Nov
24

The Free Agent Starter Debate: Sheets vs Burnett

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They’re both free agents, they both have top notch power arms, they have an equal amount of playoff experience (zero innings), yet one has been much more sought after this winter than the other. Widely considered to be the best non-Sabathia pitcher available this offseason, AJ Burnett has been a hot commodity, drawing rumored interest from as many as eight or ten teams. Ben Sheets, on the other hand, has heard his name garner nary a whisper early in the Hot Stove League despite starting the All-Star Game just four months ago. Why is this?

In terms of pure stuff, you’re looking at two very similar pitchers. Both work heavily off their fastball-hammer curveball combo, mixing in a changeup ranging anywhere from average to unhittable depending on the day. Burnett throws harder (average fastball velocity over the last four years is 94.9 mph according to Fangraphs), but Sheets isn’t exactly a soft tosser, averaging 92.8 mph on his heater over that time. Both have used their outstanding stuff to post historic outings; Sheets struck out 18 Braves in 2004 while Burnett no-hit the Padres back in 2001. AJ Burnett has arguably the best arm in the big leagues, but make no mistake about it, Ben Sheets ranks right up there are well.

Unfortunately for them, these two share more than just immense talent – they’ve both earned the “injury prone” label. While frequent DL trips is an unquestionable negative, it’s necessary to take a deeper look to see what’s really going on. Here’s Sheets’ DL history:

Aug 14, 2001 – Sept 21, 2001: rotator cuff tendinitis
April 25, 2005 – May 27, 2005: viral & ear infection
Aug 27, 2005: torn lat muscle (out for remainder of season)
Mar 30, 2006 – April 16, 2006: right shoulder strain
May 10, 2006 – July 24, 2006: right shoulder tendinitis
July 17, 2007 – Aug 29, 2007: sprained middle finger on throwing hand

Sheets avoided the DL in 2008, however he suffered a torn muscle near his throwing elbow late in the year (no ligament damage) and made only one start after Sept. 17th. In his eight year career he’s visited the DL six times, three times because of his throwing shoulder. The viral & ear infection is what it is, and the lat muscle hasn’t given him any trouble in the three-plus seasons since the tear. The finger injury has also been a non-factor since returning from the DL.

The shoulder issues in 2006 are almost assuredly related as they occurred so close together, so it could just be that he came back too soon (his 6.64 ERA in four starts between DL trips supports this claim). If you lump those two incidents together, then he’s basically had two problems with his shoulder since 2001, and they came four-plus seasons apart. Shoulder trouble is definitely a red flag, but it’s encouraging that he hasn’t had any problems since. There doesn’t seem to be much info available regarding his latest ailment beyond it being a torn muscle, so I can’t comment on that. It’s something that due diligence during the recruiting process needs to cover.

Now, Burnett’s DL history:

April 1, 2001 – May 1, 2002: stress fracture in right foot
Aug 19, 2002 – Sept 14, 2002: bone bruise in right elbow
Mar 29, 2003 – April 9, 2003: right elbow inflammation
April 26, 2003 – June 3, 2004: right elbow inflammation, had Tommy John surgery and returned to action the following year
March 27, 2006 – April 15, 2006: right elbow soreness (Wikipedia says a piece of scar tissue from TJ broke loose)
April 22, 2006 – June 22, 2006: more right elbow soreness
June 19, 2007 – June 28, 2007: right shoulder soreness
July 3, 2007 – Aug 12, 2007: more right shoulder soreness

Burnett also spent part of the 2000 season on the disabled list, however I can’t find the exact dates or injury anywhere. Tommy John surgery has essentially affected him in three seasons – 2003, 2004 and 2006 – and he’s experienced elbow problems in 2002 as well. Two months of shoulder problems in the middle of 2007 round out his arm troubles. The stress fracture in his foot is just one of those things, and it hasn’t given him trouble since.

So comparing the two pitchers side-by-side, Sheets’ injuries appear to be more isolated that Burnett’s. The shoulder problems occurred so far apart that it would be hard to believe they’re related, while the torn lat and finger issues are behind him. Burnett’s shoulder problem looks very much like an isolated incident, however his elbow has been a persistent problem, giving him trouble in four different seasons, however it hasn’t bothered him in over two years. Burnett just completed his first healthy season since 2005, while Sheets was about to do the same (I just can’t accept an ear infection as evidence of him being injury prone) until his late season muscle tear. And that is why you’re hearing much less about Sheets this winter, because he’s injured right now.

Despite the injuries Sheets has at least demonstrated some semblance of durability in the past, making 34 starts for three straight years (2002-2004), throwing the fourth most innings in baseball over that time. This year he was just five outs away from recording his fourth 200 IP season since ’02, something only 19 pitchers have done in that time. All told, he’s made 30+ starts in a season four times (including 2008), and 22+ starts in seven of his eight big league seasons. Burnett on the other hand has thrown 200 or more innings in a season three times, each three years apart (’02, ’05, ’08). He followed up the first two instances with less than 136 innings the next season, and it remains to be seen what he has in store for 2009. Burnett eclipsed the 30 start mark for just the second time in his career this year, and has made it to the bump for 22+ starts just five times. Long story short, Sheets has made more starts (221) and thrown more innings (1428) in his eight year career than Burnett (211, 1376.2) in his nine-and-a-half year big league career.

Okay, time to get away from all this injury stuff, it’s depressing.

I already talked about how both guys have great stuff, but it’s Sheets who makes better use of it because of far superior command and control. Since age 24, Sheets’ worst single season walk-rate is the 2.36 BBper9 he posted in 2007, meanwhile Burnett’s best single season rate is the 2.59 BBper9 he put up in 2006. Over the course of his career Sheets has walked just 1.97 batters per 9 innings, giving him a 3.85 K/BB ratio in his career. Burnett on the other hand has walked 3.71 batters per 9 in his career, and has just a 2.25 K/BB ratio. Sheets has hit just 16 batters since 2003, Burnett has plunked 21 in the last two seasons alone. Sheets has thrown more than 66% of his pitches for strikes since 2002, Burnett just over 61%. So on and so forth.

If you’re into clutchiness, Sheets has Burnett beat in WPA (2.32 to 0.35), BRAA (86.39 to 62.93), WPA/LI (1.77 to -0.22), OPS against w/ RISP (.683 to .705), OPS against in “close & late” situations (.674 to .755) … again, so on and so forth. And before we go any further, don’t even try that “ZOMG Sheets has been in teh NL his whole career!!111!” crap. Those are all career stats, and less than 38% of Burnett’s career innings have come with the Jays. That’s not nearly enough to skew the numbers that far to one side. If awards do something for you, Sheets has been an All-Star four times, and only once (his rookie year in 2001) did he make it as the token Brewer. He also got hosed in the 2004 Cy Young voting, finishing eighth despite being the best pitcher in the league not named Randy. AJ Burnett? Never been an All-Star, never placed in the Cy voting.

So while AJ Burnett and agent Darek Braunecker say they’ll only consider five year contract offers, there sits Ben Sheets – 18 months younger – all by his lonesome, all because of that muscle tear in his arm. Muscle tears are obviously serious, but it’s not like he needs Tommy John surgery or major shoulder work. We haven’t seen any reported contract demands out of Sheets and his camp, but this injury limits his marketability, especially with so many other quality free agent pitchers available. Granted, he’s still going to make some major coin, but Sheets will probably have to settle for less than he would have gotten if he finished the year healthy.

Someone’s going to pay AJ Burnett $16-18M for the next four or five years, but doesn’t it sound like Sheets would be a wiser investment, even at that price?

Categories : Hot Stove League

225 Comments»

  1. Someone’s going to pay AJ Burnett $16-18M for the next four or five years, but doesn’t it sound like Sheets would be a wiser investment, even at that price?

    no, i don’t think so.

    i think Sheets is a wiser investment at a LOWER price/shorter committment. sure.

    but for the SAME price, i don’t think the marginal upgrade in quality outweighs the current state of Sheets’ elbow.

    but that is just me, and i know i am in the minority.

    • Conan the Barack O'Brian says:

      if known, what is sheets’ asking price/duration?

      • this is the million dollar question. no one seems to know right now.

        • Jay CT says:

          I think it all comes down to years. I do think Burnett is battled tested in the AL East, so you kind of know what you are buying IF you can get him for four years. No way do I go five, which I think is the overall feeling on the deal.

          That said, I was at the All Star game, and I thought the AL was going to rough up Sheets, but his stuff was nasty. If I could get either of these guys on the Yankees on a 4 year or less deal, I would be extatic. Course, its not my money either…

          • Jay CT says:

            Also, has anyone thought about the fact that Lackey is going to be looking for a long term deal. Does anyone else think that could play into the Angels being into the Sabathia deal? Seems like Lackey would be looking for a package just a little less then CC, no?

          • Curramba says:

            NO way do I give Burnette four years. I’d rather give Sheets 3 with a 4th yr option.

    • Notice that the sentence you quoted says at the same price, and not at the same contract length.

      While I’ve been pro-Sheets for a while because I think he’ll be both cheaper and shorter, if the cheaper part turns out not to be true, Sheets on 2, 2+1, 3, or 3+1, even at 16-18M AAV, is still better than Burnett on a 4 or 5 at 16-18M AAV.

      • Bo says:

        We live in a world where Carlos Silva gets 4 yrs and 12 mill a yr.

        And you really think someone with the stuff of Sheets and his track record will have to settle for team options and 1 yr deals???

        Really?

        Maybe Sheets wants 5 years himself.

        • A.D. says:

          Maybe, but we’ve seen Hampton come out and ask for a 1 year deal, Lohse went with without testing FA waters, so the Silva deal doesn’t seem to drive the market, Dempster just resigned for not that much higher AAV than Silva did and he’s coming off a pretty big year.

