Braves sign former Brewers pitcher Sheets

Former All-Star pitcher Ben Sheets, trying to make it back to the majors after two elbow surgeries, signed a minor league contract with the Braves and will make his first start Wednesday for Double-A Mississippi.

The former Milwaukee Brewers standout, who’ll be 34 on July 18, missed the 2011 season recovering from “Tommy John” elbow surgery and last pitched with Oakland in 2010. The Braves have been turning over every rock looking for pitching help.

“You look at him being a guy who, if the progression goes as we hope, that he could join our rotation in the next few weeks,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said after watching Sheets throw a bullpen session Sunday morning at Turner Field. “No definitive time, just the next few weeks. What we just saw in the bullpen was very impressive.”

Sheets’ agent let the Braves know he was interested a few weeks ago, and Sheets threw  Thursday at Georgia Tech in front of officials from the Braves and several other teams.

“He threw a five-inning simulated game at Georgia Tech,” said Wren, noting that Sheets’ fastball velocity was 91-92 during the session. “We saw enough that we were very impressed. The velocity was pretty close to what we’ve come to know in the past as Ben Sheets and the quality of breaking stuff – he’s always had a very good curveball and change-up – it was all the more impressive.”

The Braves have been looking far and wide for pitching help due to Brandon Beachy’s season-ending elbow surgery and the struggles of young starters Randall Delgado and Mike Minor. They are also exploring a trade for a proven starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, with the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza and Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke among those they’ve discussed.

Wren said Sheets would make a couple of Double-A starts, “and then we’ll re-evaluate where he is.We don’t think he’s too far off from being able to help us.”

Sheets last pitched in the majors with Oakland in 2010, when he made 20 starts and 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA before going on the disabled with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He missed the 2009 season while recovering from surgery for a torn flexor tendon in the elbow.

The four-time All-Star has a 90-92 career record and 3.79 ERA in 241 career starts over nine seasons, with 1290 strikeouts in 1547-1/3 innings.

Sheets spent his first eight seasons with the Brewers through 2008, collecting seven double-digit win seasons despite a string of injuries in the latter half of that period. He had a career-best 13-9 record with a 3.09 ERA in 2008, but his best season was 2004, when he was12-14 with a 2.70 ERA, piled up a career-high 264 strikeouts with only 32 walks in 237 innings, and finished eighth in the National League Cy Young balloting.

A native of Baton Rouge, La., Sheets was a first-round draft selection (10th overall pick) by the Brewers in 1999.

100 comments Add your comment

SFBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

Yes, like this Deal

Joe for 3

July 1st, 2012
1:09 pm

Might as well try it.

Brandon

July 1st, 2012
1:10 pm

good deal. I was actually hoping they would. Nothing to lose

beachcomber

July 1st, 2012
1:13 pm

No downside to this move as long as we continue to pursue a guy who fits into the rotation right away like Garza, Dempster or Rodriguez.

reality

July 1st, 2012
1:16 pm

The Braves are great at garage sales… one mans junk is another mans treasure!

Farnsworthy

July 1st, 2012
1:17 pm

Huh? Sheets is over the hill. You just have to shake your head at some of these moves the Braves make. Why not get Julio Franco back too. And Niekro while you are at it.

onelodbrave

July 1st, 2012
1:17 pm

Good pick-up can use Bobbys walker to get back and forth from the mound

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
1:19 pm

Sweet hopefully he can still pitch,

Jeffrey

July 1st, 2012
1:19 pm

Ummmmm righty or lefty? I can’t remember and didn’t see it above.

lanier

July 1st, 2012
1:19 pm

he is a AA player now. this is a waste of time

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
1:21 pm

He’s a low risk high reward pick up. If the guy does nothing its not like we overpaid for him. While the Braves dig up arms whatever happened to Brandon Webb?

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
1:22 pm

i think he’s a righty

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
1:24 pm

I’d still like them to trade Minor while they can still get something in return. Minor blows!

bp

July 1st, 2012
1:25 pm

Harry

July 1st, 2012
1:25 pm

Not a waste of time if he gets hot. Hasn’t pitched in the MLB since 2010? Could be like bringing up someone the league is now unfamiliar with, get some cheap early success. Low risk, low cost for Braves.

Farnsworthy

July 1st, 2012
1:27 pm

If Bobby’s walker isn’t available, I got some old crutches I could donate to the cause.

The Truth

July 1st, 2012
1:32 pm

This is a can’t lose move. We signed him to a minor league contract, which means it’s small taters. Best case, he’s back to All-Star form after a few years off and surgery…. worst case, he draws some extra eyes to Mississippi to increase attendance and hot dog sales.

