On the Table: What is Heilman’s future with Mets?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

We’ve had this conversation before about Aaron Heilman and we’re having it again because he brought it up. Heilman’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said the pitcher wants out of the bullpen, and if not, then out of New York.

“The object the entire time has never been to get out of New York,” Rodgers told The Daily News. “The object is to get out of the bullpen. The most success he’s ever had as a pitcher has been as a starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Mets as a starting pitcher.”

Currently, the Mets, who have contractual control, favor the status quo while they shop for a starter. Heilman made made 25 starts from 2003 to 2005, going 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA, but was moved to the pen in the spring of 2006 when Brian Bannister – since traded – won a spot in the rotation. Heilman was 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA and five blown saves.

The Mets are attributing much of Heilman’s bad year to a knee problem, which if healed by rest, would make trading him a hasty decision.

Well, what to do?

-Should they trade him and risk him healing and being productive elsewhere?

-Should they give him a chance to compete in spring training for the fifth starter role, with the understanding he’ll go back to the pen if he doesn’t earn the job?

-Should they tell him to shut up and pitch in the pen, knowing he’s gone once he becomes a free agent?

48 thoughts on “On the Table: What is Heilman’s future with Mets?

  1. If he can be dealt in a package for someone that can help the Mets…bye-bye.

    Personally I want him gone no matter what. To me, he’s the face of failure in the bullpen. That being said, I’m not keen on giving away someone for pennies on the dollar, so if that’s the case, he may (ugh) have to come back.

  2. And I know this is his agent speaking and Heilman has never been a disruptive guy with his “wanting to start” bit, but man, tell your agent to shut the hell up.

    Coming of a 3-8, 5.21 season and this is what I read?? Gimme a break.

  3. Seems to me that sometimes the best things are under your nose. If the Mets fail in getting a viable #5 via free agency, there is no harm in giving him a shot at the starting rotation. And if he is truly going to be happy doing that, who is to say that can’t translate into him doing a good job starting?

  4. To me, it all depends on his current market value – which I assume is very low. Unless they can get something significant for him, they should convert him into a starter next year and see how it goes. Heilman, Niese, and maybe a guy like Ben Sheets could fill out #’s 4 and 5 relatively inexpensively and switch around with injuries. If Heilman is terrible, we demote him and his value doesn’t really get any lower, if he does well, his value skyrockets for a trade or we just keep him to be a starter.

    Seriously, though, why sell low on the guy?

  5. I don’t think his value is as low as Mets fans think it is. He struggled a bit with the longball in ’07, but outside of ’08, he has been one of the upper-echelon setup men in the game.

    Plus, he’s not eligible for free agency until after 2010 and other teams still view him as a starter…so while his value took a hit from his horrendous season, I don’t think it’s tremendously low.

    If you package him with a prospect, you could probably get something back in return of value.

  6. Off topic, but the Phillies announced Chase Utley is undergoing hip surgery next week.

    Out 4-6 months.

  7. I have to agree with metsman (1)… He is fairly or not the face of failure. He was fine in the pen in 05 and 06 but since the Molina HR he hasn’t been the same. I don’t even care what you get for him. Sometimes you have to part ways, and he needs to go. He’s no longer a kid, he has little value and just because he wants to start doesn’t mean he will automatically succeed. Say good-bye to Queens Aaron.

  8. I would love to see Heilman out of here ASAP … I just hope his alleged knee injury is heaed enough for him to walk from his limo to the departure gate at the airport … wouldn’t want to reinjure the bum knee that caused him to have such a horrid 2008 season, would we? Next to Castillo, Heilman is the biggest slug on the Mets roster … bye-bye.

  9. wow, you guys are really tough on Aaron. He clearly has trade value and I am sure Omar will explore that at the winter meetings…

  10. Heilman is the face of failure? Are you kidding?

    First of all, Heilman deserves the consideration because he is a former first round pick. Wouldn’t it make sense to try to see — one last time — if the guy can start. His value now would be the same if he fails. Other teams will have interest in a RHP that can throw mid-nineties.

