By Mike Steffanos
There is more buzz around this morning about Aaron Heilman being sent back to the bullpen. In Adam Rubin's notes column for the Daily News, he also notes that the Mets seem inclined to keep Victor Diaz on the major league club, leaving only 6 spots for relievers. I have to say that I like the idea of Diaz on the Mets, I think you can give Cliff Floyd some days off against lefties and that will help him stay strong for the long haul.
I'm curious about who, in a group of Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Chad Bradford, Jorge Julio and [insert lefty here], will be pitching long relief, but I have to admit this is a pretty damned good bullpen.
Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog makes the interesting observation that this would indicate a total lack of confidence in Jorge Julio. That's not that hard to understand, I guess, I'm just not sure what you're going to do with him. If his psyche was battered in Baltimore by losing the closer's job, what's going to happen when he is coming into a game in the fifth inning or saving games in Norfolk? The 2006 New York Mets -- never a dull moment, and the season hasn't even started yet.
We'll see how it all shakes out. I'd still like to see them open with Heilman as a starter and give it a month or so. Understand this is nothing against Bannister, who I really like.
Daily News: Heilman goes to the 'pen, Diaz stays in the majors
Adam Rubin echoes what Marty Noble wrote last night, that Aaron Heilman is destined for the bullpen. He also cites officials that Victor Diaz will join Endy Chavez on the Mets' bench, limiting the team to 6 relievers. Rubin also notes that Yusaku Iriki, who looked good early on, has seen his stock fall due to control problems.
Newsday: Pedro's outing
David Lennon reports on Pedro's strong debut, offering these encouraging words from the veteran pitcher on the infamous toe:
It [hurts] a lot less than the second half. Believe me. I'll pitch like this all year. If this is how I'm going to feel, you can just forget about it.
New York Post: More on Pedro
Mark Hale also reports on Pedro's start, offering quotes from Martinez and catcher Paul Lo Duca:
Pedro: I was really shocked how good of command I had, adding and taking off velocity at this stage. It was just great.
Lo Duca: ... This is no disrespect to anybody, but he's your horse. He's your guy. We've got a great pitching staff, but he's the key. We need him healthy. He's your stopper. It is huge. It's a mental lift for the whole ballclub to see him out there throwing the ball good.
Probably the only ones who won't be happy with Pedro's debut are Braves fans who are counting on his toe to fall off (and Schmoltz' shoulder to hold up), and talk radio hosts who will now need to find something else negative to talk about.
New York Post: Randolph on Zambrano
Mark Hale passes along this quote from manager Willie Randolph following Victor Zambrano's successful 6 inning stint yesterday:
I said from Day One that Victor looks like he's a lot freer this spring, like he's a lot more fluid.
He has been saying that, the difference now is that a few people are actually starting to believe him.
Metstradamus: Mets Preview
Metstradamus has a really good preview of your 2006 New York Mets, including some solid discussion about the bullpen upgrade. By the way, I'm getting a little annoyed with Rosenthal, too.