As the MLB rumors start to heat up heading into the July 31st non-waiver trading deadline a familiar name is beginning to surface once again. Ben Sheets, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2010 when he made 20 starts for the Oakland Athletics after missing all of the 2009 season with a partial tear in his flexor tendon in his right elbow. He had a second procedure done on his flexor tendon in August of 2009 as well as had Tommy John surgery.
Sheets was once considered one of the best young arms in baseball before injuries seemed to haunt him at every turn. Sheets hasn’t given up on returning to the Major Leagues and threw for scouts on Wednesday in Monroe, Louisiana. Among the teams in attendance were the New York Yankees.
Sheets could be an intriguing pick-up for a team that wants to add a starting pitcher without giving up prospects in return. Of course, with Sheets, health is always a concern. Sheets did have a very respectable year in 2008 for the Milwaukee Brewers going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA with 5 complete games and a league leading 3 shutouts.
Sheets is no longer the workhorse he once was when he was penciled in for 215+ innings. However, given his talent and his ability to pitch, he could be worth the risk. It would probably only be a minor league contract and if Sheets has anything left he could help a team down the stretch. Although the Yankees are pitching very well at the current moment, still have several questions surrounding their pitching staff. Andy Pettitte is 40 years-old and hasn’t pitched in a year. Hiroki Kuroda has been good but how will he handle a playoff race in the AL East? C.C. Sabathia has had control issues which have gotten him into trouble this year. Ivan Nova has turned it around over his last two starts but he was probably the worst pitcher in baseball for the first quarter of the season. Phil Hughes, like Nova, has turned it around as of late. However, Hughes was awful to start the year and he doesn’t have the greatest health history.
Adding a player like Sheets wouldn’t hurt a team like the Yankees, only help. Remember, they just signed John Maine so why not add a player like Sheets who has more potential? If there is one thing we have learned this year with the Yankees it is you can’t have enough pitching. If Sheets is healthy, can pass a physical, and can still throw a baseball the Yankees should pick him up. He probably won’t be ready until late July or August after working his way back through the minors and building up arm strength but he would be an intriguing addition to any rotation.