The Wisdom of Sheets

This FanPost is a combination of two original FanPosts which went up within minutes of each other.  At vivaelpujols' suggestion, I have copied his (I think, his?) post and pasted it under mine.

Original post from IL and StL Fan:

Thinking about what the Cardinals might do the rest of the offseason (or into Spring Training), I wanted to see the difference in win-shares between two possible scenarios.

Scenario # 1: Sign Ben Sheets. And our off-season pitching acquisitions are done.

Scenario # 2: Sign Braden Looper and sign a top left-handed reliever.

I chose these two scenarios believing that we have to sign another starting pitcher. If we sign Sheets, the money says we are done. If we sign a lesser hurler, my choice would be Looper, and that should leave some money for something else. It seems to me that the left-handed side of our bullpen is still awfully thin. At least two premium lefties remain available (Ohman and Shouse), so I used the better of them.

The 2008 stats are from Baseball Reference, and the projections from FanGraphs.

What actually happened last season:

The Starters:

Sheets win-shares in 2008: 16

Looper win-shares in 2008: 11


The Lefties:

Shouse win-shares in 2008: 6

Ohman win-shares in 2008: 5

Miller win-shares in 2008: 4

Villone win-shares in 2008 (for reference): 2

Ring win-shares in 2008: -1


Combination Win Shares in 2008:

Ben Sheets + Trever Miller + Royce Ring = 19

Braden Looper + Brian Shouse + Trever Miller = 21

Difference = 2 win-shares (in favor of Looper/Shouse/Miller)


Projections for 2009:

I used Marcel, because I have access to it and its values were in the middle of CHONE and Bill James. I then plugged them into the win-shares above bench spreadsheet erik has been so kind as to point us to. If someone wants to redo this using PECOTA, I'd be interested to see it.

The Starters:

Looper win-shares above bench: 2.2

Sheets win-shares above bench: 4.1


The Lefties:

Shouse win-shares above bench: 0.5

Ohman win-shares above bench: 0.4

Miller win-shares above bench: 0.2

Ring win-shares above bench: 0.0


Combination Win-Shares Above Bench (Projected):

Ben Sheets + Trever Miller + Royce Ring = 4.3

Braden Looper + Brian Shouse + Trever Miller = 2.9

Difference: 1.4 win-shares (in favor of Sheets/Miller/Ring)


Some notes:

1) All in all, Marcel expects a difference of 3.4 win-shares in-between what actually happened last year and what is expected next year, regarding the two scenarios. That is a big swing.

2) To account for that swing, Marcel is counting on 7 more innings from Sheets than from Looper (173 vs. 166). I think the probabilities are actually better for a healthy season from Looper than from Sheets. If that is true, Looper would be undervalued in the projection. I would guess that they are still using his inning totals from his last year as a reliever to calculate probable inning totals.

3) Marcel also counts on a major resurrection from Ring, cutting his ERA in half. That is a lot of improvement. In 2008, he was 3 win-shares worse than Villone.

4) Calculating win-shares above bench for the Cardinals may be deceptive regarding left-handed relievers. We have no bench, unless Ring is for real or another of our value signings comes through. A quality left-hander adds real value to this team that I think is not completely reflected in the projections.

5) My sig is still on the Sign Ben Sheets! Petition, but I'm not sure, anymore, where the smart money lies. If the projections are accurate, and he pitches most of the year, Sheets is the one you want. But the difference is not as huge as I had expected, if Looper and a quality left-hander can be brought on-board for about the same cost. And I have to suspect that if there were not serious medical concerns about Sheets, he would already be signed.


What do you think?


Original Post from vivaelpujols (BEN SHEETS!!!!!!!!! and the best upgrades):

A lot our the recent discussions VEB have been about Ben Sheets.  Many of us have different reasons for wanting or not wanting him, but I'm gonna try to show just how much sense it makes to get Sheets.

Right now our worst everday player is Joel-.300 batting average against-Piniero.  Last year in 148 innings he had a 4.71 FIP and a 5.15 ERA.  He managed to be "worth" 0.9 wins.  Next year, Piniero looks to be getting 25 starts due to an anemic amount of depth.  CHONE projects him at 131 innings and a 4.67 FIP.  That would be good for another miserable 0.9 WAR season.  Now Piniero could be a solid swingman, but with those projections he certainly shouldn't pitch every 5 days. 

Ben Sheets last year was fantastic.  He pitched nearly 200 innings and had a 3.38 FIP and a 3.09 ERA.  He was worth 4.6 wins.  He is clearly the best pitcher avalaible, but a rather significant injury history has scared off most teams.  However, while Sheets has missed significant time in 3 of the last 4 years, he has never been worth less than 2.3 wins.  Even the most conservative projection CHONE has him at 148 innings and a 3.84 FIP and a 2.9 WAR.  A more optimistic projection Bill James has him at 186 innings and a 3.46 FIP and a 3.9 WAR.  So the odds are that even if Sheets does miss a significant amount of time AND pitches significantly worse than last year, he would be a full 2 wins better than Piniero.  Any luck with health and he would be a huge upgrade.  Incidentally, his current asking price is 2 years 18 million which is almost exactly how much we have left to spend. 

So then if Sheets represents a 2 win upgrade over Piniero, is there any other FA out there that could match that number over our incumbent?  Manny Ramirez immediately comes to mind as he would likely be close to a 3 win upgrade over Skip/Mather/Ankiel, however he is WAY out of our price range and it doesn't make sense to sign another OF when we are so stacked with talented, young outfielders. 

Ty Wiggington has been mentioned a lot here as a possible replacement to Glaus in the early going and then a guy who could replace Kennedy at second or become a DeRosa type utility guy.  Wiggington is coming off a career year in which he surpassed 1.5 WAR for the first time, he was worth 3 WAR.  However, most projection systems think he will regress back a league average player at around 2 WAR.  Considering the fact that Freese and Kennedy project to be nearly as good as that next year, signing Wiggington for a slight gain at best seems to be a very poor allocation of our few remaining resources. 

Other starters who are available are Braden Looper and Randly Wolf.  Neither of these players project to be much better than Pinata or Boggs/Todd and both are being somewhat heavily pursued by other teams.

In short, there is no other player available who would upgrade us as much as Sheets.  Even if he misses significant time to injury, he would still upgrade our team more than any other player out there.  The risk is minimal with Sheets, because he would likely be on a short term, incentives based deal.  This is one of the best pitchers in the game who is almost falling on to our lap, hopefully the front office will see that and take a risk.