The Oakland A’s pulled off one of the shockers of the offseason when they signed free agent pitcher Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million deal. While many thought the A’s overpaid for the talented (yet oft-injured) pitcher who missed all of 2009, there were also some good feelings that a small-market club could outbid its richer competitors for a notable talent.
After today, those good feelings flew right out the window, as Sheets allowed 10 runs without getting an out in a 13-5 loss to the Reds. Sheets allowed eight hits and a walk, and also committed an error. “It was a bad one,” Sheets understated.
The “good” news is Sheets said he felt good, and that an earlier spring start in which he allowed six runs against the White Sox was, in his mind, actually worse.
A’s manager Bob Geren maintained a positive attitude after the game. And why wouldn’t he? After all, it’s not his $10 million.
“He definitely threw the ball better this time,” Geren said. “The results weren’t there. It’s the best he’s thrown since he’s been here. I’ll stay encouraged that way. This guy’s an All-Star. He didn’t like his performance. I’m not worried about his ego.”
Geren also said that he thinks Britney Spears’ music is getting better with every album, and that he’s encouraged by the signs he sees in California’s economy.
Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.