Monster Mash

July 1st, 2012
1:32 pm

whiners! How could this move possibly hurt anything? They did not even travel to scout him…meanwhile Delgado and Minor are absolutely not gonna get us through…we need two arms. Bring in 3-4 to find two.

OBAMA

July 1st, 2012
1:45 pm

I am everywhere

Sam

July 1st, 2012
1:49 pm

Worth a shot…

Frank Wren

July 1st, 2012
1:49 pm

I signed Ben Sheets because, um, duh, uh, well…. frankly I have no idea why I signed him.

ugafan13

July 1st, 2012
1:49 pm

He couldn’t do any worse than the Braves starters are doing now. They all have 1st inning issues for some reason this year. Huddy just threw 24 pitches and gave up 4-runs…pitiful, just pitiful!

ugafan13

July 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

And here I sit wating for the bottom of the first and the 3 up and 3 down that is sure to come!

Sons of Rick Matula

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Three words – Des Per Ation

NORRIS CHUCK

July 1st, 2012
1:52 pm

Ugafan,

You got that right! And those two runs wouldnt have scored if Bourn wasnt playing second base. Back up and maybe you catch a ball or two! Bourn is definitely thinkin about last night at the club.

ugafan13

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

And then some!

Mark

July 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

Worth a try I guess!

ugafan13

July 1st, 2012
1:56 pm

Well at least we have one hit in the 1st!

Disgusted

July 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

A long shot. Real long shot but like the name. Would have been a great sign 4 or 5 yrs ago.

If he does not work, so be it.

NORRIS CHUCK

July 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

With this current pitching staff you just dont know what you are going to get. And the same with the batters. Look at the NATS, they have a plan and they stick to it, step up to the plate and battle NOT like the Braves who keep trying to pull for the fences!

ugafan13

July 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

A different Huddy better come out for the second inning or we are doomed to loset this game!

TBbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
1:58 pm

Wow went out to feed the dog came back in and just like that behind by 4 wow no momentum after a win for this predictable team.

Jaded Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

This is exactly the kind of player the Braves need to go after – a proven major-league talent who can be had at a low cost. It sort of reminds me of the Pirates taking flyers on Bedard and Burnett. Both those moves have paid off big time for them.

I say we give Sheets a few starts in Atlanta and see what we have. This team is going nowhere fast, and maybe he can be a shot in the arm.

G

July 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

Not the answer

TBbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

NORRIS CHUCK–

You are so right seems the braves get home runs or they don’t want nothing.

TBbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

don’t you think for a minute that the nats are going to loose two straight to these braves.

P Rose

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

Ho hum. An average pitcher (90-92, 3.79 era) for the Braves, an average team.

FSUBrave

July 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

reclamation project..LOL…shows we don’t have any money to spend…

Ryan

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Looks like we’ve got our Greinke now.

Ken Stallings

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

It is one of those can’t lose situations. If it doesn’t work out, the Braves have lost nothing for their future. But, it has the chance to work out to getting a number two starter for a bag of peanuts! Good move!

Ryan

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Enter your comments here

DaveinNEPA

July 1st, 2012
2:16 pm

Talk about dumpster diving!!! The guy always was much more hype than substance and now he hasnt pitched in 2 years. Meh, I don’t see much if any upside to this at all.

Ralph

July 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

Hope they didn’t spend too much money on an ageing injury plagued pitcher with a lifetime losing record. Wren is really working those dumpsters this year, maybe this one will be a lucky find.

Ralph

July 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

Hope they didn’t spend too much money on an ageing injury plagued pitcher with a lifetime losing record. Wren is really working those dumpsters this year, maybe this one will be a lucky find.

coo coo bird fan

July 1st, 2012
2:19 pm

Its a start of many more moves to come for the Braves. Say goodbye to Delgado, Salcedo, and Vizcaino or Teheran for Greinke and a OF’r. I would prefer a crafty veteran starter but there is nothing out there. Please If there is a god get rid of Matt Diaz he’s taking the position of a real ball player in Costanza or anybody with a pulse.

1991 braves

July 1st, 2012
2:21 pm

Another wonderful acquisition by the worst G.M. in baseball. This guy might be worse than Livan. At least Livan had pitched since 2010. But hey the braves always have the stopper Tim Hudson to pitch every 5th day if this guy doesn’t do anything. Send Hudson, Chipper, McCant, Ugly, Diaz, Hinske, Wilson packing, and start over. This team is going nowhere with these over the hill has beens. Play for the future with Freeman, Prado,Simmons,Heyward, and hope to God one of these losers you trade away can get you some quality young arms. But we are talking about the mastermind Wren. So none of this will happen, this idiot thinks the braves are gonna make the playoffs. LOL!!!!!

