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Heilman to the Bullpen -- The Gods Must Be Crazy

Mike SteffanosMonday, March 27, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I'm never totally shocked by anything that happens with the Mets, but I have to admit that I'm somewhat surprised by this story on Mets.com. According to Marty Noble, the Mets are thinking of moving Aaron Heilman back to the bullpen:

That possibility came to light Sunday as people familiar with Minaya's thinking discussed the situation. Wagner, Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Jorge Julio, Chad Bradford and a left-hander are likely to make up the bullpen.

With all due respect to Omar Minaya, I believe this would be a mistake. At a time when there actually seems to be some signs of life from all the candidates for bullpen jobs, why pull a promising guy out of the spot where you are thinnest?

Brian Bannister has been doing a great job. There would be no harm in sending him to Norfolk for a while, however. He's only had a few games at the Triple-A level, it wouldn't hurt for him to gain some experience there and serve as a viable insurance policy of the type that the so-called "experts" didn't believe the Mets had this year. A starter is going to go down at some point and you're going to need him, bank on it.

Meanwhile, give the bullpen a chance to shake out, for God's sake. I know the Mets aren't expecting their starters to go deep into games very often, but you might actually have some trouble getting all those guys enough innings to stay sharp. I don't want to get too carried away with spring performances, but the bullpen has looked alright lately. Let's move a little slower here. You obviously had some belief in Heilman as a starter, let's give him a fair shot. We can always move him back to the 'pen if need be.

Noble also mentions that clubs have been enquiring about the availability of Heath Bell. He's looked pretty good at times for us last year. How about giving him one last real shot before we give him away for some marginal prospect?

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Comments (5)

As much as Heilman wants to start, and as much as I know he deserves to, I believe the Mets are a better team with Bannister in the rotation and Heilman in the pen. Heilman's presence in the pen and his past success there, is far more daunting to the opposition than anyone other Omar could place there. Meanwhile, Bannister has a more diversified repetoire than Heilman, which makes him less predictable to the opposition. And his focus and mindset is a weapon in its own right. In the event of injury to one of the starters, Heilman can always step in.

Heilman should start. No question. Bannister has looked great sure, but if he is in the rotation and Heilman in the bullpen there is absolutely no rotation depth. Aside from that Bannister has had very little time in AAA. He could certainly use a couple more months. Heilman's upside as a starter is huge. Bannister's upside is just average. If Heilman can pitch as a starter like he did in the pen he is easily the #2 starter. And really isn't it easier to move Heilman to the pen if he fails then to the rotation if Bannister fails? Give Heilman his shot, its easy to correct if he doesn't work out and Bannister will move in with that much more experience.

If Heilman gets moved to the pen it will be an OUTRAGE. He is the second best starter in our rotation!!! He is a starter!!! He went 17-0 in his senior year at Dame as a STARTER!!! He had a complete game 1 hitter last season!!! The only reason he stinked before last season was because of his arm angle. He's back to his original form now, and he is a spectacular starter...Omar is a FOOL!!!

Are you people serious. Heilman as the #2. Remember something, take out the one-hit shutout against the Marlings (which was impressive, and unexpected) what were his numbers as a starter. What had they been before that. Heilman, most will agree, was a bust until he went to the pen. He had some good starts, I agree, but he was DOMINANT in the pen. The best after the break!!! I would be fine with Heilman as the 5th man, and Bannister in AAA. Or Bannister as the 5th man, and Heilman in the pen. Dont get me wrong I like Aaron, but he is not even close to our second best pitcher. Wouldnt it be great if Zambrano, Heilman, and Bannister would live up to their potential.
Just dont over sell Heilman just yet. And please do not sell Bannister short too.
Remember that Bannister has shown more in his brief minor league career than Heilman did.

Tol, what you're saying here might be the way it plays out, but what I'm saying is why can't we give it a month or so? Starting pitching is much thinner than the bullpen for the Mets. Bannister might be the only depth of any quality we have.

Korbel, I'm not saying Heilman is a #2, he probably needs to develop a more consistent breaking pitch to be a legit #3. But he is more of a strikeout type pitcher than anyone except for Martinez. Zambrano's strikeouts are down a lot now that he's throwing more strikes. (I'm not complaining, he's a better pitcher) Without Heilman in the rotation, you now have only Pedro that will amass many strikeouts.

Brad, too much coffee this morning, I can identify.

Pete, he didn't have many starts last year, period. I love Bannister, and I like his future. See my answer to Tol, above. No need to rush this move.

It seems to be a moot point anyway, judging by the papers it would seem to be practically a done deal. Heath Bell, we hardly knew you...

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