    Should Minaya — who has failed miserable two years in a row to build a bullpen, be allowed to trade another guy he didn’t draft who will become successful somewhere else, like Hetah Bell and Matt Lidstrom?

    Having a manager and pitching coach that know how to run a bullpen would help too, because I am not sure that Manuel and Warthen, based on what I saw last season, know how.

  11. Mark (10): Of course he is the face of failure. Who else gave up the game winning HR in game 7 of the NLCS? Fair or not its the lasting memory. Just like Mitch Williams in Philly, pitching hurt he still was best remembered for giving the Blue Jays the flag.
    Heilman was a first round draft pick!! That is meaningless. It was in ’01. The college laurels have all died a long time ago.
    Heilman is not the same as Heath Bell. Heilman has been here for years. He has not been in the AAA shuttle for years. Bell never got past the shuttle. Heilman is 30. 30 is not a prospect anymore.
    It doesn’t make sense to see one more time if he can start. If you make that experiment you are putting high risk on your season with little reason to back it up. He failed for 3 years as a starter.
    This line about a having guys who know how to run a pen is bull. When you haveguys in the pen who can pitch, you can run the pen. Randolph ran the pen with great success in ’06. He became a bullpen dope when the telent left. I’m sure Manuel/Warhten will get a lot smarter if they have guys who can pitch.

  12. and yea..heilman is the face of failure
    im sure all of us can picture the emotionless face of heilman getting the ball taken from him…after blowing a 2 run lead.

    the guy is talented and has great stuff but he no longer can pitch in NY. 1 bad outing and the fans are all over him again. if you can put him in a package to get street (to set up) you gotta try to make that happen

  13. mark- how can you say from what you saw last yr that jerry and warthen cant run a bullpen? what other options to jerry have last yr but to run out there all the time and TRY to find someone to get an out.
    i was at the dc game where we used like 5 pitchers for 3 outs…i dont see how that is manuels fault that the bullpen fell apart and couldnt get any one out?

  14. (10) Mark…you love to make the most ridiculous comments, don’t you? Build a bullpen? The bullpen was fine even during 2007. The only reason it crapped itself was because the rotation that year averaged about 5 2/3 ip/start…so they were fried.

    And Warthen/Manuel didn’t know how to manage a bullpen? What were they supposed to do once Wagner went down? Watch Feliciano get peppered by RH after RH? Or Schoeneweis? Or watch Heilman unravel time after time? Their hands were completely tied because the bullpen was so bad.

    The one BIG mistake Minaya made heading into 2008 was relying on Sanchez to come back and be the pitcher he was. He should have made a bullpen move outside of Matt Wise, but unless you’re psychic and foresaw Heilman and Feliciano, two BIG parts of the bullpen, have career-worst years, I don’t see how you can completely blame him.

    As for Heilman, he is the white-flag of surrender. When he comes into a game, I have ZERO faith in him, like most others. The difference between me and many on here is that I believe he can and will be successful…but probably not here. I have said 10,000 times already since the season ended, unless you want to break up the core of the team, which is borderline insane, you have to subtract key players who are REPLACEABLE.

    Heilman is one of those guys.

  15. Here’s the one beef I have with what Manuel did…he didn’t use the youngsters enough. Maybe Kunz would have failed just as miserably, but after giving the kid a chance from the get-go (unlike Randolph would have done), he pulled the plug on him.

    Same thing in Sept when he let Parnell sit there until the final 10 days. From the sounds of it, he seems like he wants to give them a clear shot come ST, which is nice.

    But saying he didn’t know how to run a bullpen with who he had out there is a ridiculously short-sighted statement.

  16. Trading Home Run Heilman makes more sense now than waiting for spring training. His value is higher now. If he fails as a starter in March then is value 0. If you were willing to take a bad contract back Washburn in Seattle for example a deal could be done quickly.

    Also the next time someone talks about Heath Bell please look at his home-road splits. In 2008 he was great at home but not very good on the road. This might be a better indicator of how good a pitcher he really is.

  17. (17) Scott-Playing Tuesday morning QB, Heath Bell is a guy I’d like in the pen right now. Out of all Minaya’s trades, it was the one that probably made the least sense in terms of who they got back (Ben Johnson).