        • Bill says:

          Silva benefitted from a weak free agent pitching market in which he was among the best starters available. This year there are at least 10 starting pitchers that are better than Silva was entering last offseason.

          Another thing that could drive the price down on Sheets is the economy as teams are clearly looking to minimize their payroll.

          Most reports have Sheets looking at about a 2-3 year deal worth in the neighborhood of 12-13M per year. If true that could be a very nice deal for the team getting him. Its certainly a smarter risk than 4-5 years at ~16M per for Burnett.

      • fair enough, that’s not how i read the sentence.

        if so, i agree this would be a heavy consideration.

        • radnom says:

          no, i don’t think so.

          i think Sheets is a wiser investment at a LOWER price/shorter committment. sure.

          But that is the situation. I know not a lot has been said about Sheets contract parameters, but they will not be as intense as Burnett’s. I would be willing to bet anything on that.
          The question of who you would rather have for the same contract is irrelevant, and honestly I would rather have neither of them at Burnett’s price.

          CC/Sheets ’09

          • The question of who you would rather have for the same contract is irrelevant, and honestly I would rather have neither of them at Burnett’s price.

            read above, i was just responding to what i thought i read in the piece.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

      Same price for two years I am with it. I say let us get a few guys for a less years. Garland for two, overpay him. Sheets for two really overpay him. I DO NOT WANT SLOWE OR AJ FOR 4 OR 5 YEARS.

      CC for 6 is crazy but if he will do it at that price I understand why we do that.

      The big mistake last year (not trading for Santana) can be made even bigger this year by signing guys like Lowe or AJ for too many years.

      • Slugger27 says:

        so u want garland ((who blows)) AND you are willing to “overpay” him??

        i dont even want that dude at some discount, much less would i want to overpay him… id rather throw IPK or aceves out there every 5th day

        how can you justify being willing to overpay garland, and for TWO years?

        • Bill says:

          I certainly wouldn’t overpay Garland, but if we’re looking for a relative bargain in this free agent market he might not be a bad option. A guy that can give you a ~4.5 ERA (his career ERA), 200 IP, and about 18 quality starts every year isn’t a bad investment for the bottom of your rotation.

          IPK, Hughes, and Aceves can’t give us the innigns or consistency that a guy like Garland could. If Garland would sign for something in the neighborhood of 3 years at 27-30M that wouldn’t be a bad deal at all.

        • Chris says:

          any contract for Garland would be overpaying, but I’d take him at 1yr/$5M

      • jsbrendog says:

        “The big mistake last year (not trading for Santana) ”

        ::face slap::

        dear god

        • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

          First off you would never face slap anybody in person let alone me so keep your E-tuff guy comments to none.

          Santana one of the hand full of a few great pitchers and true aces in baseball. Instead we will overpay for CC or worse.

          I would take Santana and Garland over CC and Hughes, and so would most GM’s in baseball.

          • Slugger27 says:

            “we will overpay for CC”

            u realize that 140 mill is 3 mill more than what santana signed on for… so if u were willing to do that then how can u not be willing to sign CC for what they offered… its essentially the same money except they GOT TO KEEP THEIR PROSPECTS

            and to anticipate your reply, no i do not think santana is superior to sabathia

            • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

              Hughes is the only prospect that was in the deal. The other guys are not prospects. Ian Kennedy is a joke. Melky is a below average MLB OF.

              Santana is a better pitcher than CC.

              I would like to get CC now that Santana deal is obviously not going to happen (unless there is some sort of time machine being built at the new stadium that I am unaware of).

              I would rather have also spent that A-Rod money on CC, Santana, and Manny, and plug in whoever has a glove at 3rd. That A-Rod deal and the Santana non deal may end up haunting the Yankees for many years.

              As currently constructed now we have to overpay in dollars and years just to get CC (which we still might not get him), and hope that old guys who we did not want 4 years ago and guys who get hurt a lot will accept too many years and too many millions to play for the most storied franchise in all of sports. Yeah great management job being done the last few years.

              • Jamal G. says:

                Ian Kennedy is a joke.

                Right, because 39.2 innings are a perfect sample size on which to judge a pitcher who was just five months removed from his 23rd birthday (made final starts in May before his one game in August).

              • Slugger27 says:

                regardless what u think about IPK he is a good prospect, and certainly someone that is beneficial to have in the farm system, that much is practically undebatable

                hughes is a GREAT prospect, and very highly coveted (for good reason)

                i think CC will be every bit as good 2009-2014 as santana 2008-2014, if not better

                manny wasnt a FA agent last year, and no chance in hell the sox were gonna trade him to the yanks (or anyone else for that matter)

                i dont think 6/140 is overpaying for CC, if anything its market value

              • Mike A. says:

                Santana is a better pitcher than CC.

                I respectfully disagree. Johan:

                2006: 7.16 Hper9, 5.21 K/BB, 0.997 WHIP, .258 OBPA
                2007: 7.52 Hper9, 4.52 K/BB, 1.073 WHIP, .273 OBPA
                2008: 7.92 Hper9, 3.27 K/BB, 1.148 WHIP, .286 OBPA

                All those stats are trending in the wrong directions. Plus you have to consider that he moved to the NL and continued to decline; what would those stats looks like in the AL East? Don’t get me wrong, Johan Santana’s an excellent pitcher, no doubt about it, but something’s going on there.

                I’d feel a lot safer giving a 6/140 deal to CC than Johan at this point.

                • Slugger27 says:

                  thank u mike, as usual a better post was made than mine due to my laziness and others’ diligence, but we both agree… theres reason to believe CCs 09-14 will be every bit as good if not better than johans… and we didnt have to give up a prospects package that included hughes

                  to me this way ((assuming we actually sign CC)) works out better for the yanks, and it seems pretty cut and dried

                • Jamal G. says:

                  I know I probably make a big deal about velocity fluctuation than most, but it still is a bit alarming to me that Santana lost two miles off his heater in a matter of two seasons. Now, you may be saying, “So what, dude?”, but the fact that those seasons were his age-28 and age-29 seasons, it is odd that he’s losing velocity in what is supposed to be his “prime-age years”. Also, the drop from 2006 to 2007 was stark: 93.1 MPH (2006) to 91.7 (2007). This season, his Fastball averaged 91.2 MPH.

                • mustang says:

                  “I know I probably make a big deal about velocity fluctuation than most”

                  Yes, you do the guy went 16-7 with era 2.53 and 206 K with shit for a bullpen. The drop in velocity really hurt him !!

                  Maybe wins, era, and k’s don’t count just like a Avg. with RISP.
                  LOL

                • Chris says:

                  I believe I saw an analysis (probably by Josh Kalk) that showed the peak velocity was at about age 26. The average dropoff after this was not 1MPH per year, but there was a slight decline after the peak.

                • mustang says:

                  The bottom line is that the guy wins I saw Moose win 20 games last season with a batting practice fastball.
                  If I remember correctly back in 1996 the Red Sox didn’t resign a certain 34 year old starting pitcher because he had lost some mph of his fastball. That pitcher Roger Clemens, but then again maybe he had some help.

                • mustang says:

                  ” I believe I saw an analysis (probably by Josh Kalk) ”

                  Maybe we need to look at what actually happens on the field and do a little less analysis of the numbers.

                  No disrespect to you.

                • Maybe we need to look at what actually happens on the field and do a little less analysis of the numbers. No disrespect to you.

                  Frankly, mustang, I’m surprised by this from you. This is probably the textbook case of the numbers being both helpful and reinforcing good scouting that we see with our eyes.

                  The statistical analysis says that the majority of major leaguers hit their maximum velocity at age 26, and after that, velocity slowly slides down for the rest of a pitcher’s career. It doesn’t say that a pitcher’s effectiveness declines, just velocity. And, watching, say, Johan Santana remain effective (albeit slightly less so) this past season with the Mets, when you combine this stat with what your eyes see, it tells you that we should not be overly worried by Santana’s diminished velocity, since it’s likely not a sign of any alarm that he’s “slipping” but merely the typical physiological changes that all pitchers go through.

                  The fact that most pitchers don’t throw as hard at 28 and 29 as they did at 25, compared with the other statistical (and anecdotal) axiom that players hit their peak during their late 20′s/early 30′s says that pitchers can remain effective even with diminished velocity and that velocity is only a small part of the equation, along with stuff, command, intelligence, savvy, etc. etc.

                  Looking at stats does two primary things:
                  A) Reinforces the things you actually see with your eyes as being true and important
                  B) Allows you to question and doubt the things you see with your eyes as being false or unimportant

                  We need to stop having a war against stats and empirical research. Nobody is trying to kill scouting. Modern statistical analysis is merely saying that several of the old tools of scouting (like batting averages or MPH radar gun readings) are often crude tools that don’t measure exactly what they purport to, or give too much /not enough weight to one facet of the game over another.

                • mustang says:

                  Very well said and I see your point. I just think that we sometimes put a little too much weight on stats maybe I chose a poor example of that as you so eloquently point out.

                • jsbrendog (rocks) says:

                  my head just exploded. a well thought out well articulated point (which you do often, not saying you don’t) from tommie with no jabs sarcasm or cynicism……well done sir.

            • Curramba says:

              That’s because at this point in time he’s not maybe 2-3yrs ago he was way above CC but not at his point. CC has closed the gap will probably pass Santana soon.

          • Jamal G. says:

            It wasn’t an “E-tuff” comment, he was symbolizing slapping himself in the face, you know, like a face palm?