K-man

July 1st, 2012
2:26 pm

Outstanding job, Frank Wren! Ben Sheets is an extremely low risk, nice upside possibility. Beats the heck out of paying a king’s ransom for a pitcher like Garza.

DHD

July 1st, 2012
2:26 pm

Why not? Only a moron (^^) would think this is a bad deal. It is a no-lose situation.

Yogi Berra

July 1st, 2012
2:30 pm

Another re-cap tire..start calling Wren..Re-run Wren!

Yogi Berra

July 1st, 2012
2:31 pm

no-lose ?…lol
But I done hope u right.

Yogi Berra

July 1st, 2012
2:33 pm

Moron? what kind of person are you to call someone a moron for giving their opinion..what would that make u for giving your opinion?

Kevin

July 1st, 2012
2:40 pm

Not a bad move, better for bullpen. Teheran good for rotation as well as Gilmartin.

NickB

July 1st, 2012
2:42 pm

lovely to see the idiots showing their ignorance about this deal.

It’s a minor league deal, meaning it cost next to nothing

the worst that happens is he never pitches his way out of AA

the best that happens he pitches like the old Ben Sheets and makes his way to the show again

regardless of which happens it’s a low risk/high reward deal

being mad at this is like being mad at your soup……

Buster brave

July 1st, 2012
2:43 pm

Good move,obviously a lot of ignorance on this blog,Sheets if anywhere close to his history will make a great 4 or 5 starter. For the one’s who see this as a good move, I agree,you know your stuff,the others are truly ignorant and morons……….

NickB

July 1st, 2012
2:43 pm

Yogi Berra

not all opinions are created equal, some have education behind them and some don’t

Homer the Brave

July 1st, 2012
2:43 pm

Surprised Wren didn’t take a chance on Moyer and Dontrelle Willis. Mothing to lose there either.

Alaska Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

Gosh! I guess I can go buy that new Bentley Mulsanne I’ve been coveting. If I hadn’t been reading this blog, I wouldn’t have known that a person, or a baseball team, can spend any amount they want to spend to purchase anything or anyone they want, whether they have the money or not. Shucks, I’ve been bargain hunting and trying to stay within my budget, but now I’ve seen the light.

Oh, and this takes Frank Wren off the hook, I guess. No longer will he have to employ skill and creativity to find talent that is both affordable and helpful; instead, he can just go buy any pitcher he likes, or even several of them!

Wow, what an epiphany!

ABF

Le Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:46 pm

I just hope this isnt a desperation move because they cant trade for a respectable pitcher like grienke, dempster, gaRZA, et al

The Real Brave

July 1st, 2012
2:51 pm

This is a joke. AS bad as starting the season depending on a 40 year old third baseman.

NickB

July 1st, 2012
2:53 pm

This was discussed weeks ago as a low risk/ high reward possibility , not as part of any major moves by the team. Even IF he is going to work his way back to the big club, it’s gonna take a month or two, if they can make a deal for a starter they will. Sheets is just an insurance policy

Yogi Berra

July 1st, 2012
3:03 pm

agree. NickB..I hope it works out..we need it.

Darryl Blackberry

July 1st, 2012
3:28 pm

Doesn’t sound very promising, but one never knows. I can recall a certain Dennis Martinez/John Burkett/Jamey Wright resurrecting his career with the Braves as a fifth starter once upon a time…

Ryan

July 1st, 2012
3:52 pm

Probably not going to make top story news on Sportscenter but I’ll take him over Delgado and Minor.

kevkat

July 1st, 2012
3:53 pm

Never thought I’d see the day where 90-92 mph would be considered impressive.

GRAPHITE

July 1st, 2012
3:53 pm

Does he know how to BUNT?

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
3:55 pm

Jared Wright?

hmmmm.........

July 1st, 2012
3:58 pm

Im not a Wren fan, but Sheets is worth a shot. Its like he’s overpaid or got a major league contract. The Braves still need another starter and righthanded bat tho. Trade Minor!

jt

July 1st, 2012
4:21 pm

We know why we got Sheets, CHEAP !!!!!
Wonder where Diaz and Hinske will play next year, wait a minute, who gives a Sheet!

timS

July 1st, 2012
4:22 pm

not a bad idea just the principal that Liberty is so freakin cheap the Braves are always having to pull people off the scrap heap.

jt

July 1st, 2012
4:22 pm

Go Johnny Go, Same ole Sheet!

jt

July 1st, 2012
4:25 pm

This guy has lost it. WTF Johnny??????????????????

wallypip

July 1st, 2012
4:31 pm

Signing Ben Sheets is Ok. Not much ventured, so if it doesn’t work out, no big deal. But the Braves need a new starting pitcher who’s guaranteed competent, if not excellent. Without another competent starter, the Braves will finish third in this division, and they might finish there anyway, with the inconsistent play of McCann and Uggla.

