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Don't Overpay for Another Arm

Mike SteffanosMonday, March 20, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I guess with the news that Alfonso Soriano is refusing to play outfield for the Nationals, I should get used to the fact that I'll be hearing all sorts of trade rumors between the Mets and Nats. What I wasn't expecting was this from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

The Mets, actively seeking rotation help, have signaled a willingness to trade right-hander Victor Zambrano or possibly right-hander Steve Trachsel in a package for a better starter.

One of the Mets' problems is that they don't have many attractive young players beyond outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-hander Brian Bannister. Scouts love Bannister's competitiveness, saying he's more intense than his father, Floyd, a former major-league pitcher.

It's not that I'm shocked to hear that the Mets might deal for a starter, but what the heck are they going to give up? It seems like the only team that would give up something worthwhile for Victor Zambrano already has (thanks, Jim Duquette), and with so few youngsters of any promise left in the system, I just can't see this. I'd like to at least see what we have with Heilman and Bannister before we panic and give up one of our last few chips. There's even some thought Mike Pelfrey might be pitching in New York this season. I understand we probably need another big-time starter if we hope to go far in the playoffs, but I'd hate to see the Mets mortgage the future completely.

Mets.com: Marty's Bag
The latest weekly installment of the Mailbag is up on Mets.com. A lot of the questions have been covered previously ad nauseum (no wonder Marty gets annoyed with us sometimes), but there were a couple of interesting ones. In one of the obligatory Kaz Matsui questions, Noble offers the following on Kaz' problems:

What scouts say most about Kaz Matsui is that the game in the big leagues is too fast for him, which is odd, because he was accustomed to artificial turf in Japan. But phases of the game other than getting to ground balls are also problems for him.

That was interesting. It doesn't really explain why Kaz keeps getting hurt, though.

In response to a question about moving Heilman back to the bullpen to get out left-handers and make room for Brian Bannister:

It's not a black-and-white issue, because if Heilman is going to pitch as effectively as he has, why not have him start and throw 200-plus innings rather than 60-80?

I've made this point myself. Personally, I'd really like to find out if Heilman is a starter or not. If he can win more than he loses, and keep his ERA under 4, he's more valuable to the Mets as a starter right now -- especially with all the questions marks in the rotation. It's not that hard to move a guy from starting to relief, but if you try to go the other way it would take a few starts just to build his endurance back up. Let's see what we have here with Heilman as a starter, we can always move him back to the bullpen later on. As far as Bannister, as the "sixth" starter for this team, I have a feeling we'll see him in New York sooner rather than later.

Finally, in response to a question about using Zambrano as a reliever:

Pitchers with control issues usually benefit from one of two scenarios -- regular work as a starter with an off-day throwing regimen that helps to maintain command or frequent work that includes regular throwing in the bullpen. Long relievers are usually caught in the middle, and Zambrano does have control issues.

I couldn't agree more. I don't see him as a successful reliever unless he pitches a lot, and there would be too many guys ahead of him in the bullpen. If you don't want to start him you're better off just trading him for what you can get.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: Al Leiter
I have this nagging feeling that I should say something about Al Leiter retiring, and that it should be a bigger deal to me. It didn't end all that well with Al, but he had some big moments for the Mets. Thankfully, Greg from Faith and Fear in Flushing did such a good job capturing the essence of Al, I can just punt and highly recommend checking it out.

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Comments (3)

Darn I was right again.

Looking at most GOOD rotations there is two-four top tier starters, with cheap serviceables at the back end. Last yr benson was supposed to be our 3rd starter, ala Carl Pavano to Beckett/Burnett. But he was not there. VZ iss next in line but ? marks remain. Traxx is DEFINATELY not the one. He is a fifth starter at this point. Traxx is a .500 pitcher at best. compare to pedro who has a chance to win every start. Too often the game is over in the 2nd with Traxx pitching. Peripherals.....How many pitchers ala maddux do not have a FB (over 93) but win...?, several. Bannister fits that mold. Heilman could.

I Am going to miss Leiter:

Look at his pitching! He was unhittable when healthy. Period. His problem was command of the zone. He never had a losing record, no matter how bad the Mets were. (exaggerating...a little).He proved that you dont EVER give a hitter HIS pitch.

I disagree with you. For all the Ahern hype: he is a SS. Period. I do not condone this position switch mentality. We already have one of those in Chris Basak.

I am all for trading high (Heilman ?/Ahern, Jorge, Ring for a decent arm). Detroit has a HUGE surpus of arms and Vic Diaz is a BIG Fit for them, as a DH/LF.

They have 2 huge prospects in Verlander and (Zumaya?) ready to go to the ML. They need relief help and bats. German, Maroth, Robertson, are arms I like. Note this system has coughed up Jeff Weaver before, and got Bonderman. They also have Grilli. Detroit is one place that could take Kaz.

Yeah, we're destined to always disagree on Anderson Hernandez. My biggest question with him isn't playing 2B, it's whether he'll hit enough.

It might surprise you to know that I would favor giving Keppinger the starting job going into the season. He has MLB experience, and he'll make the plays. I think AH still has to prove that hitting well last year wasn't a fluke.

We're also going to disagree on the other AH. I really believe that Heilman will be the pitcher Benson was supposed to be. A really solid #3 guy.

Sorry, that last paragraph came out hypier than I meant it. I really believe Heilman could be a really solid #3. COULD, not WILL.

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