Immediate speculation is this deal would enable the Cubs to free up some of their young pitching to re-start trade talks with San Diego for Jake Peavy.
Aaron Heilman could have ripped the Mets, but took the high road when asked about his time in New York when questioned by The Seattle Times.
“Playing in New York is the only existence I’ve known and I think you get used to it,” Heilman said. “You learn to accept the fact that you are dealing with a very passionate, very knowledgeable fan base. … New York’s one of those markets where unless you win the World Series, it’s not a good year.”
Clearly, Heilman wanted to start, but the Mets valued him in the bullpen. It was always presumed he would have left when he became a free agent. However, the Mets beat him to the punch and included him in the J.J. Putz trade.
“I certainly didn’t look at it as I really wanted to get out of New York,” Heilman told the paper. “I was kind of looking forward to going back and showing that last season was an aberration and to get back to what I normally can do.”
When he’s on his game, and he wasn’t for much of last season, he’s capable of getting hitters out from either side of the plate.
Heilman had productive stretches both in 2007 and last season, but didn’t come close to his 2006 effectiveness. Especially, when it came to keeping the ball in the park.
More than a few times he denied he was scarred by giving up the Game 7 homer in the NLCS.
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?
The following relievers will be available this winter in the free-agent market. Joe Beimel and Juan Cruz are intriguing, but are they worth throwing piles of money at? I’m not so sure.
Unquestionably, the Mets’ bullpen was horrible last season, but GM Omar Minaya’s analysis is wide ranging. Were the individuals simply bad and past their prime, or just had a bad season? To what degree were injuries a factor (Aaron Heilman)? How much did throwing out of their roles determine the results?
The Mets will add a body or two from this list, but I don’t see a major overhaul. If they don’t deal Heilman, and I’m starting to lean in the direction of them keeping him, the set-up relievers might not change that much.
I can see Heilman, Schoeneweis, Ayala, Feliciano and Smith coming back. I can also see Parnell or Kunz getting a shot. Then there’s the closer they’ll add, and the more I think of it, the more I can visualize it being Trevor Hoffman.
Here’s the list of available free-agent relievers:
Jeremy Affeldt CIN
Luis Ayala NYM
Joe Beimel LAD
Joe Borowski CLE
Juan Cruz ARZ
Brendan Donnelly BOS
Alan Embree * OAK
Scott Eyre CHC
Kyle Farnsworth DET
Casey Fossum DET
Brian Fuentes COL
Aaron Fultz CLE
Tom Gordon * PHI
LaTroy Hawkins HOU
Mark Hendrickson LAD
Trevor Hoffman SD
Bobby Howry CHC
Jason Isringhausen STL
Steve Kline SF
Brandon Lyon ARZ
Damaso Marte * NYY
Tom Martin COL
Julio Mateo PHI
Guillermo Mota MIL
Will Ohman CHC
Darren Oliver LAA
John Parrish SEA
Chris Reitsma SEA
Dennys Reyes MIN
Juan Rincon CLE
Francisco Rodriguez LAA
Brian Shouse MIL
Rafael Soriano ATL
Jorge Sosa NYM
Mike Stanton * CIN
Salomon Torres * MIL
Derrick Turnbow MIL
Oscar Villarreal ATL
David Weathers CIN
Dave Williams NYM
Matt Wise NYM
Kerry Wood CHC
Let’s go under the assumption Aaron Heiman’s bad knee was the real reason for his miserable year and he could be a viable pitcher again. Before we torch the guy, remember he was very effective in 2006 (save that one pitch) and for the most part in 2007.
Here are the options:
-Never mind, just trade him for what you can get.
-If the Mets are unable to land a significant starter, finally give him a chance in that role.
-If the Mets are unable to obtain a significant closer, give him a chance in that role.
-Keep him in the bullpen as a set-up reliever.