    Still, those who say that Bell didn’t get a fair shot are way off base. After a very strong ’04 rookie season (17 games), he pitched 42 in ’05 and was lit up like a Xmas tree. He was almost as bad in ’06 in 22 games. Sure, not much chance there, but remember what the ’06 pen was like.

    So, he got into 81 games across 3 seasons and put up an ERA near 5. After the ’06 pen did what it did, he was a spare part.

  18. (18)Metsman, you are right on about Heath Bell. He had plenty of opportunity to show he belonged but never did it. THAT was a guy who needed a change of scenery.

  19. As far as Heilman in the pen goes he had a very good 2nd half of 2007. It is possible that his injury hampered him. And it is also possible that he never got over game 7. I’m torn on what to do with him. If you can trade him to Tampa for Sonnenstine or Jackson you would do it. But i’m not trading him for the sake of trading him as the Mets have done in the past…ie Dan Wheeler for Adam Seuss, Carl Everett for John Hudek, etc..

  20. I still don’t understand why they were so reluctant to give him a chance in the rotation, it almost became like a parent to a kid why is the answer know “becasue I said so” especially with guys like Lima, Lawrence and Williams get shots. I think Peterson had control issues and wasn’t willing to be proven wrong, last year there wasn’t time. I was a little surprised Heilman wasn’t strecthed out in winter ball this year now that the jacket is gone…..

    With that said I cant see him returning to the pen. Too much has gone on coming out of the pen is a recipe for disaster. Heilman is a player screaming for a change and the fans will be merciless. Whether it’s fair or not he is the face of bullpen failure all the way back to the Molina HR. Had the team been successful that would have been forgotten but those wounds never healed because of two years of bullpen implodes down the stretch.

  21. OT –

    Anyone wanting to have a career as a pitcher in the Major Leagues would do well to follow Mike Mussina’s example – finish school then follow your dream.

    Mike made his dream last for 18 years and never gave less than his best. Always polite, but impatient with mundane questions, Mike was a stand up person for both the Orioles and the Yankees. He finished on a high note – a 20 win season.

    Now he goes home to Pennsylvania to his family and where he is already on the Board of Directors of the Little League World Series; ready to guide young athletes to success.

    Good Luck, Mike you were nothing but class to the end.

  22. (22) Ed..funny thing about the homer to Molina, I never blamed him for the loss and neither did a bunch of my friends. The offense failed miserably that night and if I ever see Jose Valentin in a Met uni again, i’ll puke. lol. And I STILL can’t believe that Randolph sent up Floyd to ph instead of Glavine to bunt.

  23. Speaking of Health Bell, heres a guy the mets should get that the White Sox are treating the same way, I dont know how he still has options but hes on a yo yo string, we want him in 2006 bad got out bid and end up with Mota (lol)….

    The White Sox’s have designated Mike MacDougal for assignment, MacDougal has options but the Sox’s have the Health Bell syndrome with him and might be willing to move him. Last year at one point he was sent down while posting a 2.09 ERA to make room for a starter during a double header. MacDougal was an up and coming closer with the Royals and an All-Star in 2003. There were rumors the Mets were interested in him but the White Sox were the team that traded for him in 2006 and then signed him to a three year deal. He’s a hard thrower who reaches 95-98 mph with his fastball along with a slider, changeup and curve ball. The 31 y/o right hander in eight major league seasons, has a 13-20 record with 50 saves and a 4.09 ERA.

    White Sox sent RHP Mike MacDougal outright to Triple-A Charlotte.
    MacDougal is still guaranteed another $3 million, so he’ll accept the assignment and stay with the White Sox for now. He could be either traded or released later this winter. source Rotoworld

  24. (22) Ed-Peterson definitely had a lot of say in it, but after the Mets put him in the ‘pen and he pitched lights out during the 2nd half of ’05, I think they realized how much more valuable he’d be there.

    Plus, they view him as a fastball/change guy. I know he used to have a slider but pretty much scrapped it after dropping his arm angle. I can understand in ’06 wanting him to get a chance, but after his performances from the pen in ’05 and ’06 and even most of ’07, that ship has sailed in NY.