It’s also clear that scouting has finally caught up with Venters. Hitters now know that the sinker he used to dominate with is seldom a strike, and they’re laying off it, getting ahead in the count and requiring him to get the ball up, where it’s getting hit hard.

Bottom line, this series show the Nats are a better team, and much better managed. Alas.

BIll Smith

July 1st, 2012
4:47 pm

Pitching is no about how fast you throw it. It is how you control it.

Did Maddox throw it 100 mph–I didn’t think so

If the Braves signed Jesus Christ–Some of you would have a problem with that!!!

Let the people that get paid the big bucks, make the decisions

Give people a Chance!!! ya’ll are so negative about every thing!

Hubert

July 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

Hey, Brandon Webb is out there too. And so are Raul Mondesi and Bob Wickmann.

DaveinNEPA

July 1st, 2012
5:20 pm

Somebody mentioned others the Braves pulled out of the crapper and got some usage out of………..Martinez/Burkett/Jaret Wright……….Back then we had Leo to work with them and “fix” them. We don’t have that luxury these days, we have McDowell who appears to be incapable of “fixing” anybody.

FSURob

July 1st, 2012
5:26 pm

Bill – From what I’ve heard, Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball. Neither could Buddha or Jobu.

This is low-risk/high-reward. When healthy, Sheets was one of the best in the majors. If he is healthy and can still pitch anywhere near that level, he’s way better than several of our other options. If it doesn’t work out, then the minor league contract doesn’t cost anything.

Someone mentioned Brandon Webb. I think I’d go hunt him down too and hire Leo to work with both of them – after all, he turned Jaret Wright into a 15-game winner.

Finkerstein

July 1st, 2012
5:32 pm

Ben Sheets. Wow! That’ll really turn this season around!! The wife and I are so excited about this news!!! Thanks Wren for saving the season for us Braves fans. It’s bold moves like this that make the difference.

Dan

July 1st, 2012
5:36 pm

He can do no worse than some of the clowns Braves are running out there now

Grandpa gave away his Season Tickets

July 1st, 2012
5:42 pm

better bring some duck tape and bailing wire to hold him together……

Zane Smith's Teeth

July 1st, 2012
5:47 pm

What, would Jamie Moyer’s agent not return Frank’s calls?

howard the season ticket holder.

July 1st, 2012
5:49 pm

Another loser long shot deal for a freebie castoff loser pitcher (umm. remember Livan?) for a mediocre ballclub that even if it could make the playoffs is not a championship calibre team. Our 14 million dollar has been (sorry) 3b man has played in 40 some odd games and has hit 6 home runs, double andrelton simmons (who actually is impressive). Chipper can no longer field or run, and can only hit a little, having been on dl this year 2x (once injuring himself running in the outfield, and the other time because he couldnt get his glove in front of a ground ball (at least we didnt hear the pathetic excuse he lost the ball in the lights, like last year) !!!! Hahahahahaha. Is anyone else tired of his “goodbye tour” when he only plays every other game??………Frank Wren or Freddie cant do anything, because Liberty Media wont support trying to make this a chanpionship club. Not only that, Time Warner/Turner crushed this club for the rest of many of our lifetimes by cutting a 25 year terrible deal with Turner property Peachtree TV and local TV revenue. Braves have no where to go but down, and its no ones fault but ownership. I have owned season tix for the past 21 years, but this is it for me. If ownership will not attempt to field a competitive club for a championship run, why should I pay money into Liberty Media’s pocket? I enjpy watching major league baseball, but it is becoming apparent that if you want to see major league baseball, better watch the visiting clubs, or take a drive up the coastline…….and, again, its going to get much, much worse, fellow braves fans…….and, oh, by the way, what is wrong with Venters?

Ebenezer Snerdberg

July 1st, 2012
5:50 pm

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Theron Sapp

July 1st, 2012
5:53 pm

The Braves are turning over every rock because they’ll only sign players dirt cheap.

Screwball

July 1st, 2012
6:08 pm

I know it was hot and I would have stayed home myself but a crowd of 18,000 is a statement from the fans. This team isn’t worth the effort.

blazerdawg

July 1st, 2012
6:15 pm

Sheets is worth the look. He knows how to pitch and if he really can hit 91 mph on the gun he has the tools to be a better mid-reliever than big #61. Looking forward to seeing him at CoolRay and hopefully at the Ted.

