Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Maddog back, Sheets next?

In a move of rare shrewdness, the Chicago Cubs announced yesterday that Greg Maddux has returned to the team as an assistant to GM Jim Hendry. This move can only help, especially in the case of talent evaluation. Booze-hound Hendry needs all the help he can get these days.

Also in Cubs news is the rumor that the team plans to make a run at starting pitcher Ben Sheets. Convincing the front office to make the former Brewer an offer should be Greg Maddux's first order of business. Maddog will take one look at Sheets' baseball-reference page and drool all over his keyboard as he reads off these career numbers:
  • K/BB: 3.85
  • WHIP: 1.20
  • BB/9: 1.97
  • FIP: 3.56 (FIP is Fielder Independent Pitching, defintion here, read as ERA)
Sheets has elite control combined with nasty, whiff inducing stuff. Maddux should appreciate the value of an incredibly low walks per nine innings, (Maddux for comparison had a career BB/9 of 1.8) as well as the elite strikeout to walk ratio of 3.85 (not a huge K-guy, Maddux still maintained a career 3.3 K/BB).

Some may wonder why the Cubs would let Rich Harden walk, only to pursue another potential ace who has his history of injuries. I think the answer is simply that, even while healthy, Harden can only be counted on for 6 innings of work. A healthy Ben Sheets is capable of going all 9 innings on any good day, as seen by his 18 career complete games. Rich Harden, on the other hand, has a whopping two complete games on his resume, both in 2005.

Ben Sheets seems to still think it is 2005, though (a year after a season of career bests in 2004 that included 237 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.983 WHIP and an incredible 8.25 K/BB) as Carrie Muskat tweets that Sheets' current asking price of $10-12 million is out of the Cubs budget. I'm not sure if Ben Sheets is aware that he missed the entire 2009 season and has not thrown 200 innings of baseball since 2004, but his reported asking price is just about what an ace in 2005 was making. This is also roughly the same amount that Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster are making, and while Sheets may pitch better than those two when healthy, both Dempster and Lilly have proven to be durable and reliable.

Sheets asking price will undoubtedly come down, whether it comes down enough for the Rickett's family is another issue. Hopefully Greg Maddux has something to say about this potential move.

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