    Personally, I don’t think he’ll be a very good starter. JMO.

  25. Steve neither did I he was good in 2006, the offense choked and it was a HR they happen….But the more failures the more I heard people grumble about it until he was the poster child for failure out of the pen..Which is why he needs a change of scenery either the rotation or another team..

  26. (23)Annie: And to quote Nick Nolte’s character from Blue Chips, “one hundred million chinamen couldn’t give a rats ass about Mike Mussina.” And as far as being a stand up guy, all I remember reading about from writers was how standoffish he was. JD can probably add more to that as he covered the Yankees and would know better. But I do think he belongs in the HOF. 270 and 153 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.10 career whip in the “steroid era,” does it for me.

  27. (24) Steve-I didn’t blame Heilman either, but when he continued in ’07 to allow big homers and this year, in any tight spot, just literally gag on the mound (remember his walk in the first game against the Marlins in the final series…he threw the ball-a fastball mind you-about 58 feet for ball four to force in a run).

    You can blame game 7 on the offense as a whole, but if you HAVE to single out one player, it’s Valentin. Bases loaded, one out and in the top half, Endy did his thing.

    A veteran player like that swinging at splitters in the dirt is pathetic. And though we may not have known it at the time, Willie showed us the type of manager he is by sending Floyd up there to PH. I got caught up in the moment so at the time, I didn’t really mind…but Randolph got caught up in it too and I believe he said so.

    Not what you want from your skipper.

  28. metsman (15)
    2 points to you: One. Mark (10)’s comments were not ridiculous. They stired debate. That’s what this site is for. Debate. We argue we don’t insult.
    Two: You just refuse to see why Minaya is a bad GM. Say we buy your opinion that the pen was ok in ’07 but wore out. Then why didn’t Minaya get some help at the deadline? He idid it in 06 when his pen was stronger because he lsot Sanchez. And then why didn’t he do it in 08. He gets a trading deadline grade of F two years in a row. And please don’t come back with the line about who could he have gotten? That’s his job, isn’t it?

  29. (25)Ed- If he’s available, I’d certainly take a flyer…but not sure I’d trade for him, though the price probably would be exceptionally low, particularly with a salary of $3mm.

    So..on second thought…

  30. I meantioned him because its rumored they just want to dump his salary as he’s not in their plans … As i wrote he had a 2.09 ERA and they sent him down when he came back up he was shaky which I think could be expected if your on a yo-yo for three years after being an All-star with 30 saves

  31. (30) Harry-Probably poor choice of words on my part. Mea culpa.

    About Minaya, I’m going to use the simple fact, that outside of Eric Gagne in ’07 and Damaso Marte in ’08 (both pitched horribly after being dealt too), there was really no one available.

    Remember also, though the Mets were very uneven during the summer of ’07, the bullpen didn’t cost them until the final weeks. Even then, it was as much the rotation’s fault because they were handing back multiple-run leads every game.

    The ’08 deadline I give him a complete pass on. There was not one reliever who I wanted that was traded, and after trading four prospects for Santana, he was probably a bit gun-shy about emptying the system further for middle relief.

    I don’t think Minaya is a great GM, but when OTHER GMs sit on their hands as well, in terms of relief pitching, I don’t see how you can single him out.

  32. Steve (34) It’s OK, I’ve heard those words before, but I appreciate your apology. Nick Nolte was never known for his eloquence :)

  33. Source below rotoworld – I dont know why I’m so darn loyal to this guy but I’d still like to see him in a mets uni – even in a Franco role of player/coach

    Free agent Edgardo Alfonzo went 2-for-3 hit his seventh homer of the VWL season on Wednesday.

    Alfonzo is batting .371/.432/.581 in 124 at-bats. He currently ranks fifth in the eight-team league in homers and seventh in OPS.

