Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A's go big on oft-injured Ben Sheets


Really, A's? With all those complaints about your market and (especially) your ballpark, you can afford to spend $10 million on Ben Sheets?

I don't want to rush to judgment ... Maybe he has to pitch 180 innings to earn the full $10 million?

Over the past five seasons, Ben Sheets has averaged 120 innings: 157-106-141-198-0.

When he's actually pitched, his performance has been impeccable. Are 120 innings of impeccable performance worth $10 million, though? No.

But what about a deal for $6 million guaranteed, with bonuses for hitting certain numbers of innings? That's the sort of deal that would make sense for a guy who hasn't thrown 200 innings in a season since 2004.

And then I read this report: Sheets' contract is worth $10 million plus performance incentives. Now, "performance" might mean innings, awards, or both. If Sheets hits any of those incentives, he'll probably be worth the $10 million-plus. If he doesn't, he won't be worth even the $10 million. And you can probably guess which of those I'm predicting.

Hey, it's not my money. I can understand the desire for a talented pitcher who might provide some veteran leadership for a rotation that's populated mostly by fresh-faced kids. I just don't know how much leadership the A's will get from a guy who typically spends a good chunk of the season on the DL.