What happened to Ben Sheets?

During the past week and a half we’ve spent a lot of time discussing various pitchers connected to the Yankees. I wanted to switch gears for a change of pace and take a look at a pitcher who (a) I’ve been advocating for for quite some time; (b) I wanted the Yankees to sign last offseason; and (c) they will have absolutely zero interest in because after a fairly middling comeback with the A’s he blew his elbow out yet again, sidelining him for the remainder of 2010, likely most of 2011 and possibly ending his career: Yankeeist favorite Ben Sheets.

It may seem like an eternity ago, but once upon a time Sheets was one of the best pitchers in baseball. From his debut in 2001 through his last good season in 2008, he accumulated 31.0 fWAR, fourth-most among all pitchers in the National League, behind only Roy Oswalt, Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb. If you remove his rookie season, and look at 2002-2008, he was the arguably the third-best pitcher in the NL.… Click here to read the rest

A's trade for Yankeeist favorite Josh Willingham

Billy Beane and I seem to covet a lot of the same players. First Ben Sheets, then David DeJesus and now Josh Willingham. I first pondered the idea of Willingham back in April when I wasn’t yet convinced that Brett Gardner was going to be the full-time solution in left field.

Admittedly I’ve since become a Gardner believer, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t pine over what might’ve been had the Yankees somehow picked Willingham up.

Here’s what the A’s are getting in Willingham:

That’s a pretty OBP trendline. Since becoming a full-time player in 2006, Willingham’s OBP has gone up (or stayed level) every season, topping out at 2010’s stellar .389, which, had he had enough PAs to qualify, would’ve been the sixth-best mark in the National League. Willingham’s SLG took a hit in 2010, actually falling to a five-year low of .459, but he still managed to put up a career-high .378 wOBA, which of course underscores how highly wOBA values OBP.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees beat A's 3-1

The Yankees dispatched the A’s 3-1 last night in a brisk pitcher’s duel, due largely to Javier Vazquez surrendering only one run over seven innings. Vazquez labored a bit, and was also bailed out by a handful of fantastic defensive plays — Alex Rodriguez‘s diving stop and Curtis Granderson‘s and Colin Curtis‘ back-to-back diving catches immediately spring to mind — but you can’t quibble with the results.

The Yankee offense was supplied by a two-out triple by Granderson in the top of the second, scoring would-be All-Star Nick Swisher, followed by another base hit with a runner in scoring position by Francisco Cervelli. Mark Teixeira added to the lead in the sixth with a solo bomb to center field.

For his part I thought Yankeeist favorite Ben Sheets pitched pretty admirably (7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 strikeouts), and was still throwing gas into the eighth inning. John Flaherty and Ken Singleton spent much of the broadcast talking about how all manner of scouts from opposing teams were evaluating Sheets for a potential trade deadline acquisition, and while I know he hasn’t been the lights-out Sheets of old I do think he could strengthen the rotation of a potential playoff team — especially one that scores with far more regularity than the punchless A’s (.316 team wOBA).… Click here to read the rest

A look at some of the players the Yankees let go of or passed on last winter, and who they might pursue in the 2010-2011 offseason

While waiting for the Yankee-Twin game to resume last night (which obviously didn’t end up happening) I caught some highlights from the Cardinals game on MLB Network and it reminded me that the Yankees may or may not have been pursuing Matt Holliday this past offseason. This (a) Made me want to find out how Holliday was doing; (b) Check in on how the other free agents/potential trades the Yankees didn’t end up pursuing/guys the Yankees let go of were performing; and (c) See what some of the Yankees’ potential targets this coming offseason are up to (I expect they’ll be targeting starting pitching, left field and designated hitter, given that Nick Johnson is only signed for one year with a mutual option).

