Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Greatness Of Ben Sheets/The Risk Of Ben Sheets

  • Mets 4-Brewers 2; why Ben Sheets is baseball's biggest free agent prize/risk:
The biggest risk this off-season won't be made by whichever team signs the likes of C.C.
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Sabathia or the likely free agent A.J. Burnett; the biggest risk/reward will be made by the team that signs Ben Sheets of the Brewers. Yesterday's game was a microcosm of Sheets's career as he was unhittable for five innings against the Mets, using his Greg Maddux-level control along with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked curve to make the Mets look like they were an inning away from waving their hands at the field, shaking their heads, putting their bats away and going back to the hotel. Then after the fifth inning, Sheets was removed for a pinch-hitter because of tightness in his groin, the latest in a long line of injuries to just about every single part of his body going back the entire length of his career. The Mets eventually capitalized on the Brewers bullpen weakness to win the game.
Teams that are in the market for a starting pitcher after this season and have the money to pay for a pitcher of Sheets's caliber are going to have to think long and hard about whether or not to take the risk of $100+ million on a pitcher who has that ability but medical history. It's a positive that Sheets has made 27 starts this season after making a maximum of 24 in the past three years, but that can be accounted for by his impending free agency and a desire to prove that he's durable enough to make such a massive investment.
Are the Yankees going to be willing to roll the dice on another high-end talent just as they're getting out from under Carl Pavano's contract? Are the Mets going to want another $100 million pitcher in their rotation? There's been talk of Roy Oswalt openly recruiting Sheets to come to the Astros; and there are always the Angels, Red Sox and Dodgers who have the money to spend. The teams to watch are the ones who lose out on Sabathia because it would drastically increase Sheets's paycheck if a team is desperate to add starting pitching and Sheets is the only big name left on the market.
The biggest problem with Sheets is that he's got that incredible potential and is only thirty-years old, so if he goes to that new team and suddenly finds some durability, he could be a perennial Cy Young Award contender, but again it goes back to the historical problems with his entire musculature. The reason he's so tough to hit is that he has that great control
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with all of his pitches; the hitters have to start hacking at the first thing upon which they think they have a chance of making solid contact, but it's still a pitcher's pitch; then they're going to keep Sheets's pitch count down because they can't take pitches because he's not going to walk anyone. When he was removed from yesterday's game, he'd only thrown 54 pitches in five innings, so he was going to go at least until the eighth inning and would likely have pitched a complete game (that's if the Mets didn't just go back to the hotel). Someone's going to write Sheets a big check after this season, then they're going to hold their breath to see if they're going to get a Cy Young contender or a guy that's going to spend a chunk of that multi-year deal on the disabled list.
  • Yankees 13-Tigers 9:
The Yankees problems this year in a nutshell: they scored thirteen runs yesterday and were about one or two Tigers hits from having to use Mariano Rivera to close the game.
  • John McCain's VP pick goes from bad to worse:
Since John McCain referenced Gov. Sarah Palin's experience as a member of the Alaska
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PTA as a reason for her being qualified to be vice president, it made me think that my mother is also qualified to be vice president. In fact, she was president of the PTA, which, common sense dictates would mean executive experience. It's somewhat frightening that Gov. Palin is running a state whose population is roughly one-quarter the size of Brooklyn and was picked to be the running mate of a man who's 72-years-old and is looking increasingly detached by the day. Just looking at the way the job of the presidency aged both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush should give people pause from taking the gamble of voting for McCain, but his VP pick should make it out of the question. The argument being proffered that people "don't vote for vice presidents" makes sense if the president isn't someone who's at an age where he could, let's be blunt, get sick or drop dead at any moment. This is not a normal year in presidential elections. Even with all of that, the new revelations are adding to the confounding nature of the pick.
Gov. Palin was chosen to placate the evangelical base of the Republican party, but what does it say about her qualifications as a "family values" candidate as she has a 17-year-old
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daughter who got pregnant outside of marriage? I'm not going to comment on the personal life Gov. Palin and her family, but the fact that they made it a point to cover her daughter with a blanket holding her baby sister to keep the pregnancy a secret makes me wonder what they were thinking about. It was like they were going day-by-day with the pick and would worry about what happened when the story leaked (it got out three days later) and try to spin their way out of it.
The reactions of the conservative commentators were laughable. Imagine if it were one of Barack Obama's daughters who got pregnant; what would have been said in public (condescending and insulting) and in private (overtly racist) about him and his family? Just as much of the conservatives were trying to find ways to tout Gov. Palin's qualifications while backtracking or twisting their comments on Sen. Obama's lack of experience, they're hit with this scandal. The Christian right would have had a field day if it were a candidate that wasn't someone who they deemed appropriate and she's still the choice of a man who's 72-years-old.
The selection of Sarah Palin appeared to have been done without much thought and based
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on little more than a "gut feeling" on the part of Sen. McCain, which should add more questions about his judgment than to his reputation as a maverick who does things his own way. The obvious and smart pick for McCain was Mitt Romney despite any personal enmity between the two (even though those feelings seem to have cooled). Romney, despite his flip-flopping on issues is: the Republican former governor of a large, liberal state; has experience and grand success in business; and has run an almost impossible entity in the Olympic Games. Despite the contentious campaign, Romney is clearly a decent man who would be able to handle taking over as president if necessary. This isn't to imply that there's anything wrong with Sarah Palin or her family because her daughter made a mistake, but how was this not seen to be a problem when she was selected specifically because of her family values and beliefs?
The hypocrisy of the right wingers is absurd because the same people who would be lambasting Sen. Obama were he in the same position; and wanted Bill Clinton thrown out of office and into jail for perjury are defending the subterfuge of the blanket at the introductory press conference and are saying that it's a "private family matter; they were also the ones who said that Scooter Libby shouldn't have gotten any jail time for committing what was the same crime as Clinton was accused of committing. They leave out that it's a bit different to out an undercover CIA operative based on political motives and a guy lying about a sexual liaison; that it's a bit different when the conservative governor of a very small state is having the problems that a churchgoing, religious family is designed to avoid.
I'm no leftist loon either; I've voted for republicans and democrats. In fact, I was decidedly not a part of the 70% of New York State residents who voted for Gov. Eliot Spitzer; I couldn't
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tell you the name of the republican candidate, nor do I know anything about his platform or beliefs and I knew he was going to lose. Technically, I voted for the candidate, but in reality I was voting against Spitzer because I thought there was something creepy and disingenuous about him; and personally I don't care if he goes to hookers, but it's the smug sanctimoniousness and creepiness that I can't abide. After the Black Sox scandal of his own making, it turns out my instincts about him were right and I believe that they're right about this republican ticket. Vote for it at your and the United States' own peril.

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