Yesterday, I spouted off on how ill-prepared the Angels were for further injuries to their starting pitchers, especially Ervin Santana. I talked about a few subpar free agent additions (i.e. Paul Byrd) they could make to cover their ass, but midway through writing that I was struck with an idea so brilliant that it needed its own entry.
Instead of fiddling with the Scott Elarton’s of the world, the Angels should aim big and sign Ben Sheets.
(NOTE: This is strictly speculation on my part and there is no rumor to suggest the Angels are considering this, so don’t ban me Mark Cuban).
Save your comments, I know Sheets is injured, but I also know he is on the recovery trail. So, it goes without saying that the Angels’ medical staff has to sign off on him before a contract is agreed upon for this idea to work.
Now, adding another injury-prone starter may not make the most sense given the fragile state of Santana and Lackey’s healthy, but Sheets is the only available arm that has big-time potential in it. All the other free agent options, well, they are unemployed for a reason. Sheets though is a power-pitching ace and a four-time All-Star. It is probably a reach to expect him to approach All-Star form so soon after elbow surgery, but even Sheets at 85% effectiveness is better than any other free agent option available.
Sheets’ target return date is supposed to be the All-Star break, so suitors are going to start lining up for him, making it imperative that the Angels make a move soon before someone else scoops him up. And if Sheets is actually healthy, he won’t come cheap. Though he is signing for a half a season, he will be expecting more than the league minimum salary. Before his elbow problem was caught during his physical, Sheets was on the verge of signing a $10 million per year deal with the Rangers. But the Angels certainly have the cash to get a deal done on Sheets for this season.
Speaking of the Rangers, they are still considered the favorites to land Sheets once he is ready. In fact, he has been working out under the medical guidance of their team doctor, something he calls just a coincidence since Sheets happens to make his home in Dallas. This might make it a bit harder to ink Sheets, but it also makes it much more important that the Angels pull it off.
The Angels and Rangers are currently tied for first place in the AL West and though it seems likely the Rangers will fade away, it is no guarantee. One of the main reasons the Rangers always fall off in the second half is that their starting pitching can’t hold up. What better way to rid them of that curse than signing an ace like Sheets at mid-season? What better way to make sure the curse isn’t lifted than the Angels stealing that ace out from under their noses? No matter what price tag Sheets places on himself, it should be worth it to the Angels if it prevents Texas from getting their hands on him. Talk about a win-win situation for the Halos.
If the Angels are really smart, they might even be able to work some incentives or triggers into the deal to keep Sheets in LA of Anaheim beyond this season if he proves to be effective. With Santana’s health up in the air, John Lackey heading into free agency and Kelvim Escobar qualifying for both those classifications, the Angels can once again cover their ass, but for next season, by throwing a little extra guaranteed cash Sheets’s way. I know it isn’t my money, but it seems like a reasonable investment to me.
Naturally, this move seems too risk-laden for the uber-conservative Angel front office to actually put into effect. I actually doubt they would even seriously consider it, just because it isn’t the way they work. Oh, well.