At the end of a 2008 season which saw Brewers' right-hander Ben Sheets post a (13-9) record with a 3.09 ERA, (136 ERA+), and a 1.15 WHIP in 31 starts and 198.1 IP over which he walked 47 (2.1 BB/9) and struck out 158 (7.2 K/9), the former 1999 1st Round pick found himself unable to pitch as Milwaukee made their first playoff appearance in 25 seasons, losing to the eventual World Champion Phillies in the NLDS.
After the '08 campaign, the then-29-year-old right-hander agreed in principle to a two-year deal with the Texas Rangers (for an undisclosed amount of money) which was voided when an MRI revealed a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow which would require surgery. According to ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian's article on Sheets' attempt to return from the injury entitled, "Sheets healthy, ready to prove it", the free agent pitcher, "...told the Rangers that he wouldn't take their money if he couldn't pitch, and had the surgery on his own."
Now 31, Sheets will hold a throwing session today in front of representatives of at least 15 MLB teams including, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Washington Nationals...
Mr. Ladson sent a message out on his Twitter account Monday afternoon, announcing that the Nationals would be, "...sending scouts to Monroe, La to watch RHP Ben Sheets throw." In an article following up on the tweeted report entitled, "Nats potential suitors for Sheets", Mr. Ladson cites "published reports" which have the righty, "...looking for an $8 million contract for 2010," but according to Mr. Ladson, "...it's doubtful the Nationals," who are looking to add a second starting pitcher to their rotation after having signed Jason Marquis earlier this winter, "...will give (Sheets) that kind of money, because he's had problems staying healthy during his career."
Can the Washington Nationals sign Sheets to an incentive-laden deal? Should DC spend money on a pitcher who's an obvious injury risk? Can Washington afford to invest whatever money they have left this winter in a pitcher who is, in spite of his own confidence in his ability to return, a question mark heading into to today's throwing session? ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian points to the Cubs and Mariners as two likely suitors for Sheets, should the Nationals take a chance?