In an un-expected move, and one that could drastically improve their rotation, health impending, the A's inked free-agent right-handed starting pitcher Ben Sheets. The deal guarantees the former Brewers' ace $10 million in 2010.
This move really surprised me just in the simple fact that I didn't expect to see the A's throw $10 million at any one player, let alone a starting pitcher coming off an injury wipe-out season. Don't get me wrong, Ben Sheets has the potential to justify that salary, I just don't think there were many other teams that would have given him that much after missing a full season of play. In fact, I was thinking Sheets would get right around 5-6 million guaranteed, with incentives that could make the deal reach $10 million, but the A's went ahead and gave him the $10 mill guaranteed anyway. Sheets sounds confident in his health though, judging by his press-conference. And like I said, if he is indeed healthy and ready to contribute 30 starts atop the A's rotation, he'll be well worth $10 million, especially to the A's. I really like how Sheets fits in there, as he can lead some of their younger arms like Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. If Justin Duchscherer gets healthy and on track, the A's have the potential for a top rotation. The way I'd line them up if I were Bob Geren and Billy Beane is: Sheets-Braden-Duchscherer-Anderson-Cahill. It's tough to find a brighter set of five throughout the American League and that is a rotation that would rival their cross-bay rival Giants' as one of the better rotations in baseball.
The A's aren't quite done yet either. Billy Beane made mention that the A's were still pursuing a utility infielder and possibly a veteran reliever. There has also been whisper of the A's bringing back Johnny Damon, who had his worst season of his career in Oakland in 2001. I think an add of Ben Sheets now makes the A's relevant in the AL West, but an add of Johnny Damon could make a good A's offseason even better. Just look at what the A's have accomplished this winter. They've added some much needed right-handed power and a couple of young starting positional players in Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jake Fox without giving up a whole lot. Not too mention, they got themselves a potential 5-tool outfielder in Michael Taylor. They also signed Coco Crisp to a 1-year deal to shore up their outfield defense and add some speed to their lineup. Add the re-signing of Duchscherer and the addition of Sheets and the A's have had themselves an event-full offseason. I don't know that they're quite up to pace with the Mariners, after what they've done, and the Angels, but they look like a .500+ team who are keeping pace with an improving division.
Trevor Cole The Bay Area Sports Journal