Blog Entry

Get Juan Cruz and Ben Sheets Now!

Posted on: January 21, 2009 8:51 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2009 8:59 pm

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     I have been interested in writing about Juan Cruz and Ben Sheets for awhile now and Ken Rosenthal's article made for perfect timing. Some posters have already mentioned the Yankees need for Sheets, but Juan Cruz seems to get neglected on boards. I will explain why I(and hopefully Brian Cashman) believe that signing these two players is not only a must, but also a necessity. I would like to thank Ken Rosenthal and all other sources that I took stats from. Without future ado here are the reasons.

1.) Compensation :

      Since the Yankees have already signed three type A free agents (AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeria) and have not lost one (they declined to offer arbitration to any of their free agents) they would only be giving up a 4th and 5th round draft picks. To all the Yankee fans who believe these "vital" picks might develop into superstars, I present the list of the Yankees last ten fourth round draft picks. Corban Joseph, Bradley Suttle, Colin Curtis, Lance Pendleton, Jason Jones, Steven White, Alan Bomer, Aaron Rifkin, Matt Smith and Robert Corrado. Who? What? Somebody actually called their kid Corban?

     Lets play a game. Before reading those names, how many of those players names did you know and I knew the Yankees had some guy named Matt in their farm system doesn't count. If you scored a 0 you fit into the category of someone who has never watched a Yankees game to...well.... someone who watches all 162 games and bleeds pinstripes. 1-3. A huge Yankee fan who knows something about the minor leagues.  4-8. Would never bet against them when it comes to the Yankees. 9+ Get a life. Seriously, and this is coming from a baseball nerd. I assume most people did terribly, regardless the point is that the Yankees 4th round draft picks have amounted to nothing and I mean nothing. Fine, Steven White is considered a decent prospect, but none of these crappers have even made it to the major leagues. Before those who really know their stuff call me a liar, Jason Jones and Matt Smith did make it to the big leagues. In fact, Jason Jones had 107 at bats 3 home runs and a marvelous .215 in his potentially hall of fame career. Unfortunately, his career came to an abrupt and tragic ending in 2003 when the Rangers gave him a permanent demotion to the minor leagues for perennial sucking. Matt Smith fooled a lot of hitters until his 11.25 era in 2007 was even to much for the Philly’s to handle. What about the fifth round you say? While their big league success is equally terrible, the fifth round did draft the coolest name in Adam Olbrychowski. If that counts as success I guess the 5th round has historically been decent.

    Is it more beneficial to keep 4th and 5th round draft picks over successful major league players? I'll let you decide that one.


2.) bullpen depth:

     My favorite quote in baseball comes from the great Yogi Berra who once said "90% of the game is half mental." It is simple and true. After that, I love the phrase "You can never have to much pitching." Simple and true and really applicable to relief pitching. Generally, good hitters and starting pitchers will have good years and bad years while remaining relatively consistent over time. There are exceptions like Andrew Tubby Jones, whose voracious appetite is responsible for completely diminishing his baseball skills and leaving 1.3 million Africans starving a year, but I would be happy to bet with anyone that Jeter will hit at least .275, A-Rod will get 25 homeruns, CC will have 175k's etc assuming they are healthy.

     Relievers though have always been the most erratic. Excluding the elite closers, it is not completely uncommon for dominate relievers to become awful for no apparent reason. In a way this makes sense, because the middle guys are usually the ones who are not good enough to close or start. Relievers do not pitch that many innings a year so anyone can get hot and look good for a short period of time. I ask all Yankee fans this: Even though the Yankees had a very good bullpen last year, who do you really trust after Mariano Rivera? With the Yankees determined to keep Joba in the starting rotation (which i agree with, 200 innings of domination is better then 60) they have no definite 8th inning man.  Damaso Marte(4.02 era) Edwar Ramirez(3.90era) Jose Veras(3.59 era) and Brian Bruney(steller 1.93 era) are the most likely candidates. If Phil Coker continues to pitch the way he did last year he might get it; maybe Jonathan Albaladej or someone else. I'm not trying to suggest that the Yankees bullpen will collapse, but I do not think there is a candidate that really sticks out as a dominate 8th inning man. Juan Cruz had proved the last two years that he can help solidify the 8th inning. He dropped his era to an impressive 2.61 last year, but his ability to miss bats is what stands out. He had 71k's in 51.2 innings and missing bats is huge in the late innings when teams start to play small ball. Adding Cruz is a smart way to make one of the best bullpens better and provide insurance options in case one or more relievers get injured or regress.