            I would take Santana and Garland over CC and Hughes, and so would most GM’s in baseball.

            http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vuht7a&s=4

            • jsbrendog says:

              thank you, i didn’t see you wrote this lready or i would’ve left the dead horse alone. unfortunately he got another beating

              (yto clarify the dead horse referred to in the above statement is the explanation of face slap and not any one person on this board)

              just in case

          • jsbrendog says:

            obviously you dont understand the face slap. it iis when someone, namelyme, slaps their own forehead. i want no part of you in any way. i don’t need to nor would i want to slap you because it won’t change your opi9nion. face slap is what someone like i would do in disgust when reading your opinion. no one here is trying to get tough so calm down there rocky

            and you are once again, as you seem to do, basing your opinion on your opinion and calling it a fact. “overpaying for sabathia”. right. were we to trade hughges and whatever else to minny for santana and THEN had to pay him a record contract then that would’ve been OOVERPAYING. we didn’t we kept hughes and will get a bonafide #1 starter for a little bit more without giving anything up.

            and no, ask any gm if you can get in touch with any and they would all take hughes over garland and it’d be close to see which package woudl win out but IMO it would be CC and hughes because garland sucks and hughes has the chance to be good or great for a long time.

            carry on
            (bernie has better stats than mattingly)

            • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

              1) The Santana deal has many millions deferred.

              2) The current offer to CC is thought to not carry as much of the many millions deferred.

              3) CC is not as good of a pitcher as Santana, even last year in the same league when everybody and their mom thought CC had a better 2nd half. Santana was the best pitcher in baseball in last years second half. He was not able to pitch in the playoffs since he played for the Mess, but if he did I can only believe he would have at least done as well or better than CC who had nothing left for the second year in a row come playoff time.

              4) Hughes. Hughes may never amount to anything. As of today he has had about as many or more bad MLB starts than good ones. He gave us ZIPO last year. Are you ready for this kid to be our number #3 or 4 starter? THIS year? I am rooting for Hughes, but to think after last year or ever after the year before that you will get 30 something decent starts out of this kid is rather silly.

              5) Bernie was given the nickname Bambi by his peers in the 89-early 90′s. No man named Bambi was ever a better ballplayer than Donnie Baseball. Now you man name your son Bambi, but we all know that name is not suited for the sweet science of baseball where men play a boys game and guys named Bambi play the banjo while they sulk at not playing anymore.

              • 3) CC is not as good of a pitcher as Santana, even last year in the same league when everybody and their mom thought CC had a better 2nd half.

                why, because you say so?

                2nd half stats:
                Sabathia: 115 IP, 1.56 ERA
                Santana: 107 IP, 2.07 ERA

                Santana was great, but Sabathia was better.

                he pitched to a half run better ERA in 8 more innings.

                i’d love to hear the argument how Santana was better.

                • Mike A. says:

                  Dude! CG SO on one knee!!! End. of. story.

                • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

                  ERA is the only way to judge the worth of a pitcher? Again I know is this not what people on here value. But I watched them both pitch most of their starts in the second half. I think Santana was better.

                  I do give value to CC starting and winning however many in a row he did. I give a ton of value to a guy being able to do all nine pieces. One thing I value a whole lot as well is being able to win that ONE game your team wins when if you do not win you are gone and Santana did that.

                  When talking long term value I give more points to a guy in good shape. There is no questioning that Santana is in much better shape. But if you have some stat for that I would love to see it.

                  Seriously there is a big dork ratio going on here. You can agree or disagree with everything I say, that I do not care. But to think just because you pull up a couple of meaningful stats, that they are the only ones meaningful and that stats show the whole game.

                  If stats and numbers were the only and best way to run a team they would have mathmatitions (that has got to be spelling wrong) running all the teams and they would not play the games. They would just cut out dot matrix cut outs of all the players and paste them on a board and do their math homework for the games.

                • Mike A. says:

                  One thing I value a whole lot as well is being able to win that ONE game your team wins when if you do not win you are gone and Santana did that.

                  Oh come on. CC Sabathia, last day of the season, 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K against the Cubbies to put the Brewers into the playoffs.

                • One thing I value a whole lot as well is being able to win that ONE game your team wins when if you do not win you are gone and Santana did that.

                  isn’t that exactly what Sabathia did OVER AND OVER down the stretch on short rest?

                  Seriously there is a big dork ratio going on here. You can agree or disagree with everything I say, that I do not care. But to think just because you pull up a couple of meaningful stats, that they are the only ones meaningful and that stats show the whole game.

                  I AM LOSING THE ARGUMENT SO YOU ARE A DORK!!1!!!!

                • Jamal G. says:

                  I swear, this guy is Murray Chass.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  you are a dork because you have facts and i have opinions!!! and dude, check it, most teams do have mathematicians running them or at least at higher level positions who advise those who do run them. because that is how you get good talent. by examining the numbers not by going to watch them play and going, whoa this guy has grit, girt-beard, sign him up. then you would have david eckstein and no one would be happy except david eckstein.

                  but even deep down he would know he sucks

                • Doug says:

                  VORPies!!! VORPies EVERYWHERE

              • Slugger27 says:

                dude, what is your no. 5 talking about????

                thats almost as bad as the guy a few weeks ago randomly talking about de-heading a chicken with an axe

                • i’m 99% sure his Bambi comments were meant to be humorous. no big deal.

                • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

                  Yes they were for laughes, but Bernies nickname on those teams WAS in fact Bambi. That is 100 percent true.

                • DonnieBaseballHallofFame says:

                  I know most of the guys on here did not start watching the Yanks until 98 or 99.

                  I’m out for the day, talk to everybody later, I am actually going to hit some baseballs. Get your graphs and pie charts ready for me homie I’m ready :)

                • Mike A. says:

                  I’m out for the day, talk to everybody later, I am actually going to hit some baseballs. Get your graphs and pie charts ready for me homie I’m ready :)

                  Mother won’t let me out of the basement for that. It’s too cold outside, I might get sick.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  dude. you obiously have no idea what you are talking about. i have been a yankee fan since 1988 when i could first conscientiously follow sports and understand them. previously my parents had taken me to games fsince 86. so, i didnt want to go here but you’re just plain ol stuborn man.

                  here’s to one of those baseballs hitting you in the head and knocking some sense into you. maybe someone will see you play and have an opinion that you’re great and sign you and your numbers can suck so we can gloat.

                  I know most of the guys on here did not start watching the Yanks until 98 or 99.

                  once again, opinion he tries to pass off as fact. ::faceslap::

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              • 1) The Santana deal has many millions deferred.

                Fine. Nobody cares, this statement means absolutely nothing to anything any of us have ever been talking about. On the list of things to consider regarding the acquisition or possible acquisition of any of the players any of us have talked about since RAB was created, this point is like #478 in importance.

                2) The current offer to CC is thought to not carry as much of the many millions deferred.

                Again, NOBODY GIVES A SHIT. Your constant clutching at straws of no consequence is maddening.

                3) CC is not as good of a pitcher as Santana, even last year in the same league when everybody and their mom thought CC had a better 2nd half. Santana was the best pitcher in baseball in last years second half. He was not able to pitch in the playoffs since he played for the Mess, but if he did I can only believe he would have at least done as well or better than CC who had nothing left for the second year in a row come playoff time.

                Even if that were the case, that Santana is a better pitcher than CC, it doesn’t matter, because our two options in this case were to either 1) Trade away a bunch of young players who can possibly be very good and can at worst, be valuable bench players making pennies and thus, help us compete for a championship going forward for the very best pitcher in the game, or 2) Keep all those young players in our organization, helping us compete, and wait a year to sign one of the top 5 pitchers in the game.

                Even if you truly feel Santana’s a better pitcher than CC, this point still makes no sense, because CC + Phil + IPK + Melky + whomever else was ultimately going to be in that trade (Hilligoss, Jackson, Marquez, etc. etc.) is still way better than Santana by himself. It takes 25 men to make up a major league roster. The gap between Santana and CC is not worth the cost of players we would have had to give up, if there’s a gap at all.

                4) Hughes. Hughes may never amount to anything. As of today he has had about as many or more bad MLB starts than good ones. He gave us ZIPO last year. Are you ready for this kid to be our number #3 or 4 starter? THIS year? I am rooting for Hughes, but to think after last year or ever after the year before that you will get 30 something decent starts out of this kid is rather silly.

                You’re missing the point. The point is, he’s a 22 year old kid with electric stuff who was already good enough to get ML service time at a point in his life when most of his peers are still trying to master Double-A. He may be good, he may not be good. But now, we get to keep him and see if he pans out while STILL adding an elite #1 ace in CC, instead of having just Santana and his declining rate stats by himself.

                5) Bernie was given the nickname Bambi by his peers in the 89-early 90’s. No man named Bambi was ever a better ballplayer than Donnie Baseball. Now you man name your son Bambi, but we all know that name is not suited for the sweet science of baseball where men play a boys game and guys named Bambi play the banjo while they sulk at not playing anymore.

                OH MY FUCKING GOD, STOP ALREADY. This is the dumbest shit I have seen on these pages in I don’t know how long. IT’S A NICKNAME. YOU’RE BASING YOUR ARGUMENT ON A PLAYER’S NICKNAME. YOU SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT.

                You got housed in that discussion, and you lost. You made no point of any discernible value, and you fell back on empty emotion and meaningless self-serving tautologies. I understand that you like Donnie Baseball better than Bernie Williams. That’s fine, and you have that right to like anyone more than any other person. Just no that there is absolutely no quantifiable reason to claim that he was a better player than Bernie Williams, because all the evidence, ALL THE EVIDENCE, be it statistical, visual, anecdotal, empirical, etc. says that you’re wrong. The only way than Mattingly was better than Bernie is in the alternate universe where Mattingly never gets hurt. THAT’S IT. You want to live in that universe? Fine, enjoy it. But stop claiming that you know the game and we don’t, and stop trying to defend your indefensible points with inane, retarted bullshit like a player’s nickname, because you insult our intelligence and you demean yourself.

