Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is known for his “Money Ball” philosophy of high OBP guys and guys who hit the 3-run Home Run. Over the years through Beane’s tenure, the A’s became convinced that these qualities were cheaper to obtain on the open market than more historically valued qualities such as speed and contact. These observations often flew in the face of conventional baseball wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives. The A’s were also known for development of prospects especially pitchers, going back to the years of the “Big 3″ of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. Low cost players who are under team control for a number of years until they approach free agency when Beane can almost always get away with highway robbery by shipping his proven commodities to teams in contention for the other sides best prospects and can once again field a low budget team who somehow remains in contention or right in the thick of things.
It’s this philosophy that has some throughout the industry scratching their heads at the 1 year 10 million dollar deal for the oft injured – but very talented – Ben Sheets. Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 and was injured at the end of the 2008 season unavailable for the Brewers ’08 playoff run. No question about it though, if Sheets can regain his form from years prior he can be well worth the 10 million dollars and be the veteran ace of an otherwise young and inexperienced staff. All that being said, it’s still a tremendous risk for any team, much less the low-budget Oakland A’s.
The move is curious but it makes sense to me on some level. If Sheets can regain form and stays healthy – I know thats a big if – Beane can sell high on Sheets at the deadline for his coveted prospects or hold on to him and get the draft picks when Sheets signs elsewhere. Furthermore, the A’s are often scrutinized for not spending money so they go out and put 10 million on the table for a rehab project but one who has a name and a track record to go with it. Even though its as a risk to many, in my opinion the Oakland A’s and Ben Sheets have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
- MLB News & Notes
- Mets pitcher Johan Santana threw off a mound today for the first time since elbow surgery and felt no pain and pronounced himself on track for Opening Day. The story can be found here
- Former Yankees outfielder Xavier Nady, coming off his second Tommy John surgery and missing most of 2009, is reportedly close to a deal with the Cubs
- The New York Yankees have added depth to their Triple – A outfield by trading for Greg Golson
- Finally, the San Diego Padres agreed to a deal with right hander Jon Garland to round out the rotation.
Still a number of big name free agents are available but I don’t think any are bigger or more surprising then former Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon. The more time that goes by the more likely it is that Damon returns to the Yankees. As much as I like Damon and agree with GM Brian Cashman’s thought that Damon is the perfect #2 hitter for Yankee Stadium and the team’s line up – I am of the belief that the Yankees would be OK with a platoon of Brett Gardner and one of the right handed hitting free agents: (Rocco Baldelli, Joe Inglett, or Reed Johnson). Out of that group I prefer Reed Johnson. His lefty splits are impressive, he has experience in the AL East from his time in Toronto, can play all of the outfield positions, and is a hard nosed max effort and Joe Girardi’s type player. In addition, it would give the Yankees a different element in the line up allowing them to do more things like hit and run, bunt, and steal bases. It would also go along with the teams plan to get younger and more athletic.
Undoubtedly, we know what Damon brings to the table but at this point in his career he is becoming more of a liability defensively and probably a better candidate for DH and not every day in left. The signing of Nick Johnson as the teams DH certainly clouds that picture so if Damon were to return to the Yankees it would be as a left fielder. Until then, as Spring Training draws closer we’ll have to keep an eye towards the Hot Stove to see where Johnny Damon and company will be playing in 2010.