  34. btw
    Theo Epstein makes mistakes.
    When the Sox traded for Crisp they gave up
    Kelly Shoppach. If the Sox had Shoppach today they would have a legit replacement for Varitek. Yes he spun Crisp for a good middle reliever but Shoppach is worth more than that.
    Also don’t forget Julio Lugo

  35. (37) Scott: If Omar had won two world series in the last 5 years, I would have cut him some slack. But he doesn’t have the track record that Theo has.

  36. No, he doesn’t at all. I don’t think he’s a bad GM.

    I also don’t think he’s a great GM. This winter will tell me a lot.

  37. The team Omar inherited was much worse off than the Red Sox.
    Would I want Epstein as the Mets GM absolutely.
    Omar is a middle of the pack GM.
    The next 12 months will really let everyone know what kind of job he has done.

  38. I would give Aaron a shot at #5 in spring.

    It would give him hope and unless we want to dump him allow him to be useful to us in 09.

    I doubt we will get two solid pitchers this offseason so I do not see how we lose to offer this.

    He has asked for this EVERY year. This year is no different. We need pitching and if he can help – fine.

    I am hoping that this past year was because of injury. He really is one of the better relievers in the league. For his sake and ours I hope this is a bounce back year.

  39. metsman (33) Have to disagree. The en in ’07 had 2 disasters regularly; Mota and Schoenesweis, and Smith had lost his early flair and was already in the minors. so Minaya knew he was working witha 4 man pen. He didn’t need to find a star he needed some average bodies. In ’08 Chad Bradford was certainly available and I guess Minaya couldn’t deal for him because it raise the questions of why he gave Schoeneweis 3 years and not Bradford. He would have to explain that he was too ignorant of what was going on to realize set up men were getting 3. That’s because he was wasting his time playing wioth Boras and Zito. Thanfully, only the really bad GM of SF saved Minaya this error.

  40. I look at it this way, they Kept Other pitchers who doing a lot worse for lot less reasons. But Who knows. Maybe we just have to see how they juggle the pitchers. The bigger issue is they over use the bullpen. lets hope that changes as time goes by.

  41. SteveC

    That won’t happen.

    We have 3 pitchers right now. Every year in April pitchers wont go past 5, perhaps they are not loose.

    Last year Maine had problems staying in the 6th.

    It looks like #5 may be a rookie, so expect a redux with the pen and everyone to talk about how some guy in the pen sucks.

    What we need and I keep saying this are people in the pen who can pitch to more than one hitter.

    Ideally we need one maybe two who could go multiple innings.

  42. (44)Dave-That is why Heilman’s implosion last year was the biggest failure of the bullpen. He was the one guy they could count on to get LH/RH out…and he couldn’t which threw EVERYTHING into flux.

    Feliciano too, to a lesser extent.

  43. dave (44) It used to be we hoped for relievers who could go more than one inning. Now we long for a guy who can go more than batter. Its pathetic.

  44. Harry

    I agree. They are pathetic.


    If we are relying on Aaron to be the only guy who can get LH/RH out we are pathetic. Feliciano used to be able to do that. In fact he used to go a full inning.

    The pen is terrible in part because it is full of ppl who can only go at one hitter.

    Considering that we have a staff that only goes 6 we have to at least get thru 3 with a pen built to go 1.5 innings. Also half these people get 2 or 3 million a year. For what? To make 5 pitches?

    We have what today is considered an average staff which 20 years ago would be considered pathetic. In the 80’s we really only had to rely on the pen to pitch the last 2. The only pitcher we had to bail out was el sid. He was considered the weak link because in the middle of the 6th you had to go out there.

    Now we have a young pitcher that many here love who does the same thing and we debate if we should throw him 15 million a year for 5 years.

  45. How do the Mets have a staff that can only go six? Johan led the NL in innings, Perez threw 194, I believe and Pelfrey was close to 200 despite not going deep into games consistently until June.

    Heilman/Feliciano were both guys that were cross-overs…but they certainly weren’t last year.

    You’re preaching to the choir about SPs not going deeper into games, but you can’t compare the Mets or any team to the 1980s rotations of clubs…baseball is different now. A “quality start”, which I don’t agree with, is 3 runs in six innings.

    Guys just don’t pitch deep into games anymore.