                • Sorry, should say “… just note that there is absolutely no quantifiable reason to claim that he was a better player than Bernie Williams…”

                • jsbrendog says:

                  ah proofreading. clap clap clap i thought you meant know and i was about to say…..

                • brent says:

                  longtime lurker.

                  I missed the mattingly argument but I would just point out that mattingly was an MVP a gold glover (a deserved gold glover not token gold glover) and hit .350 35 145 when guys almost never hit 40 and 25-30 was considered a big time power hitter. It’s pointless to compare eras. Ho0wever there was a 3 year stretch where mattingly was top 3 players in the game and there was no stretch like that for WIlliams who was always just a very goodplayer.

                  As for the santan thing. Gimme a break.

                  CC is not THAT much worse. Yes his conditioning worries me but with David Wells and many others it hasn’t seemed to affect longevity.

                  ALso there is all this talk about we should have made the Santana deal

                  ONE PROBLEM!!!! THEY TURNED US DOWN! We offered Melky Hughers IPK and MArquez
                  THey wanted Melky Hughes IPK and one of AJAX Bettance etc.
                  Hughes is 22 younger than when TOm GLavine had to benched to avoid losing 20 god damn games so give me a freakin break.

                  CC Hughes IPK Melky alone is > Santana.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  welcome brent, your sensical arguments are refreshing

                • Agreed, welcome, Brent.

                  If you’ve got some time to kill, and you don’t mind reading through 10 or so posts by DonnieBaseballHallofFame that make absolutely no f#@%ing sense at all and are full of juvenile self-aggrandizement, revisionist history, willful ignorance, spin, and emotion and opinion conflated with fact on a scale not seen outside of the Bush administration, here’s the actual Mattingly-Bernie flamewar from last week for ya:

                  http://riveraveblues.com/2008/.....ent-208253

                  I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts on the Bernie vs. Donnie discussion. I trust that you’ll be able to be more articulate without resorting to flawed logic and blind passion and without using DonnieBaseballHallofFame’s favorite crutch, the idiotic idea that all people who ever cite a stat must either be nerds/dorks who live in their mother’s basements and never actually watch baseball or that people who don’t share your opinion must be naive newbies who didn’t see the game that you saw and don’t understand baseball as splendidly as you do.

                • Joseph P. says:

                  All of DonnieBaseballHallOfFame’s post can be summed up thusly:

                  “I know the facts are all against me, but I saw it with my own eyes, and my eyes are better than everyone else’s, so my opinion counts more. Oh, and I’m older than you so by definition smarter.”

                  It gets old.

                • Old Ranger says:

                  Late to the show, again but the facts are Donnie was a baseball player first and foremost. Whereas; Bambi (nick name given to him because of the glasses he wore) was a great athlete (A-Jax anyone) turned into a baseball player. Remember all the “That’s Bernie”, this is one of the reasons (even being a track star) he didn’t steal many bases and didn’t get the jump on fly balls…not counting the many brain locks he got on the base paths, no baseball instincts.
                  Donnie was a HOF player but, didn’t play at the level long enough to make it…No, HOF. Bernie did an excellent job for the team, most likely one of the more stellar CF’ers we have had sense the old days. But he is not nor ever was better player then Donnie, he just played longer and very well. 27/09.

                • Late to the show, again but the facts are Donnie was a baseball player first and foremost. Whereas; Bambi (nick name given to him because of the glasses he wore) was a great athlete (A-Jax anyone) turned into a baseball player.

                  None of this matters jack shit. Donnie may have been a “baseball player first” and Bernie may have been an “athlete turned baseball player”. Nothing in any of those statements, statements, by the way, that are empty tautologies, means that Donnie is somehow a better baseball player than Bernie was.

                  In fact, not only does this statement mean nothing, it smacks of useless racism.

                  Donnie was a HOF player but, didn’t play at the level long enough to make it…Bernie did an excellent job for the team, most likely one of the more stellar CF’ers we have had sense the old days. But he is not nor ever was better player then Donnie, he just played longer and very well.

                  And Bernie did play long enough to make it, and his peak was just as good as Donnie’s peak. Seeing as how he was just as dominant as Bernie (go back and look at the thread) at his best, and yet stayed healthy and played a tougher position, I still fail to see how this argument makes any sense on anything other than a purely emotional and non-analytical level. Everything Donnie did, Bernie did better, for longer, and playing at a tougher spot.

                  Sorry, Ranger, you simply can’t articulate how Donnie was better other than saying “he just is”.

          • Sam P. says:

            I don’t think he meant face-slap to you, just face-slap to himself in the way of “I can’t believe this wacko just said what he just said”.

            So, just read things through a few more times before overreacting. Thanks!

  2. A.D. says:

    Both guys are probably going to get hurt… Sheets generally is the better pitcher when healthy, and should cost less/more flex contract… I’m for Sheets

  3. Mike W. says:

    I am on board for either, although my vote goes for the one that takes the more reasonable contract in term of contract length, which I suppose puts me in the Sheets category.

    • Conan the Barack O'Brian says:

      Anybody agree that Burnett is more likely to consider Toronto than Sheets will the Brewers? Are the Brewers even considering re-signing Sheets once Sabathia’s scenario concludes?

  4. colin says:

    i’d love it if they went cc, wang, sheets, pettitte, joba.

    and if its a money thing with tex, you can use whatever money you save on sheets over burnett/lowe towards tex

    • Yank Crank 20 says:

      Forget the Tex thing. Cash traded for Swisher so he wouldn’t have to save money to buy another 1b. All the $ will go to pitching first.

  5. it sounds like the Yankees are doing exactly what they should be doing with Burnett. they are willing to make an offer, but not willing to offer 5 years.

    if Burnett does not get a satisfactory 5 year offer, which i am not sure he has at this point, then they will come back to the yankees and talk shorter contract, higher AAV.

    i think it’s the right approach.

  6. AMS223 says:

    I love sheets, always have. I agree that he is a wiser investment overall. We could probably get him at a 3 year deal, maybe even a more lucrative deal worth 2 years with an option. His agent is Casey Close, who reps Jeter and is located in NYC so that could be a nice plus.

    CC
    Wang
    Sheets
    Pettitte
    Joba
    (and then you have hughes when sheets gets some soreness is some muscle some day)

  7. jsbrendog says:

    how much would doug melvin hate the yankees if he signed sabathia and sheets…..

  8. The drum that I have been beating for months thanks you for this detailed and persuasive analysis, Mike.

  9. Bo says:

    When Sheets actually pitches for a full season and dominates in the Al East he can be talked about in the same breath as Burnett.

    • Mike A. says:

      That’s pretty funny since Burnett didn’t pitch a full season in the AL East until this year. He dominated the Yanks this year, absolutely, but he had a 4.50+ ERA against the rest of the league.

      • Bo says:

        Well when Sheets actually accomplishes both he can be discussed in the same context. Because he hasn’t yet.

        Why are you giving Burnett negative points for actually accomplishing both of those but giving an injury prone Sheets a pass?

        Just weird.

      • can we please stop using this argument, but for and against Burnett?

        he also had a 9.82 ERA against the Orioles and a 3.65 ERA against the rest of the league. i don’t see how this is any more or less meaningful than splitting his season up by Yankees vs. Rest of AL.

        if you break any pitcher’s single season numbers finely enough, you will find a blip based on a bad start or 2. this year it was Burnett and the Orioles.

        overall, the guy has pitched to a 111 ERA+ in almost 1400 innings, while striking out close to a batter per inning. THAT is the best indicator of what Burnett can do.

        he will likely give you an ERA+ between 105 and 115.

        in other words, he is very good, but not great. and so the Yankees are looking to pay him like he is very good, but not great.

        i’m all for Sheets too, but i would like to hear what his actual market price is first.

    • Mike P says:

      And when Santana, Sabathia, Lee, Peavy, Webb and Lackey actually dominate a full season in the AL East they can be talked about in the same breath as Burnett.

      Something sound wrong there?

  10. Dillon says:

    Both guys are comparable as you pointed out so the decision is easy.

    Take the guy who’ll take less years/incentives….Sheets

    CC, Sheets, Wang, Joba, Pettitte – Welcome back playoffs!

  11. Ivan says:

    And Sheets won a Gold Medal in 00 basically carrying (him and Oswalt) that usa team.

  12. Matt says:

    Obviously the question on who you’d rather, is dependent on terms and years of the contract.

    I wouldn’t give any of these guys more than 3 years.

  13. Reggie C. says:

    Sheets is quite a risk , but if healthy he’s better than Burnett. I say go hard after Sheets and offer him a 3 year + 1 year team option contract. Offer him a AAS of $16 million, and the option year at another $16 million. Burnett isn’t going to budge from at least 4 guaranteed years, and he’ll likely demand more than 16 million if he did consider a 4 year offer.

    Sheets at a guaranteed 3 yr / 48 Million offer sits well with me. If he’s performed up to the contract, then Cash will exercise the option. We’ve got a good bullpen, so you’ve got the think that Sheets won’t get ridden hard down the stretch.

  14. Axl says:

    Burnett has pitched in the AL (EAST) the past few years while Sheets has never. Also, Burnett has shown everyone that he can handle the AL East…pitching extremely well against the two powerhouses Yankees and Red Sox.

    No, you don’t get him on that alone…but you have no idea with Sheets…

    Either way, I personally don’t like either of them. Long term contracts for injury prone pitchers isn’t the way to go…especially since they’ll net our draft picks as well…for an overall crap shoot.

