After struggling mightily early in the season, it looks like Ben Sheets has found his mojo:
Sheets, who missed all of last season while recovering from flexor tendon surgery, is taking more steps toward looking like the guy who was a four-time All-Star. He pitched six scoreless innings in the A's 3-0 victory over the Giants on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 2.52 over his past four starts.
"He's showing everyone now he's got it back," catcher Kurt Suzuki said.
Sheets is making the A's $10 million investment in him look much better these days. Even if a resurgence by Sheets isn't going to keep the A's in contention all season, it could certainly be enough to generate significant trade interest in July. Sheets could join Roy Oswalt -- and possibly Cliff Lee -- in a unusually robust trade market for No. 1 starting pitchers.
Considering how badly Sheets struggled at the beginning of the season, it was pretty easy to question why GM Billy Beane committed such a large percentage of his payroll to a guy, who missed the entire 2009 season. But now that Sheets is throwing the ball well, the Athletics are actually in a position of strength moving forward. As the article states, Sheets could become very attractive trade bait come July if the Athletics fall out of contention. Teams looking to upgrade the top of their rotation could turn to Sheets because he will be a free agent after the season, he will not require the hefty price tag like Roy Oswalt, and the bounty probably will not be as large for Sheets as is will be for Cliff Lee.
Beane will have to continue to evaluate the A's chance this season in order to make the right move with Sheets. As MLBTR noted yesterday, Sheets is currently not going to net the Athletics any draft picks for next season, so if the A's want to get something in return, then the trade route would seem to be the best bet. The Elias rankings can change throughout the course of the season, but that's something for Beane to ponder.