The Cubs are reportedly interested in Ben Sheets who, in turn, is interested in playing for the Cubs. I love it when true love blooms. The problem: Sheets reportedly has been asking for a two-year deal averaging around
$10 million to $12 million per year.
The Cubs would be right to balk at such an asking price for a guy coming off injuries like Sheets is, but then again, the Cubs are paying Carlos Silva $8 million per for the next couple of years, so who are they to judge.
Seriously though, Sheets may be the best choice for a team really looking to make a move next season. Obviously there are still questions about his arm, but it’s not like he’s coming off Tommy John surgery. He could easily get hurt again, but if he doesn’t he could easily be a front of the rotation starter again. Given the gamble he represents, anyone who goes for Sheets would have to have the financial wherewithal to absorb his loss if and when it happens, but I think the Cubs fit that category. So too do the Phillies and the Mets who have also been rumored to be talking to Sheets’ agent.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