    Hopefully CC signs with us…if not? I wouldn’t panic and sign one of these guys…there are other things we can do. If we don’t get CC I would throw a lot of money at Teixeira…re-sign Pettitte (over 200 innings pitched again in 08) and plug in the rest with what we can like last year (roughly 50 less runs given up with a patchwork pitching staff yet again…)

    Jon Garland is out there…he SUCKS…and his WHIP is awful…but he didnt give up that many walks…and he pitched nearly 200 innings also. We need innings eaters…and he’d be significantly cheaper and could be more worth it in the long run…seeing as we don’t really know what exactly we’re getting with AJ and Sheets…Garland we know…and with a good chance he might be even tolerable maybe…even though I don’t think this is a great idea either…but it is an “idea” after all…

    • Reggie C. says:

      We need our 3 to be better and more reliable than the likely 4/5 mix of Pettitte, Joba, and Hughes. I don’t think a 3 year contract is long-term, and in the case of Sheets it is worth the risk. Factor in the likelihood that both Burnett and Lowe are demanding longer contracts, and it only enhances the chances that the Yanks would like to chance it on a high-risk/high-reward type on a shorter length contract.

      • Axl says:

        I agree a 3 year deal would be fine…but why wouldn’t the Brewers or some other team nab him for that before us if that were the case?

        I have a feeling CC goes somewhere else. I don’t know why but I just do. I also think Teixeira won’t come to the Yankees either. We could be going through this “rebuilding period” for longer than we hoped if this is the case…

        • Reggie C. says:

          Money. I think the Brewers and Rangers among other teams are likely to offer Sheets a 3 year deal, but then it comes down to AAS. Sheets made 11M in ’08. I think the Yanks could land him on a 3 year guarantee if they won the AAS war. A 5M increase in AAS could do it.

          I’m not going to walk around it: Burnett and Lowe want 5 yr deals and if they take 4 yr deals it’ll be b/c teams offer them AAS of at least 17/18 ML.

          Sorry…but Cash should opt for Sheets in that situation.

    • The Mad Prince in Pinstripes says:

      Axl,

      I agree with you on not rushing to sign Burnett/Lowe/Sheets if we don’t get Sabathia, but I tend to think we have to sign one of them, in which case I go with the least injury risk and highest inning eater: Lowe.

      I simply do not think that a patchwork rotation is a good idea. We need to have 5 starters lined up before the season starts. Patchwork needs to cease.

      And yes, NO GARLAND.

      • Axl says:

        Agreed. If do or don’t have CC I see 1 of these pitchers being fine. When we start getting 2 or 3 of them with 4-5 year deals a piece…not only do we not know what they’re going to be like towards the end of their deals…we don’t really even know how they’ll do at the start of them…

        It’s going to be interesting to see what happens anyway…

  15. The Mad Prince in Pinstripes says:

    “AJ Burnett has arguably the best arm in the big leagues”

    Really? You sure you want to make that comment? You might want to rethink that one Mike.

    The AJ vs. Sheets comparison is like comparing Apples to Apples. They are pretty much the same when it comes down to risk. If you you’re going to sign either of them, then yes, you sign the guy willing to take a shorter deal. I guess that would be Sheets. I’m not high on either of them. Too much risk with side dish of Pavano-esque nightmares.

    If you don’t get CC Sabathia, you have to target inning-eaters at the very least. I suppose Derek Lowe fits that bill, but I’m not too stoked about that possibility either.

    For all the hype this FA class is getting, there really isn’t THAT much of a sure thing beyond Sabathia and Teixeira.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: sign Pettitte NOW. Then at least you have three starters instead of two.

    I am radically opposed to any mention of Phil Hughes in the rotation until 2010 at the earliest.

    • Ivan says:

      Well Mike is just saying that AJ might have the best pure arm in baseball in concern with ofcourse of sheer talent. Plus, he said arguebaly the best arm in baseball so it wasn’t like he mean’t to say it like no doubt about it.

      • yeah, i don’t see what is so controversial about that. he didn’t say “best pitcher”.

        Burnett has a great arm.

        only 3 starters in all of baseball overaged more MPH for fastball:

        Fastball (mph): Starters
        Ubaldo Jimenez 94.9
        Felix Hernandez 94.6
        Ervin Santana 94.4
        Josh Beckett 94.3
        A.J. Burnett 94.3

      • The Mad Prince in Pinstripes says:

        I can think of a number of power arms that I’d much rather have than AJ Burnett at 100% health.

        Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Josh Beckett to name a few.

        • The Mad Prince in Pinstripes says:

          MPH doesn’t necessarily make a great arm.

        • Ivan says:

          He’s talkin sheer stuff. Pure Talent.

          Hey Shields is better than Burnett but in concern with stuff Burnett beats him.

          Plus, Burnett had the best “stuff” on the Jays pitching staff. Not the best “pitcher” but the best stuff. Heck even McGowan had better stuff than Halladay but of course wasn’t better than Halladay.

          Say what you want about Burnett, the dude does have a great arm and very few people can macth AJ Burnett when it comes to “stuff”.

    • A.D. says:

      This is why its arguable… I’d probably go with King Felix for best arm, but I’m not a scout.. the point is you can’t knock Burnett in terms of raw talent & “stuff”

  16. adam b. says:

    great points all around, everyone gets all excited about burnett because he dominates us, that should not be a deciding factor for signing a pitcher. he’s older, he’s been nothing but injury prone his whole career and to be honest after he gets his fat contract i dont see him working that hard. sure he’s got great stuff but so does sheets, it makes infintely more sense to sign him over burnett, its a case of buying high on burnett or buying low on sheets, you can get a guy with stuff just about as good with some risk but for a three or two year deal instead of burnett’s insane five year deal requests. i think if the last few years have shown us anythign is that there are no sure bets in free agent pitching, but you look at burnett’s history and its hard not to see BUST written all over him, dont let the flashes of brillance fool you, they’re only flashes.

  17. Sean says:

    Sheets is the better fit for the yankees. Fair or not Burnetts numbers show him to be motivated when it is beneficial to him. Maybe it’s not true and he’ll come in and dominate but I have a bad feeling he’ll be closer to a Jack McDowell/Unit/Kevin Brown than he is to a Moose or first signing Roger.

    Signing Sheets is a short term investment on a highly talented, highly motivated individual. To me it’s worth the risk that he’ll get injured. If he can start the year with the Yankees he’ll give Hughes and or Kennedy some needed time on the farm. If/when he gets hurt they bring up either of those guys to take his place> Key is having him healthy in the playoffs.

    • The Mad Prince in Pinstripes says:

      Sean,

      I agree.

      Regardless of who we get, we need to get someone to help erase the possibility of the Yankees throwing Hughes into the rotation any time soon.

      I say trade Kennedy.

    • . Fair or not Burnetts numbers show him to be motivated when it is beneficial to him.

      how come no one makes this argument about Sheets?

      he threw a career high in innings in 2004, then he signed a 4 year deal in 2005 and didn’t approach 200 innings again until his contract year.

      i’m not saying i believe this about Sheets, but it seems like i read this everywhere about Burnett, yet Sheets seems to show the same exact pattern.

    • Chris says:

      What more does Kennedy have to do/learn in AAA? He pitched there most of this season in AAA, and did great. He had more than 1 K/IP, a 4:1 K:BB ratio, and an ERA of 2.35. He needs to pitch significant innings in the majors to see whether he’ll be able to succeed or not.

  18. MS says:

    While I prefer Burnett or Lowe over Sheets, I would settle for Sheets if that means we have more money to get CC and Tex. If we get CC and Burnet (or Lowe) I don’t think we go after Tex. So it may be do we want:
    A-CC, Sheets, Tex
    B-CC, Burnett, a lesser hitter.

    We know Tex is the best hitter available, but we don’t know if Burnett is that much better than Sheets.

  19. John D says:

    I like Sheets a lot, always have, but as many others have said much depends on the length of contract. if sheets can be had for 2 w/team option for a 3rd, I think the Yanks would be crazy not to cast aside Burnett and Lowe and take the risk on Sheets. Likewise, they’d be crazy to give Burnett 5 years and/or Lowe 4 years. I really hope they don’t go there. That’s just too long for those guys. if those 2 can get that with some other team, God Bless and have fun. In theory, I’m fine with Burnett for 4, Lowe for 3 or Sheets for 2+, but no longer for any of those guys. Assuming the Yanks sign CC, we’re talking about a #3 starter in ’09 and #4 (when Joba slides up) in ’10 so I’m not sure it makes a huge difference which one of the 3 they pick. You simply can’t predict who is going to be most productive or who’s going to get injured and who isn’t, i.e. Wang in ’08 or which free agent pitcher will be a horse and which one won’t, i.e. Mussina vs. Pavano. Pick one, pay them well, but don’t go to long on the terms of the contract. let that be someone else’s mistake.

  20. jsbrendog says:

    cashman should just trade melky and ipk to cincinatti for edinson volquez. he sucks because he hasn’t yet.

  21. jobatheheat says:

    Great article. Couldnt agree more. Sheets is the answer. Please resign petit.

  22. dave says:

    sign both and tex

    wang, sheets, aj, pettitte, joba, hughes

    sheets 4- 60
    aj 4 – 66
    tex 6 – 130

  23. Count Zero says:

    I too would prefer Sheets. But consider this…

    All the GMs in MLB (not to mentions Sheets’ agent) have access to the same numbers we do. Furthermore, they know he’s younger and a better long term investment. We’re all in synch on this, yes?

    What we don’t know (but can assume Sheets’ agent does know, and the GMs have at least some inkling) is what exactly is the current condition of Sheets’ arm.

    Ergo — if everyone agrees that Sheets > Burnett — why would he and his agent settle for a significantly lower offer? Why would GMs like Cashman be uninterested in negotiating with him? Common sense leads you to suspect they all know something about his injury that we don’t.

