy who has been injury prone for a lot of his career?

Most thought the Rangers could be a destination for Sheets, but since they just added Rich Harden and dealt away Kevin Millwood so their young starters will get more time, it probably eliminates the chance of Sheets going to the Rangers like he almost did in 2009 before the injury.

Now why would the Yankees be interested? Well, they have the type of money to risk on someone like Sheets.

It's a high risk, but if he can regain his all-star form from 2008, he could be a major asset for the Yankees if they choose to go that route.

Everyone knows the Yankees paid for their mistakes in 2005 with Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, as they spent nearly the entire season on the disabled list. Then they were forced to go out and add more pitching, which lead to Shawn Chacon and Al Leiter joining the rotation in the summer.

The Yankees can take the risk of adding Sheets. When healthy, he is a strikeout machine with a good fastball and great breaking pitches. Many forgot he was the starting pitcher for the National League in the 2008 All-Star Game.

He was 13-9 that season with a 3.09 ERA and 198 innings with 158 strikeouts in 31 starts. Sheets also missed most of September with elbow injuries too.

Now with the surgery, you have to hope that Sheets will be done with injuries and can resume being a top-flight pitcher like he was with the Brewers.

When with Milwaukee, he made around $12 million with Milwaukee, but that might be too much for teams to offer for a guy who spent 2009 at home recovering.

But the Yankees have done this before. They gambled in 2002 by signing Jon Lieber to a two-year deal. Lieber spent all of 2003 on the disabled list with an injury and came back strong and helped pitch the Yankees into the postseason in 2004.

So this is nothing new for the Yankees with that type of gamble.

If healthy, the Yankees need to look into Sheets. He could end up being a cheaper option than Lackey and Halladay and if he returns to dominance, could help add to the championship rotation that is already in the Bronx.

I'm sure right now, it's all Lackey and Halladay.

But keep Sheets in the back of your mind, because he could sneak up and surprise everyone. Even the Yankees.

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