Paul D

July 1st, 2012
6:17 pm

Why do people here think this is the “impact pitcher” that multiple sources talk about the Braves acquiring? This is a cheap signing for depth, low risk high reward signing. This has nothing to do with the Braves trading for an impact pitcher at the deadline. Half of the people here have no clue what they are talking about.

RoyU

July 1st, 2012
6:31 pm

They’re turning over every rock except the big one in front of the bank door. God forbid they spend any money!!! Instead, they will trade away talent that could be useful in the future! This team needs more than just a pitcher and should not waste more young talent to support a manager that cannot manage. Certainly, Sheets is worth a look but to indicate that going after him and others out of the leftovers is doing everthing the Braves can, is BULL and misleading to the fans.

Jason's Sweet Cheeks

July 1st, 2012
6:42 pm

Sheets is woth the try. Not enough. Vargas and League and Seager for Minor and prospects. Hanson, Sheets, JJ, Hudson Vargas. Go Braves!!

JimBob

July 1st, 2012
6:48 pm

This is a fantastic signing. Wren may be replacing 4 pitchers. Beachy, Minor, Delgado and Minor

Some of you, it sounds like you are way too young to remember Sheets and some sound way too old to remember Sheets.

Great savvy move. Now let’s see what trades Wren makes to shore up the rotation.

Jason's Sweet Cheeks

July 1st, 2012
6:59 pm

I wish the people would be more patient with the Braves. It is quite obvious that they are not going to win this year,but are building for next year. With sheets(who I do not know.) you will have plenty of pitching and get Viscaino and Beachy back. Moylan is back. You still have Prado,Freeman,Simmons and my Jayson. Get you 2 outfielders. A good catcher. Prado to 3rd. Let’s win this in 2013. Go Braves!!

alanfalcon

July 1st, 2012
7:09 pm

When the bank is closed and your management has no idea as to what to do you get this result !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

64 year Braves fan

July 1st, 2012
7:17 pm

I agree with 1991 Brave

Atlrf44

July 1st, 2012
7:27 pm

Hey Bill Smith- Is JC a lefty..if he is I’m all for it!!!

Slammin' HELMETS, and breakin' BATS!

July 1st, 2012
7:50 pm

@Jason’s Sweet Cheeks: Vargas? Why in the world would we want Vargas, the dude is complete garbage.

And concerning Sheets… whatever, he’s a nice little pickup, I suppose; but we still need to make a hard push for Greinke. If we could sign him to a long-term contract, he would not only be a huge boost for our rotation this year, but he would also be a great asset in the years to come. I just don’t think Garza or Dempster are worth the prospects, nor do I believe they would make much a difference (neither are really all that great). Again, Greinke should be our man, he would be well worth the prospects and money.

Slammin' HELMETS, and breakin' BATS!

July 1st, 2012
8:00 pm

@Paul D: It’s hard to tell with Wren, Paul. Remember, we have been searching for an outfielder/RH bat for years now, and the closest thing in that regard has been… Matt Diaz? Yeah, not exactly what I would call an “impact bat.” So it’s a little hard to recognize when Wren is talking out of his azz or when he’s serious about acquiring a serious player.

Phil

July 1st, 2012
10:22 pm

Where is the Master Regeneration Man, Leo Mazzone, when you need him? Remember how he used to make the nothing into something?

Braves sign Ben Sheets | PRO Rumors

July 2nd, 2012
12:06 am

[...] Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with GM Frank Wren who had this to say about Sheets’ bullpen session. “You look at him being a guy who, if the progression goes as we hope, that he could join our rotation in the next few weeks. What we just saw in the bullpen was very impressive.” [...]

[...] as we hope, that he could join our rotation in the next few weeks,” said GM Frank Wren to Dave O’Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “What we just saw in the bullpen was very [...]

Corey

July 2nd, 2012
6:26 pm

Enter your comments here

Corey

July 2nd, 2012
6:38 pm

Maybe this will turn out to be one of those low risk, high reward type of deals as they hope it will. I seriously doubt it but maybe it will work and at the least make a decent number five starter. My biggest worry is now Frank Wren will be content with Sheets and not try and go after Greinke. I wish they would unload the strikeout king Dan Ugla to someone as well as Hinske, Diaz and Jack Wilson, who are useless anymore. Maybe that would free up some money to get Greinke and a power hitting outfielder. I still wonder how much longer they are going to keep the injury prone Moylan around also. Maybe Gilmartin would make a quality lefty starter for next season.

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