    In summary: I am wary of Sheets specifically because everyone with more information than me seems to be wary of him. I guess that makes me a follower instead of a leader? ;-)

    • Chris says:

      It’s also possible that all of the other GMs are using this same line of reasoning. Just because everyone believes something doesn’t make it true. One example is Kyle Lohse last year. No one would touch him until spring training, but he ended up pitching pretty darn well.

      • Count Zero says:

        Also true. However I am concerned that his agent isn’t touting his health and posturing that it will take Burnett money to get him signed. But he could just be waiting for CC to set the market.

        • jsbrendog says:

          either way nothing gets done until he takes a physical and any contract signing is contingent on his health…..at the time

  24. Zack says:

    Wait wait, I am confused here. You say about Sheets: “The shoulder issues in 2006 are almost assuredly related as they occurred so close together, so it could just be that he came back too soon (his 6.64 ERA in four starts between DL trips supports this claim). If you lump those two incidents together, then he’s basically had two problems with his shoulder since 2001, and they came four-plus seasons apart. Shoulder trouble is definitely a red flag, but it’s encouraging that he hasn’t had any problems since.”

    Then about AJ: “Tommy John surgery has essentially affected him in three seasons – 2003, 2004 and 2006 – and he’s experienced elbow problems in 2002 as well….So comparing the two pitchers side-by-side, Sheets’ injuries appear to be more isolated that Burnett’s. The shoulder problems occurred so far apart that it would be hard to believe they’re related, while the torn lat and finger issues are behind him. Burnett’s shoulder problem looks very much like an isolated incident, however his elbow has been a persistent problem, giving him trouble in four different seasons, however it hasn’t bothered him in over two years.”

    Ahhh, do I detect more than just a SLIGHT bias here? AJ had TJ surgery in 2003 and missed most of the 2003 and half the 2004 season b/c of it. Then, it flared up again in 2006 and he clearly came back too soon. Same thing as Sheets. But, as you say, it hasn’t returned since.

    So while Sheets missed the equivalent of a season between the torn side muscle and shoulder issue, Burnett, who missed basically the same amount of time, just over two seasons because of when it happened, gets the negative spin?

    You conclude that “Burnett’s … elbow has been a persistent problem, giving him trouble in four different seasons, however it hasn’t bothered him in over two years.” The dude had TJ surgery. You miss a year for that and can’t choose when that happens. He came back from it, and other than one surgery related issue, his elbow has been just fine.

    On the other hand, Sheets just THIS PAST SEASON, hurt his elbow. Reported as no tear, its still a major major red flag. But you ignore that. In the end, you use the following incredibly shoddy justification for Sheets: “despite the injuries Sheets has at least demonstrated some semblance of durability in the past, making 34 starts for three straight years (2002-2004), throwing the fourth most innings in baseball over that time.”

    Are you seriously going to go back to 2004, 4 SEASONS AGO, to argue that Sheets is a better bet to pitch more innings? Shoot, 4 seasons ago so was Pedro, but that doesn’t make any sense for now.

    And then: “Long story short, Sheets has made more starts (221) and thrown more innings (1428) in his eight year career than Burnett (211, 1376.2) in his nine-and-a-half year big league career.”

    Again, since 2004, Burnett has 2 200 IP seasons, Sheets not even 1, and this season, the year he came close, he ended the seasons INJURED. Since 2004, Burnett has been the better, more reliable pitcher, and has done it mostly in the AL EAST.

    I expect better analysis from you guys. You can’t use pre-2005 as a justification for Sheets, who has not been the same pitcher since.

    • Zack says:

      Wow, sorry that was so long…

    • Chris says:

      In the past 5 years, Sheets worst ERA+ is 117. Burnett’s best ERA+ in that time is 119. So basically Burnett’s best year is equal to Sheet’s worst year.

      • Zack says:

        Yes, with over 100 less innings, in a far inferior league/division, and while ending the season with a major red flag. If you take away this past season, their era+ is basically the same. And again, Burnett is not coming off an injury.

        But that wasn’t really my point. My point was that the above analysis that seems to argue for SHeets as less of an injury risk does so with very suspect analysis…

      • So basically Burnett’s best year is equal to Sheet’s worst year.

        not really you can’t look just the rate stats.

        i would take Burnett’s 2008 season over any of Sheets’ seasons from 2005 – 2007.

        a season is not just ERA, just like it’s not just innings pitched. it’s the combination of the 2.

        in the last 5 seasons, i would probably rank their seasons like this:

        1. Sheets 2004
        2. Sheets 2008
        3. Burnett 2005
        4. Burnett 2008
        5. Sheets 2005
        6. Burnett 2007
        7. Sheets 2007
        8. Burnett 2006
        9. Sheets 2006
        10. Burnett 2004

        • Sounds pretty evenly split. So, if they’re basically the same pitcher, and if we don’t really NEED another starter (since we have CC-Wang-Joba plus all our young kids as back-end options) but merely WANT another starter to give quality innings while the kids improve in Scranton and gain confidence and innings…

          …then clearly, as long as Sheets can pass a physical and be ready by spring training (which he and his agent claim are both true), he’s a better option since he’d take a 2+1 or a 3+1, while Burnett already has 4′s on the table and is holding out for a 5.

          If they’re the same pitcher, we should take the one who asks for a shorter contract and less money. The minute I hear that Sheets is demanding a 5 year deal, I promise I’ll shut up about him.

          • …then clearly, as long as Sheets can pass a physical and be ready by spring training (which he and his agent claim are both true), he’s a better option since he’d take a 2+1 or a 3+1

            we are in total agreement on this.

            Sheets on short deal > Burnett on long deal.

            • jsbrendog says:

              thirded. i’ve always liked sheets mroe too. sheets is one of those guys every yr in spring training i say oh man he could have a shot at the cy young this year (just like i do with oswalt) and every yr he finds some way to eff me

    • Mike A. says:

      So while Sheets missed the equivalent of a season between the torn side muscle and shoulder issue, Burnett, who missed basically the same amount of time, just over two seasons because of when it happened, gets the negative spin?

      That’s true, I could have worked it better. The point I was trying to make is that Burnett’s injury troubles are more serious than Sheets’. Elbow surgery has come along way, but any time you have to start slicing a pitcher’s arm open it’s bad news.

      On the other hand, Sheets just THIS PAST SEASON, hurt his elbow. Reported as no tear, its still a major major red flag. But you ignore that.

      I did not ignore it. All we know is that it’s a muscle tear at this point, and we still have no idea how severe. I mentioned that that’s something a team would have to look further into if they’re considering signing him. What am I supposed to do, make stuff up?

      Again, since 2004, Burnett has 2 200 IP seasons, Sheets not even 1, and this season, the year he came close, he ended the seasons INJURED. Since 2004, Burnett has been the better, more reliable pitcher, and has done it mostly in the AL EAST.

      Since 2004:

      Burnett: 851.2 IP in 131 starts, 3.78 ERA
      Sheets: 839.1 IP in 128 starts, 3.24 ERA

      IP & start totals are essentially the same (IP/GS is nearly identical), and the half-run ERA difference accounts for the DH. The AL East is a tough division, but it’s not some mythical unicorn division. There are plenty of good teams in the NL, and four of the five NL WS teams & three of the five NL WC teams since ’04 have come from the NL Central, where Sheets has pitched.

      • Mike A. says:

        And again, it’s because Sheets is hurt right now. If Burnett was the one that finished the year hurt, their roles would be reversed.

      • Since 2004:

        Burnett: 851.2 IP in 131 starts, 3.78 ERA
        Sheets: 839.1 IP in 128 starts, 3.24 ERA

        IP & start totals are essentially the same (IP/GS is nearly identical), and the half-run ERA difference accounts for the DH.

        i’m honestly not trying to be difficult, but this looks to me like a pretty good argument in FAVOR of signing Burnett (and Sheets).

        i understand the point of your piece, i really do.

        i am just saying that that there are lot of people here UNEQUIVOCALLY opposed to signing AJ Burnett. but these numbers seem to show that, hey, AJ Burnett is *almost* as good as Ben Sheets.

        i would be happy if the Yankees wind up with either of these guys and add a bat.

        • Ivan says:

          I can’t wait for the 09 season to begin and see how both pitchers do.

        • i am just saying that that there are lot of people here UNEQUIVOCALLY opposed to signing AJ Burnett. but these numbers seem to show that, hey, AJ Burnett is *almost* as good as Ben Sheets.

          I hope you’re not referring to me, because as i explicitly stated in some previous thread (don’t remember which one), I’m merely equivocally opposed to Burnett, not unequivocally.

          I never said that Burnett wasn’t good. What I said was:
          A) Sheets is just as good, probably better;
          B) Sheets has a depressed market, due to his injury at the end of the year, although his injury does not necessarily mean he’ll miss any time in 2009 or beyond;
          C) Due to Point B, the hot stove consensus is that Sheets will accept a contract of a shorter length and possibly a smaller AAV than Burnett, and may be amenable to options, unlike Burnett;
          D) Since Sheets is both younger now and requiring a contract of a shorter length, we would be paying for fewer of the most injury prone years of a pitcher’s lifespan (the mid-to-late 30′s);
          E) They both have enough of an injury risk that you should be wary of giving them contracts of any significance; thus mitigating the happenstance advantage that Burnett currently has of not being injured at this moment;
          F) The preponderance of risks of Burnett outweigh the immediate risk of health of Sheets.

      • Zack says:

        Right, but again, you are INCLUDING 2004. SINCE 2004, its a totally different story. The difference between looking at the past 5 years vs. the past 4 is HUGE. As in 100 innings huge.

        And that was my whole point. 5 seasons sounds pretty nice, but looking at the past 4, Burnett has been the better more reliable pitcher.

        Again, I’m not advocating signing Burnett for 5 years or even 4. I don’t want either of them.

