Nov 20

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?

Nov 19

Should they say goodbye to Ollie?

PEREZ: Should the Mets let him walk away?

PEREZ: Should the Mets let him walk away?

There are some of you who think I don’t care for Oliver Perez. Not true. I like the guy. I just don’t like watching him pitch on the days when Coin Flip lands on tails.

That said, he’s 27, lefthanded, and can throw the hell out of the ball. He made some progress this year with a modified delivery. Those days when he’s on, well, he’s pretty special to watch and worth keeping.

On those other days, well ….

The Mets say they’d like him back, but with a commitment toward going after Lowe and possibly setting up  Niese in the fifth spot, where does that leave Perez? Obviously, they aren’t optimistic.

I know he wants five years, and from $12 million to $15 million has been speculated. That’s a lot for somebody with great stuff but mediocre numbers.

So, should they cut their ties with OP or try to keep him.

Nov 18

On the Table: One more year for Pedro?

MARTINEZ: Wants one more year with Mets.

MARTINEZ: Wants one more year with Mets.

Bringing back Pedro Martinez for a year was a topic last night in Mets Chat Room, and his agent, Fern Cuza, said the future Hall of Famer wants another season with the Mets.

No surprise there.

“I can still pitch,’’ Martinez told me the morning of the season finale. “This hasn’t been a normal year for me.’’

With injuries and time off because of the death of his father, Martinez started and stopped several times last season. He was never in cync.

Assuming his health, where would Martinez fit?

Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are ahead of him. Jon Niese will compete for the fifth spot, and the fourth spot in the rotation is uncertain. The Mets are looking at Derek Lowe and bringing back Oliver Perez for the fourth spot.

Martinez is no more than a fifth starter these days. He went at least six innings in half his 20 starts, and only twice pitched seven innings.

If healthy, perhaps he would have won 10 games instead of five. Who can say? Should the Mets give Martinez one more year or roll the dice with Niese?

Nov 17

What’s going to happen with Castillo?

I know you guys don’t want to hear this, but it’s looking more like Luis Castillo will be at second base for the Mets next season.

STOP! Give me a minute to duck while you throw your laptop.

I believe he’ll return for the following reasons: 1) the Mets don’t want to eat his $18 million contract by cutting him, or most of it in a trade; and 2) they believe his value to them is in the hope he’ll bounce back, especially since they don’t think they have a viable second baseman to step in.

Daniel Murphy was a good idea, but for now they like him in left, probably in a platoon with Fernando Tatis, because that answers one question immediately. Or so they hope.

Castillo played well for them in spurts in 2007 and they are banking on him returning to that form.

I’m not saying it’s etched in stone, and I know they’d love to trade him, but the other teams see what’s happened to Castillo, too, and recognize a bad contract when they see one.

Nov 16

So grateful ….

I logged on this morning with my fingers crossed … hoping for a comment because I didn’t like how things unraveled and wasn’t sure if you’d get the message.

Thanks guys.

The free-agent market is underway, and we know the Yankees are being piggy again. Or are they? They want to win and they are going for it. That’s something you have to admire. But, in looking at the Yankees’ riches, what truly separates them from the pack is not only the ability to throw out a figure like $140 million to CC Sabathia as a starting spot, but to take a hit.

They can overcome a bad move by throwing more money at the situation, something other teams – including your Mets – can’t do, or aren’t willing to take the risk.

That’s why I don’t see them making the big K-Rod splash, which, to listen to his agent, begins at $75 million over five years. The Mets are thinking three, which would be more acceptable to their thinking.

Here’s what’s going through Omar Minaya’s mind right now:

1. With $11 million tied up in Billy Wagner, who won’t throw a pitch for them this year, the Mets can’t see investing $26 million for the closer role.

2. Rodriguez has already lost three mph. off his fastball and has become reliant on his change. On the surface that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but if he loses anymore it closes the gap on his change and makes it less effective.

3. His delivery is violent with a lot of torque. Scouts fear an injury. It’s bound to happen within the life of the contract. However, three years might be a different story.

4. In examining the 29 blown saves, seven came in the ninth inning, which averages out to a reasonable one a month. Brian Fuentes would come cheaper and would likely come close to that conversion rate. The bullpen’s collapse primarily came in the seventh and eighth innings. For the price of K-Rod, the Mets could get a closer and another reliever.