For weeks I’ve contended that the Chicago Cubs, rather than focusing on the bullpen, should be looking to pick up another starting pitcher. With Ted Lilly laid up following shoulder surgery (notice how his return ETA keeps getting pushed back? It’s now been reported that early May is “optimistic”), and Rich Harden off to Texas, the Cubs rotation to start the year is Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, and then two question marks.

That said, the kind of pitcher I had in mind was a Jon Garland type – consistently good, if not great, but reliable, veteran, and somewhat inexpensive.

But if the Cubs instead are wanting to take a run at a guy who offers incredibly high upside together with the risk of injury… ah, what the hell. Go for it: the Cubs are actively pursuing pitcher Ben Sheets.

General manager Jim Hendry declined to comment, but he spoke to Sheets’ agent at the winter meetings in Indianapolis and major-league sources say the Cubs are one of Sheet’s preferred destinations.

Sheets reportedly has been asking for a two-year deal averaging around $10 million to $12 million per year, but the Cubs believe they have a good shot at landing him with an incentive-laden deal.

The 31-year-old right-hander, who spent his entire career with the Brewers, has a history of injuries, including arm and back problems, an inner-ear infection and blisters. He missed the 2009 season following elbow surgery.

As the offseason drags on without serious rumors attached to Sheets’ name, things only look better for the Cubs. It is possible that no team is willing to offer a good deal of guaranteed money. If that’s the case, the Cubs have as good a shot as any team at landing Sheets.

Let’s just hope that Sheets agrees to provide his medical records to the Cubs before they make any kind of serious commitment.

  • Hawkboy64

    Why would we sign sheets whenwe had an houseoptionin harden. And what’s happened with kiko calero since hendrys determined to get a reliever

    • Ace

      Rich Harden left via free agency – he’s a Ranger. Thus, he is not in-house. He’s… well… out-house.

  • KevinG

    They have alot of option for starters in house, as much as I think Sheets is a great pitcher when health. But why spend the money and even though Marmols scares me the only addition to the bullpen is a Closer.

    • TBDS

      “They have alot of option for starters in house”

      Yeah, but none of them are good.

    • Ace

      Sheets wouldn’t just be depth, though. If he were added, it would be about his upside as a front of the rotation starter.

  • Hawkboy64

    yeah but harden was an in- house option at one time what’s wrong with j. Garland instead of sheets

  • true Cub

    I think they need to see what they have, in their young talent. You never know who a diamond in the rough is. Save the money they may need it later.

    • Ace

      In the bullpen, I could not possibly agree more. But on a low money, incentive type deal, you’d still want Sheets, no?

  • steven j

    Well we could definatly use a starter with lily out till who knows when(april, may or whenever). Sheets does have enough of an upside that it could be worth wild, if he comes back from reality and understands no one in their right mind will give him 10 million dollars this year. If he is willing to accept a one year insentive laden deal why not sign him. And assuming he coughs up the medical records as well. After all we only have basicly a 3 man rotation right now in Zambrano, dempster, and wells. If we really had to we got marshall and gorzalaney that can fill in, or heaven help us shark and silva, but neither option really looks all that great..

    Ultimatly still comes down to money though, cubs seem to have roughly 5-6 million dollars to spend, and are still actively looking for a veteran reliever(have no clue why we need yet another reliever), and possibly a 4th outfielder. Fuld would seem to be a fairly good in-house option in the outfield, but i would be all for offering reed johnson a contract as well.

    • Ace

      Unfortunately Reed is being courted by the Yankees, who will likely be able to offer a great deal more money than the Cubs (rumor is upwards of $3 million).

  • Jacob

    Why don’t we just go after Peniro? This guy has been on the disabled list too much for my liking. If we can get him for about $2Mill, then sure. But no more. I’d rather go after Peniro. Thats just me though.

  • steven j

    Well the problem with signing or going after pineiro is the same as sheets, its the money. I’ve read on espn that pineiro is repotedly talking to the mets, somewhere in the area of a two year 15 million dollar contract, money the cubs just don’t have unless we backload yet another contract..

    Sheets may come cheaper due to his injury and the fact that he didn’t play in 09′ and would definatly have a big upside if he is healthy.

    Above mentioned was Jon Garland. I really haven’t heard anything about him this offseason. What kind of contract is he seeking? Talent wise he definatly would be of intrest, of course for the right price. I would assume with the numbers he put up last season with the dodgers, he will probably want something close to what pineiro will most likely receive and marquis already got.

    • Ace

      I don’t see why Garland wouldn’t expect to get as much as Pineiro, but based on rumor volume, it looks like he’ll get less. He’s the guy, other than a cheapo deal on Sheets, that I’d like to see the Cubs pursue (realistically).