Ben Sheets is still on the market and the longer this drags on his asking price could continue to come down. So far, it doesn’t appear that anyone is in a bidding war for the often-injured starting pitcher, so who knows – maybe he could find himself pitching on the North Side at Wrigley Field after spending most of his career pitching just north of the Illinois border in Milwaukee.
Sheets’ “handlers” have indicated that the pitcher is looking for a 2-year deal worth about $10-12 million per year. Given where the Cubs are right now payroll-wise, that seems like way too much money to take a flyer on an injury risk like Sheets. Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 because he ended up testing the free agency market after the 2008 MLB season and then discovered he needed surgery in January to repair torn flexor tendon in his right throwing elbow. Sheets could have come back for a contender at the end of the 2009 MLB season, but he decided to take a full year off to fully heal the injury. In 2008, Sheets pitched 198 1/3 innings in 31 starts, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA.
The Cubs expect their 2010 MLB payroll to hit $140 million. They have $125 currently committed and still have 8 arbitration-eligible players who will get raises in 2010. The Cubs have 3 starters inked in for the start of the 2010 MLB schedule – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells. Ted Lilly had surgery in early November to repair his left throwing shoulder and will be evaluated this weekend in Chicago to set a timetable for his 2010 start – hopefully by early-to-mid May. Four Cubs players will compete for the final 2 starting spots – Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall. As for the bullpen, the Cubs are set with closer Carlos Marmol and lefty-set-up man John Grabow. The Cubs still need a veteran right-handed set-up man to complement Grabow, as the rest of the bullpen is very young – Angel Guzman, David Patton, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new out of Cubs camp…