Two players who saw little or no action in 2009 signed today for a combined $13.3 million. That's a lot of scratch for two players with a history of health problems and a couple of elbow surgeries between them. The Oakland A's, no strangers to the risk/reward signings (Holliday, Giambi, et al), signed Sheets for $10 million for a one year deal. The Cubs were looking for a fourth outfielder and signed Xavier Nady for $3.3 million plus incentives.
Let's start with Nady. A couple of years ago, he had a big year for the Pirates and the Yankees. It was really his only full and big season in the majors. He was pegged to be the Yankees' starting right fielder in 2009 but blew out his elbow for the second time. He proceeded to have his second Tommy John procedure.
If Nady can play, he's a decent big league hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. But he's limited on defense (to be kind) and after two elbow blowouts, seems to be a time bomb waiting to happen. All in all, $3.3 million is not that big a risk, but it's still real money that they will probably not be able to insure. Working it through, the Fan's not real big on this signing. It's a bit expensive for a fourth outfielder, especially one who is coming back from major surgery. And if he takes at bats away from Sam Fuld, this Fan won't be happy.
Sheets is a whole other story. He brings a measure of dread and hope at the same time. He could blow out again or he could win 18 games. The hope is worth $10 million, but the dread is not. When Sheets can pitch, he's outstanding. But his career has been a series of times when he wasn't able to pitch mixed in with some breathtaking pitching. Nady at his best is marginally worth what the Cubs will pay him. But if Sheets is healthy and has his best, he's worth much more than $10 million.
Say that he is healthy. Say that Justin Duchscherer is healthy too--and granted, that's two gigantic if statements. Add in Brian Anderson, who could have and should have won the Rookie of the Year award last year and the A's rotation could be scary good. Tack on the best new closer to come along in a while, and things could be fun in Oakland this year. If all those stars align, you could be looking at 88 to 90 wins, which could be close enough to win the A.L. West.
But again, that's a lot that has to go right. And it's a lot that has to go right for $10 million dollars. That's about as risk/reward as there is. The Fan hopes that Sheets is healthy. It's tough to see that kind of talent not able to use it. The Fan is all about fulfilling one's purpose on earth and Sheets was born to throw a baseball.