"It was like the lobby at the Winter Meetings."
That was the scene in Monroe, LA yesterday as described by someone who was there. Roughly 50-60 people (some clubs had as many as four people there), including big league scouts, trainers, pitching coaches, and minor league pitching coordinators, watched Ben Sheets throw three separate 20-pitch sessions on the mound, with five minute breaks in between.
He was "loose and fluid," with a 90-91 fastball and a 69-71 curveball. He threw from a no-windup delivery, and commanded both sides of the plate.
"He never looked like he was extending himself," I was told. "It was vintage Ben Sheets."
Given the impressive nature of his workout, I'm thinking that Sheets will get a fairly large guarantee for 2010 from someone. Maybe not $8 million, but certainly in excess of $5 million, plus incentives based on starts. He's been rumored to be leaning toward the Texas Rangers, who were represented by pitching coach Mike Maddux, who had been his coach in Milwaukee, but another school of thought says he prefers the National League.
The next week or so should bring an offer - or six - and it's safe to say the odds are against the Nationals making the cut.
One other thing: Sheets told several of the club reps present that during his final season in Milwaukee he was unable to do any throwing between starts due to elbow pain. That he put up the numbers he did - 198.1 innings of work, a 3.09 ERA - is all the more impressive.