3.) Rotation Depth:

Another "You can never have to much pitching."

 The Yankees need one more starting pitcher. The Yankees have locked in 4 starters (CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Chien Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlin) and need a 5th. Right now Andy "I'm a spoiled piece of ****" Petite or a minor leaguer are slotted. Signing Ben Sheets gives the back end of the rotation a #1 caliber pitcher. If he gets injured, fine, the Yankees will go to the farm system like planned or pick up a pitcher midseason from a team who is feeling the financial crisis and needs to cut payroll. If he remains healthy, the Yankees receive a steal. It is Win/neutral situation not a win/lose. Keep in mind that AJ Burnett has only pitched an entire year during contract years and Joba Chamberlin will be treated like a child and have his innings limited (I believe around 140 to 160 innings) so sheets and the kids/midseason pick up might both be needed.


4.) Price:

     The Yankees have received hatred and jealousy from other fans and teams, but despite the Brewers owner's (Mike or Mark or whatever it is) belief, the Yankees do have limits. These signings though won't exceed their limits. Sheets' injury history has put him in a tough situation. In this crisis teams are not willing to risk money on him when they can have cheaper, more reliable options. If Rosenthal's report that Sheets will command an 8 million base salary, 6 million in possible incentives and a club option for a second year are true, then I'm puzzled to why he is still a free agent. If he goes all Carl Pavano on the Yankees its 8 million down the drain, which the Yankees can afford. If he stays healthy, 14 million (the maximum he could receive) for his production is a great value. The option would allow the Yankees to bring a great pitcher on for another short (1 year) contract, which is the dream of every general manager.

    Just imagine Brain Cashman going to CC and saying "Look. I will give you a 2 years 46 million dollar contract with a 5 year option. If you pitch great we'll give you the rest of your 160 million dollar contract. If not, the Yankees will release you and I will laugh all the way to the bank from saving over 100 million dollars. Sound like a good deal CC?" This of course would never happen, but I believe the point is clear. Great pitchers on a short term contracts just doesn't exist. This is one of the few and the Yankees would be fools to miss out. 

     Juan Cruz story makes me drool. Arizona offered him arbitration, which he declined, and thanks to the wretched compensation system based on Elias Sports Bureau stats, Juan Cruz is a type A free agent. Arizona, the only team that would not be penalized for signing him, has publicly stated they are strapped for cash and won't resign him. So what are his options? His type A free agent status puts him in the same boat as Jason Varitek; no one wants to lose a first or second round pick for a set up man or ageing catcher. Even if Juan Cruz accepted a contract for 0 dollars he still would have limited suitors, but no team is willing to offer him Jeremy Alfeld type money (2 years 8 million) and lose a high draft pick. As mentioned earlier, the Yankees would only surrender a useless 4th round pick, so Cashman better quickly get on the phone and offer him a contract to bolster the bullpen.

5.) Age:

     Juan Cruz's Birthday is in October and will be 30 for the entire regular season and Ben Sheets is also 30 and will turn 31 in July. While they are not exactly spring chickens, they won't require prostate exams or be examining real-estate in retirement houses soon. (hmmm. [cough] Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and all other washed up former Yankees.) Pitchers seem to deteriorate around the age 33 or 34, so both should be unaffected.

6.) I can do anything better than you can[aka the most important factor]:

     As a Yankee fan, it pains me to admit it, but the Red Sox have completely dominated the Yankees on the field this decade. They have won two more World Series and were playing baseball in October last year while Yankee fans were crying at home. Losing to the Red Sox breaks Yankee Rule #2. For those uninformed individuals, #1 is: win The World Series and #2 is: If the Yankees sadly fail to make The World Series, make sure the Red Sox fail as well. Obviously that has not been working to well and the Yankees have been forced to beat the Red Sox in a lesser matter; the off season. The Yankees have spent the most money on the best players, they stole Teixeria right out of John Henry's hand and signed former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash to a minor league deal as a **** you and a reminder that the Yankees have the cash and the Red Sox do not. The Red Sox have beaten the Yankees in one area; former stars recovering from injury. The Yankees have no answer for John Smoltz or Brad Penny. Why win 3-1 when you can win 4-0? Signing Ben Sheets would secure a winter sweep. Hopefully the Yankees will start winning is the fall as well :)

Sign Cruz! Sign Sheets! It is that simple.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or