        But I still fail to see how the above biased analysis makes the case for Sheets. Saying that Burnett’s injury history is more severe than Burnett’s is true, in that he had surgery. But with the past 4 seasons as a guide, Burnett is more likely to be the better bet. Its really hard to argue against that if you go with the past 4 seasons…

        • Fine. Using your totally arbitrary and utterly self-serving cutoff line of “Since 2004″, as you say, Sheets has:

          1) Missed a month at the start of 2005 with an ear infection
          2) Missed the last month of 2005 with a torn lower back muscle
          3) Missed the last two weeks of Spring Training and the first two weeks of the 2006 season with a shoulder strain (possibly related to #2)
          4) Missed two months a few weeks later with shoulder tendinitis (probably related to #3)
          5) Missed a month in the middle of the 2007 season with a sprained middle finger
          6) Missed the last month of the 2008 season with a torn forearm muscle near his elbow

          Burnett, meanwhile, has:

          1) Missed the last two weeks of Spring Training and the first two weeks of the 2006 season with elbow soreness (possibly related to his 2003 TJS)
          2) Missed two more months a week after returning from the DL with more elbow soreness (still possibly related to his 2003 TJS)
          3) Missed two weeks in mid 2007 with shoulder soreness
          4) Missed another month a month later with more shoulder soreness

          ————————–

          Or, look at it this way:

          2005
          Sheets – Had a infection at the start of the year and later tore a back muscle at the end of the year, made 22 starts, pitched 156.7 innings for MIL to an ERA+ of 128 and a WHIP of 1.066
          Burnett – Healthy (just under two full years removed from TJS at the start of the year), made 32 starts, pitched 209.0 innings for FLA to an ERA+ of 115 and a WHIP of 1.258

          2006
          Sheets – Missed about two and a half months of the year with nagging shoulder issues, made 17 starts, pitched 106.0 innings for MIL to an ERA+ of 119 and a WHIP of 1.094
          Burnett – Missed about two and a half months of the year with nagging elbow issues, made 21 starts, pitched 135.7 innings for TOR to an ERA+ of 115 and a WHIP of 1.305

          2007
          Sheets – Missed a month with a sprained finger, made 24 starts, pitched 141.3 innings for MIL to an ERA+ of 117 and a WHIP of 1.238
          Burnett – Missed a month and a half with nagging shoulder issues, made 25 starts, pitched 165.7 innings for TOR to an ERA+ of 119 and a WHIP of 1.189

          2008
          Sheets – Missed a month (including the playoffs) with a torn muscle near his elbow, made 31 starts, pitched 198.3 innings for MIL to an ERA+ of 139 and a WHIP of 1.150
          Burnett – Healthy, made 34 starts, pitched 221.3 innings for TOR to an ERA+ of 105 and a WHIP of 1.342

          What does all that say?
          1) Burnett has been more durable and dependable than Sheets over the past 4 years. But not by much. ’06 and ’07 are practically identical. Burnett had two healthy years at the beginning and end, while Sheets missed time at the beginning of ’05 with a fluky infection and ended it with a torn muscle that likely could have been the cause of his shoulder issues the following year. He also got hurt three months ago and missed the three starts in September that likely would have allowed him to equal Burnett’s 34/221.3 line.
          2) Sheets has been the better pitcher than Burnett, EASILY, in each of the past four seasons. What we’re really talking about is a single elbow flare up in September of 2008 and an ear infection in March, 2005, and if you take those out, they’ve basically taken the mound the exact same number of times, but Sheets has been much better than his peers and kept runners off the basepaths/created more outs than Burnett constantly.

          I fail to see how “…with the past 4 seasons as a guide, Burnett is more likely to be the better bet. Its really hard to argue against that if you go with the past 4 seasons” as you claim.

          • Zack says:

            My argument is hardly “totally arbitrary and utterly self-serving cutoff line of “Since 2004.” Well, it is as arbitrary as the original argument of this post, which, if you had actually read or thought about it instead of choosing to try and be cute and insult, was my original point. If you go by the “totally arbitrary and utterly self-serving cutoff line of including 2004″ Sheets looks better.” If you go by the “”totally arbitrary and utterly self-serving cutoff line of ‘Since 2004,” Then AJ Burnett looks better.

            But to try and then spin it like Sheets is therefore the better bet to stay healthy and the better pitcher is questionable at best.

            Being a better investment has more to it than just era+. Innings pitched, level of competition, chances to fulfill the value of the contract etc play a factor. And using the “totally arbitrary and utterly self-serving cutoff line of “since 2004,” as even your analysis above proves, Burnett has the edge. Adding in one more season now over 4 years ago is far more arbitrary.

  25. Chris K. says:

    While I tend to agree that Sheets is the better signing based on terms of a possible deal, there is no guarantee he won’t command more if he signs later then AJ. So, yeah, if you can lock him up now for a deal at 3+1 and 16 mil, I would do so.

  26. Evan V says:

    didnt burnett pitch against us in the world series?

  27. Evan V says:

    nope, my mistake

  28. My Pet Goat says:

    That’s some serious perspective. When a side by side comparison makes Ben Sheets look durable, you know you have some issues staying healthy.

    Both of these guys will break your heart.

  29. Elston32 says:

    Good points are made by many people here. However, we should hope that some of these pitchers will actually want to join the Yankee organization – and/or can thrive in the added pressure environment. Money talks – but in the Bronx the personality of the player will play a great part in their success (or lack thereof as we’ve seen many times).

  30. Jamal G. says:

    Sorry to hijack the thread like this, but what the hell is up with all the people advocating a Jon Garland signing?

  31. andrew says:

    give me sheets, or give me death!

  32. canadian tuxedo says:

    a rotation of cc wang joba sheets and pettite with hughes waiting in the wings sure sounds good to me

  33. Curramba says:

    I’d take Sheets in a over Burnette in a heart beat and hope Cash at least takes a look at Sheets.

  34. Mike Pop says:

    Simple answer to this.. Whoever requires less years but Im a Burnett guy..But obviously if we are talking years its gonna be Sheets…..

    I do think Burnett is the better pitcher though..If Sheets comes to the AL and has a couple years with his ERA over 4 and AJ goes to the NL and has ERA’s under 3.5.. Then technicially they are the same pitcher…

    I just feel like Burnett has the better potential to go out there and dominate on certain days but the problem is he can suck real bad on some of the other ones

  35. Joltin' Joe says:

    Sheets > Burnett, end of discussion. Look at their career WHIPs. Look at their adjusted ERAs. And, as Mike A. revealed vividly, Sheets really hasn’t had as many injuries as we seem to think (or as many as Burnett). If the same contract demands or less, its a good deal. Get Sheets.

    • Bo says:

      He ended the season with major injury issues. That’s overloooked now?

      The one complaint about Burnett is that he pitches well in contract years and people assume he’ll mail it in for 4-5 yrs. No complaints about his stuff, talent, AL East pedigree.

      Why is Sheets gettinf a pass for always being hurt and pitching in total obscurity for 7 yrs? When Mil actually played meaningful games this yr what was Sheets rec after the ASG?

      I think we have learned our lesson with these NL pitchers.

      • The one complaint about Burnett is that he pitches well in contract years and people assume he’ll mail it in for 4-5 yrs. No complaints about his stuff, talent, AL East pedigree.

        Dead wrong. There’s way more than “one” complaint about Burnett. Such as:
        1) He pitches less effectively in non-contract years, as you mentioned
        2) He’s a BIG injury risk. His injury history is significant, longer and more serious than that of Ben Sheets. He’s had recurring elbow issues ever since TJS, plus shoulder and back issues, all in the past two years.
        3) He wants big money and a 5 year deal.
        4) He’s wildly inconsistent and looks like an ace one month and like a scrub the next.
        5) He walks a ton of guys and has peripherals that suggest that, while he does strike out a lot of guys, he’s just not truly that great of a pitcher.
        6) He’ll be 32 on Opening day and is asking for a contract to pay him through his age 35 and 36 seasons.

        Why is Sheets gettinf a pass for always being hurt and pitching in total obscurity for 7 yrs? When Mil actually played meaningful games this yr what was Sheets rec after the ASG?

        Obscurity? Really? This bullshit again? You know, it’s not like the Marlins and the Jays were in the damn pennant race every year. Burnett has been on crappy teams just as much as Sheets. Did I miss the 30 career starts in September where Burnett totally manned up and willed the Jays or the Marlins into the playoffs? You’re clutching at straws that aren’t even there in the first place. The only time A.J. Burnett was on a team that made the postseason, he’d been on the DL since May.

        I think we have learned our lesson with these NL pitchers.

        That’s funny, I constantly hear how the Sox are geniuses for having the balls to acquire Josh Beckett (an NL pitcher) or Curt Schilling (an NL pitcher)… and the Blue Jays acquired the very same A.J. Burnett you’re touting when he was a (gasp!) NL pitcher… Perhaps not all NL pitchers are disasters, maybe, you know, good NL pitchers can make the transition…

  36. brent says:

    Sheets at 3 +1 15 is probably a more realistic number.
    AJ aat 17 for 5 or even 4 +1 is frightening.

    I still don’t buy this Kool AId everyone is drinking that we need TWO big starters.

    CC
    Wang
    JOba
    Petite
    Hughes/Aceves/Paul Byrd/ Kennedy/Bettances/Your mother/who cares/this is #5 ho only needs to go 8-10 with a 5.00 era.

    The target list should be any one of the pitchers and then Texiera
    CC
    Sheets
    AJ
    Tex

    • brent says:

      Ok .. . I changed my mind

      CC
      AJ
      Sheets
      Tex.

      SO that tells me that this so close that you’d be better served going for the smaller deal. That being said. I sure do like Burnett in a short series behind CC and Wang. Yikes

  37. Bo says:

    This thread makes it seem like Sheets is a workhorse. Which is absurd. If you are going Sheets over AJ because of injury issues ,thats hilarious. Why not just sign Ollie Perez? At least hes always healthy, isn’t coming off a major injury and his stuff is just as good.

