From Robin To Rickie

March 10, 2006

A Setback For Ben

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jamie Herbst @ 2:02 pm

As I’m sure all readers of this blog already know, Ben Sheets came out of yesterday’s Cactus League game against the A’s because of “discomfort” in the muscle that ended his season last August.

As I talked about a couple of weeks ago, there is absolutely no reason for the Brewers to rush things with Sheets, now especially after yesterday’s incident. The Brewers medical team is known around baseball as one of the best, so I’ll trust their judgment on this, but it would be extremely disappointing if Sheets missed significant time this season, even moreso if it’s because the Brewers rushed him.

As I stated in that previous post, the Brewers finally have enough pitching depth to be able to overcome a loss like this, provided it’s not a season-long issue. That’s actually amazing to think about. When I saw this morning that right-hander Luke Hudson had been released by the Reds, I immediately considered whether a guy like that, who still has potential, would interest the Brewers. I remember the days when Hudson would’ve been looked at, very likely snatched up, and possibly thrown into the back of Milwaukee’s rotation. Gone are the days of us depending on veteran retreads whose arms haven’t quite fallen off yet (Mac Suzuki, Nelson Figueroa). The Brewers’ pitching depth, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, is pretty impressive going into 2006.

Consider how much the Brewers would feel the loss of Sheets in the month of April. If he started the year on the DL, our rotation would hypothetically shape up as Doug Davis, Chris Capuano, Tomo Ohka, David Bush and either Dana Eveland or Rick Helling. Don’t forget that those are not our only options. Zach Jackson’s having a strong spring and is looking more and more like a part of AAA Nashville’s starting rotation, Ben Hendrickson is still down there looking for another chance, and I suppose the Brewers could once again explore the possibility of starting Jose Capellan, at least in a spot-start here and there.

The Brewers have four off days in April, and they’re spread apart enough that there may only be the need for a couple of starts for the 5th guy in the rotation. If they play it especially conservative, there could be 3 starts for the 5th man- the 16th, the 21st and the 26th. Would anyone be uncomfortable with Eveland or Helling getting those starts?

I’m not trying to make light of Sheets being hurt. I’m merely trying to point out that Sheets is much more important to the Brewers in August than in April. It doesn’t make much sense to get him out there as soon as possible, only to have him struggle with this all year or break down completely. Right now Ben is the franchise guy, and we need to protect him as such.

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