Here are the 2010 season statistics for the major names that the Yankees either didn’t re-sign, traded or passed on last offseason. Stats in all of the tables in this blog post are as of today, Wednesday, May 26, and are in descending order by wOBA for hitters and FIP for pitchers.… Click here to read the rest

Huuuuuuuuuuughes

I promised Mike the regular game recap, since he’s out in the Bay Area and was at last night’s game, but he just texted me that his Internet is down and won’t have a post up until midday, so here are my stray observations from last night’s Phil Hughes gem, bullet-point style:

– This was probably the best I’ve ever seen Phil Hughes pitch. We all fondly remember his flirtation with a no-no in Texas in the second Major League start of his career in 2007, which ended with a pulled hamstring after 6 1/3 innings. Last night he was absolutely, utterly, ridiculously dominant in tossing seven no-hit innings. He started a ton of guys off with first pitch strikes, and seemed to run to an 0-2 count on nearly everyone before quickly putting them away. Before the 8th inning, I believe he only went to 3 balls on one one hitter, and that was Daric Barton in the first inning.… Click here to read the rest

An option for the 2011 rotation?

Yankeeist favorite Ben Sheets is off to a decent start with Oakland, picking up his first win of the season last night on the strength of six scoreless innings. Sheets has a 2.65 ERA (although an unsightly 5.71 xFIP) over three starts.

It’s obviously too early to say if Sheets will regain his once-dominating form, but this could turn out to be the sleeper signing of the offseason. Sheets’ $10 million price tag pretty clearly scared most teams off, although considering that we’re paying Home Run Javy $11.5 million — and don’t get me wrong, unlike the rest of the ridiculous Yankee fanbase, I am in no way writing Vazquez off after a mere two starts — one can’t help but wonder whether Sheets might’ve been worth the gamble.

If nothing else, Sheets could be an interesting option if Andy Pettitte retires and the Yanks opt not to re-sign Vazquez after the season.… Click here to read the rest

Players to Watch, AL West

Hey all. How are we on this Thursday afternoon? Please excuse the relatively abbreviated post today, but I had to hand in a big paper yesterday, but was unable to because of a car breakdown. Awesome. Anyway, let’s keep this mini-series rolling and turn the proverbial spotlight to the Left Coast and look at AL West players we should check up on during the 2010 season.

Starting, as usual, with the division winner (Angels), I’m gonna pick Scott Kazmir. Kazmir started off poorly with Tampa in 2009, pitching to a 5.92 ERA with a 1.541 WHIP and a pedestrian 1.82 K/BB. Something clicked for Kazmir when he got to the Angels, though. His ERA dropped below 2 (1.73) and his WHIP improved to 1.046, and his K/BB went up to 2.60. After a few seasons of numbers tailing the wrong way, late 2009 was great for Scott. We’ll see if he can keep it up out there in L.A. or if his slide towards mediocrity will continue.… Click here to read the rest

Holy crap I'd forgotten how long the offseason truly is

Another day, another non-story about Johnny Damon.

While I’ve been very pleased with Yankeeist’s output (big ups to Mike and Jason), it’s been a bit of a challenge to come up with content given that the Yankees haven’t done anything for over a month since trading for Vazquez, and this late-January lull is starting to really rear its ugly head.

A few newsworthy items:

Interesting move by the A’s picking up Ben Sheets. Despite the Yankees having no room for him, I’ve been coveting Sheets forever, and am definitely jealous to see him on another American League team. Feels like a bit of an overpay for a team like the A’s, but hey, Billy Beane probably knows what he’s doing.

The Cubs added Xavier Nady as a fourth outfielder on a contract that could be worth as much as $5.3 million in incentives. If that’s the kind of deal a guy who played all of eight games last season is getting, you have to figure Damon is worth at least that much.… Click here to read the rest

Cubs sign Nady, A’s sign Sheets

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown, the Chicago Cubs have signed former Yankee, Xavier Nady, to a one-year deal. He will likely serve as outfield insurance but will also be a right-handed platoon option, spelling Kosuke Fukudome against left-handers.

How does this affect the Yankees’ pursuit of a right-handed bat? Well, the Yankees really wanted Nady, however, he priced himself out of the team’s budget. Jon Heyman says the deal is for $3.3M, but there are an additional $2M in incentives that could be obtained based on games played. If that’s the case, I can see why the Yankees chose to avoid Nady as he could cost over $5M. However, if Nady gets $3.3M guaranteed, there is no way Damon will settle for $2M from the Yankees, especially since Nady and Damon share the same agent in Scott Boras. The Yankees would have to offer at least $5M, plus incentives, in order to keep Damon around.

The good news is that with Nady on board, the Cubbies won’t be re-signing Reed Johnson, making him a bigger target for Brian Cashman to pursue (assuming Damon is too pricey).… Click here to read the rest