By Mike Steffanos
The Mets lost a tough game in Philly last night. A stirring comeback went flat on a funky triple and the combination of a swinging bunt and a poor defensive play. I thought part of the reason the Mets lost last night was due to some plays they failed to make. For the most part they've been making the plays this year, and it's shown up in the win-loss record. Everyone is entitled to a bad day once in a while, but I'd sure like to see the Mets tighten things up tonight and go back to playing the really solid baseball they have been playing. Philadelphia is a good team experiencing a nice role right now, and to have an opportunity to beat them in their home park you have to bring your "A" game.
I thought going into the year the Phillies were a better team than Atlanta if they can get their pitching straightened out. I don't think Gordon is as good as he's been the first month, but the Phillies have better pitching than most people think, and a veteran club that's been through pennant race wars. It should be an interesting series, also an interesting race if both teams stay healthy.
My Mom, who's obviously been listening to some sports talk radio, asked me how I felt about what the Mets were doing to "poor Aaron Heilman." After making sure that there wasn't anything unwholesome going on I wasn't aware of (torture, white slavery, etc.) I breathed a sigh of relief. Putting aside for a moment the debate as to whether Heilman should be moved to the rotation at this point, I have to shake my head at the not uncommon sentiment among some fans that the Mets are being unfair to the young right-hander by not giving him a starting job.
While it's clear that Heilman wants to be a starter, and certainly pitched well enough in the spring to earn the job, it's valid for the team to say, "we need you more in the bullpen." Good teams do this all the time, especially to young pitchers like Heilman. In the spring when we heard Heilman would be returning to the 'pen I was against it, feeling that the needs of the rotation were greater than the needs of the bullpen. I'm still not convinced that Heilman won't end up as a starter before much longer this year. But the Mets' argument that their bullpen is the absolute strength of this team is valid, and in any case I've covered this point in depth previously.
If you want to argue the wisdom of keeping Heilman in the bullpen from a baseball standpoint, I'm right there with you as one who clearly sees valid arguments on both sides. If, however, you chose to argue the point that the Mets are somehow damaging Aaron's fragile psyche by ignoring his wishes, you completely lost me. Aaron Heilman, provided he stays healthy, will make a lot of money from baseball. I can almost guarantee that he will be given the chance to start games, if not this year than certainly soon. The only real way to end the debate on whether he can survive the third time through the batting order is by giving him the chance to do it. In the meantime, he's willing to acquiesce to the needs of the team, and that should be the end of the argument as anything other than a purely baseball one.
Daily News: Pelfrey Dominant in AA Start
Eric Barrow reports on Mike Pelfrey's latest start for the Mets' Binghamton farm team. After experiencing his worse start as a pro last time out, Pelfrey bounced back with a strong 7-inning outing. Pelfrey himself was fairly satisfied with his effort:
I'd give myself a B. I made a few mistakes, left a few pitches over the middle of the plate, and my breaking ball ... sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn't. But I showed (the Mets) some stuff tonight. I located some good fastballs and breaking balls. You could see flashes of what I can do.
Barrow cites Binghamton pitching coach Mark Brewer on the Mets number 1 draft pick:
Brewer says Pelfrey needs to continue to work batters inside and throw more changeups, but that all of his pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) are major-league ready and his fluid delivery is nearly flawless.
Laying on the hyperbole, Brewer said Pelfrey "resembles a Don Drysdale or a righthanded Randy Johnson with better command. He has power and the demeanor of a three-to-four year veteran and the aptitude to match."
That's the point, I guess. There's a temptation to really rush him up to the big leagues, and he might even be good enough to handle it. If Jose Lima and/or Jeremi Gonzalez get shelled against the Brewers there will be more pressure to bring him up. Still, he's working on things down there out of the glare of the spotlight that will help him to be a better pitcher when he does make the majors. I remember Brian Bannister said something early in the year. I don't have the exact quote, but it was to the effect that the minors are about development, the majors are about production. Of course you can improve in the majors, but you don't have that low-pressure opportunity to work on things in games that you do in the minors. I hope to see Pelfrey this season, but only when better baseball minds than my own believe he's ready.