  38. brent says:

    well now that you say that I’ve been getting screamed at on pro sports daily about the Perez thing/.

    IOf you can get a nice young healthy poerez (a lefty in yankee stadium remeber) for 4 years a 14 million thats not a terrible idea. In 4 years 14 million will be Paul Byrd money. Randy wolf money. I look at Perez and see a yong lefty who is pretty healthy and seems to be putting it together. He has a ++ FB and aas ++ slider from the left side. Pitches reasonably well in big games. has pitched in NY and may get better.
    Don’t slag perez anymore. If Boras wasn’t his agent we’d be discussing this more seriously

    • Mike Pop says:

      BUT THE WHIP !!!!!

      • Rick in Boston says:

        It’s not just the WHIP. It’s the complete lack of control:

        2002- 90 IP, 48 BB
        2003 – 127.2 IP, 77 BB
        2004 – 196 IP, 81 BB
        2005 – 103 IP, 70 BB
        2006 – 112.3, 68 BB
        2007 – 177 IP, 79 BB
        2008 – 194 IP, 105 BB

        • brent says:

          yes. But again I just want to point out that Perez is an all or nothin guy. Dice K and NOlan RYan walked the park too.
          We are taling about our # 3 or #4 here. In Perez’s case he would be our #5.
          As a number 5 you’d get the super man perez in half the starts and the out in the 5trh inning with 3 er 5 bb and 7k Perez in the other half.

          Like i said we have to keep in mind that ALL these gus are deeply falwed after CC

          • Rick in Boston says:

            Perez is more flawed than some of our internal pieces (like Hughes):

            Perez – 1.3 HR/9IP
            Dice-K – 0.89 HR/9 IP
            Ryan – 0.54 HR/9 IP

            Both Dice K and Ryan averaged more than 6IP per start. Perez has lasted less than that. It’s not that Perez is flawed, he’s beyond flawed. And then you can add in the fact that he’s never pitched in AL.

            • brent says:

              I agree somewhat. I’m just pointing out IM not sold on AJ or sheets.
              My post argues that we DONT NEED 2 pitchers

              CC
              Wang
              Joba
              Pettie
              Hughes/Aceves/IPK/Waiver WIre/ whoever

              AND texiera

              Im arguing that Perez Sheets and Burnett have ace stuff but are not aces because for differenct reasons none can be counted on to be effective for 35 starts for 4 years.

              My case is you go with the above rotation and wait to next year and see about Haren Harden WEbb etc if we can’t make it with what we have

          • Mike Pop says:

            You want to pay your 5th starter 14 a year no thankss

  39. brent says:

    I KNOW I KNOW!!!!! LOL
    Listen there is now denying he is mystifiying at times.

    We all know that. But is Burnett any less madening??
    We have had the “privelege” of not watching him go 3-2 and plunking or walking the park on his off nights.
    I see Perez as a lefty and healthy AJ.
    How much better is AJ?
    Come on ther truth is after CC we are dealign with a bunch of DEEPLY flawed guys here.
    It’s pick your poison.
    Sheets /. . . . injuries
    AJ. . . .injuries and even worse madding inconsistency
    Perez. . . . maddening inconsistency

  40. Mike Pop says:

    Simple Answer— Burnett, he threw a no-no

  41. Double-J says:

    I’d take whichever is going to come cheaper with more flexible options. Lately I’ve been leaning towards Sheets, but the rumors about his late-season injury have me a bit worried. Of course, Burnett could turn into Pavano II, so I’m really not overwhelmed with either on the injury front. But stuff wise, either one of these guys would be great addition.

  42. Joe says:

    Is no one else worried that CC was getting crushed in the AL before he went over to the NL and became this “godlike” pitcher to everyone?

  43. p2 says:

    Good article. It makes me feel better because I don’t think the Yanks are going to get CC or AJ. They can then center on Sheets.

  44. RollingWave says:

    I think these are solid points, and given a closer thought, if their asking price is simliar, I’d still be giving a bit more consideration to Sheets, who also happens to be 2 years younger

    • LeftyLarry says:

      I would much rather have AJ Bunrett.He’s finally gotten it.He knows how to stay healthy now and nobody has better stuff.He will be the true steal of this Free agency period at age 32.
      I’d grab him at all costs and not have to worry about Sabathia still fitting into his uniform in 2 years.
      Sheets is nice but I think Burnett can get hot and totally shut down a team in the playoffs.
      It’s a no-brainer.

  45. [...] 2010 can’t arrive soon enough / The Free Agent Starter Debate: Sheets vs Burnett [...]

  46. nyyankeechris says:

    Hello to all. Newbie to post on this site, but have been a Yankee fan all of my 32 years of life. Please dont throw me into the fire here, but I have a valid point to make. I am beginning to think that we are not going to sign most of the aformentioned SP’s. There is obvious reasons that we might not sign CCBurnett, Lowe, or Sheets. Lets face it, alot of injury concerns for Burnett and Sheets, age concerns for Lowe, and just the overall concern of CC going to play for either of the Los Angeles teams, etc. Not to mention the years that some of these pitchers are asking for. I am beginning to think that there is a distinct reality that the Yanees might have to make a huge trade or 2 to get a frontline, or even 2 SP this year. Anyone agree with me, and does anyone have any names that they have heard the Yankees interested in a trading fashion? Real rumors here, cause I really do think the Peavy trade is dead. But a trade is looking more like a distinct reality here.

  47. Being a huge Brewer fan I know exactly why Sheets isn’t getting any looks. First, many teams realize the Brewers have a very limited shot at Sabathia, especially with the Yankees offering such big numbers. This means although the Brewers are not looking at Sheets now, they will be when Sabathia makes his decision in the coming weeks. Sheets has only played for the Brewers and it is no surprise both him and the club want to continue it that way. Also, Sheets has been plagued with injuries since 2004, his last great season. Sheets has been a liability for years!

  48. Bill M. says:

    Sheets all the way. Burnett is too demanding. There both injury prone. So if ur gonna pick up an injury prone pitcher, go with Sheets.

  49. [...] from the cheaper and more reliable Burnett alternative, to a more expensive plan A.  Well, the guys at RAB made a great comparison yesterday of Ben Sheets and A.J. Burnett.  Sheets has perhaps a worse injury history than Burnett and wasn’t able to finish last [...]

  50. [...] would sign for fewer years and less money than any other big-name free agent, he would probably be the best fit of pitchers not named Carsten [...]

  51. Ross says:

    I would rather have Pavano back with an incentive laden deal than be stuck with five years of 15 to 22 starts from Burnett.
    The choice here is simple: Sheets (he requires less of a committment)

    ps – If CC really wanted to be a Yankee, he would have counter-offered by now. We are being used as leverage to get as much out of the Dodgers (or maybe Angels) as he can

  52. Tomas says:

    Mike, I disagree with you, here’s why.

    First off the right elbow soreness (Wikipedia says a piece of scar tissue from TJ broke loose) Aj suffered in 2006, was just an effect of reabilitation of TJ surgery, and Dr. Andrews said it was nothing to worry about, and he just pitched 35 games in 2008, with no problems what so ever. How many times has a pitcher gotten TJ surgery twice? non. Since he had it in 2004 he has pitched 133 games that is an average of 27 starts per season. In that same time Sheets has pitched 94 games that is an average of 16 starts per season, and he finishes the 2008 season with torn muscle near his throwing elbow. He hasn’t had TJ surgery, and for someone like injury-prone as him, he is bound to have it. The average of a normal SP is 30 starts, in the last 5 yrs Aj has averaged 27. I believe he has turned the corner, and until Sheets doesn’t get his elbow fix once and for all he is going to keep getting injured. That means who ever signs Sheets(even to 1yr deal) he could have to get TJ surgery and that means he loses a complete year if not two.

  53. Brandon says:

    Early in the year I criticized Cash for wanting Sheets in the near future but after thinking it over and reading this report if his MRIs are clean then you’d be a fool not to sign him.

  54. [...] tipsters have noted a similar vein of discussion on Michael Kay’s ESPN radio show as well. We like Sheets. Hopefully, the Yankees do [...]

  55. John says:

    I’m a brewer fan, and what yankee fans do not get about Sheets is that it does not matter if his MRIs are clean or anything like that. He WILL miss a significant amount of time when he’s not in a contract year. It’s not a question. He will always miss starts with some ridiculous injuries. He will miss over a month with “elbow tightness” or an ear infection. You cannot rely on him. So paying him that price for a few years would be ridiculous. Burnett is better.

  56. [...] start with the cons: 1.    Burnett is injury prone. He’s been on the DL 8 times since 2000. 2.    He has made only two 30+ starts in his career. 3.    He’s going to be 36 [...]

  57. Zack says:

    AJ’s injuries were all related: a strained elbow, tried to rehab, came back and needed TJ. He then came back after and had scar tissue issue, something everyone has after surgery. That’s 3 DLs stays right there. In 2007 he had a sore shoulder, Blue Jays rushed him back and that caused him to go back on the DL.

  58. [...] replace Carl Pavano on the DL. (Interesting comparison of Sheets vs AJ Burnett in terms of injuries here. Not much to choose between the two of them, it seems Sheets got injured at the worst possible time; [...]

  59. [...] the severity of his elbow injury, Sheets was considered an alternative to A.J. Burnett — and he might even have been the better choice. After surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, Sheets played the waiting game, [...]

  60. [...] nothing, but I think the Yanks should be looking closely at Sheets, if they aren’t already. The good guys at RAB are big on Sheets. Can’t disagree, except for the fact that Burnett’s proven himself in the AL East while [...]

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