Watching Ben Sheets last night reminded me of the glory days of Glavine-Maddux-Smoltz-Avery. When a great pitcher is on his game, the opposition has virtually no chance.
Not to compare Sheets to the Big 3 of Bravos fame. He's not close to that category. But when he's healthy, he can be. Look at his 2008: 9-1, 2.59; 6 or more IP in 13 of 15 starts. His team is 11-4 in his starts. He's allowed 4 or more earned runs just twice. Throws gas on the corners with a bad mo fo of a bender.
And after this season, he'll be there for the taking. If I'm Frank Wren, I'm tempted, but I don't budge. If Sheets stays healthy this season, he'll probably win 20 games with a 3 or lower ERA and therefore fetch a multi-year contract worth, oh, maybe $17 or $18 million a year.
If Sheets then remains reasonably healthy for the next four or five seasons -- and maybe Francoeur turns into Tony Gwynn -- he just might be worth the contract, in today's baseball terms anyway. He'd look mighty good next to Huddy to lead a rotation with the talented young trio of JJ, Jo-Jo and maybe Charlie M. That could be a World Series caliber group.
Forget it. This guy is hurt as much as a certain former Atlanta right fielder. In the past three years, Sheets has averaged 135 IP. As good as Sheets can be -- like last night -- Mike Hampton could be damned good, too, a few years ago. Let's not do that again.