The libelous and conjecture-filled offseason is in full swing and the Dutch Ovens are steaming! From every good Hot Stove comes a delicious Hot Knife, guaranteed to make your thinking hazy and unclear. There is a chance that Hot Knives will mess you up like a bad accident.
We here at Walkoff Walk will pack the hole in our crystal ball with some gum and electrical tape and look beyond the Hot Stove. The Hot Knives Report will evaluate the on- and off-field impact of trades and signings (both real and conjured) to teams too busy with their new toys to worry about the cost.
Today, the top two right handed free agents on the market. Do you want your team to sign Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett?
That all depends, how is your heart? Can it take a good breakin'? Signing either of these two will ensure you're never bored. As far as pure stuff goes, you can't do much better. Both pitchers are throw as hard as anyone, with Burnett throwing the 5th fastest fastball, while Sheets ranks 22nd. A.J. Burnett is also lucky enough to one of the best curveballs in baseball. Basically, they are the same guy. Look at them, all side by side in the Pitching Runs Created column. They're so cute.
Just like an angered lobster baby, they are cute but deadly. Ben Sheets misses more starts than a NASCAR fan asleep on the infield. A.J. Burnett hates work also, but dont' forget his additional value: he's a total flake! Blue Jays fans have long learned to recognize the signs of Burnett's blow-ups a mile away. Hmmm, he's not getting calls and just gave up a long, loud double. Looks like its time to hatefuck a fastball right down the middle. And there it goes, and here comes the statline-distorting big inning/bad outing. Add his bizarre proclivity for mid-game dabbling and a wife with a thing for limo rides, and you've got yourself a handful! Not to mention you'll have yourself a 32 year old power pitcher with a history of arm troubles! All for the low, low price of $16 million a season. You might as well get two!
And two you could have, if the front office of your local baseball 9 decides to sign Ben Sheets too! Ben Sheets is younger than Burnett and though he's missed big stretches of time, most of his injuries have been to everything but his arm. Inner ear infections, hamstring strains, strained labia, back issues all sidelined him before a torn elbow muscle brought his 2008 season to a close.
If your team is really making a move for 2009, A.J. could be your man. Don't be thrown by the alarming uptick in his performance during contract years, that is merely a coincidence. Bill James figures he'll have a slightly worse than 2008 but still respectable season in 2009. Beyond 2009, what you'll get is anyone's guess. Potential suitors include the Yankees, Cardinals, Braves, Mets, or a hometown discount for the Blue Jays. The U.S.S Mariners suggest Seattle as a potential home for Sheets, thanks to his relationship with new GM Jack Zdruriencik and his great love of umbrellas. The Rangers have also expressed interest in Sheets, but will have to outbid everyone to entice a right handed pitcher into that graveyard.
While the money these players receive isn't yours, you don't want either of these two on your team moving forward. Pain, agony, shouldas and couldas are all you will experience. The flashes of brilliance mixed into the missed starts, the gross negligence and the weight of being an ace will only increase your dissatisfaction.