Mets imagine Sheets on their DL in 2010

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Thumbnail image for ben sheets.jpgThe New York Post is reporting that the Mets are “keeping an eye” on free agent pitcher Ben Sheets.

At first, I wasn’t sure what level of interest that implied, but it turns out the Mets are, indeed considering Sheets as a viable option for 2010.

A major-league source confirmed that Sheets, 31, would be among a group of second-tier, relatively low-cost starting pitchers the Mets will consider this offseason while continuing their pursuit of top free-agent starter John Lackey.

The story says the Mets are also considering Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis and Randy Wolf, all safer, healthier, but less-sexy options.

On the positive side of things, Sheets didn’t give up a single run in 2009 (maybe that’s what the Mets noticed). On the negative side, he wasn’t able to pitch a single inning either after having surgery in February on a tendon in his forearm.

We all know about Ben Sheets (stats). When he’s healthy, he’s very good. But he is known for his struggles in that department. Since entering the league in 2001, he has thrown more than 200 innings four times, but not once since 2004.

Sheets, a four-time All-Star, looks like a good gamble on a short-term contract. But given the injury problems the Mets had in 2009, this seems like a matchup made for the doctor’s waiting room. Then again, I can’t blame the Mets too much for imagining what a nice addition Sheets would make to their disabled list next season. After all, an injured Sheets is still better than Oliver Perez.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.