Ben Sheets’ Signing a Calculated Move?

Billy Beane is starting to go wild with this pitching and defense scheme he has this off-season.  His recent signing of Coco Crisp setup an outfield of Rajai Davis, Coco, and Ryan Sweeney, three plus defenders.  He’s also improved the team’s defense at the hot corner with Kevin Kouzmanoff.  With all these moves the Athletics’ pitching staff must be ecstatic.

Now Billy Beane has put the crowning touches on his off-season moves with the signing of Ben Sheets.  Ben, sat out all of last season with an elbow injury, impressed numerous scouts in a recent throwing session.  It was enough to start a bidding war that ended up with Sheets signing a one-year $10 million contract.

If sheets really is as good as he looked to scouts, the A’s will have a formidable staff.  Sheets will join re-sign Justin Duchscherer and the rest of the young, but talented Athletics rotation could have a good season ahead of them.

  ERA WHIP  
Ben Sheets 3.09 1.15 (2008)
Justin Duchscherer 2.54 1.00 (2008)
Brett Anderson 3.48 1.19 (After 2009 All-Star Break)
Dallas Braden 3.89 1.36  
Trevor Cahill 4.63 1.44  

Of course there’s a lot of hope in these figures.  Hope that Sheets and Duchscherer can return to their 2008 form and hope that Anderson continues to develop into a star pitcher.  But it is possible, especially considering the improved defense and the fact that Anderson, Braden, and Cahill are becoming more experienced.

But was this move really about the 2010 season?  Sure the defense and pitching look decent, but the offense may be nearly as bad as last season.  With the two injury recovery signings being one-year contracts, Beane may be setting up the two pitchers as trade bait.  Looking closer at it, they are two pitchers that had very good 2008 seasons, will pitch in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, and will have a plus defense behind them.  They are set up to excel and be traded at a premium for pieces that should help the team in the long-term.

You never know, the next Dan Haren could come out of the trade of one of these two.

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