Heilman a Starter?

Please, don’t tease me.

Adam Rubin wrote in his pregame blog yesterday:

Manuel plans to stay away from Aaron Heilman for a second straight game today, after Heilman tossed three innings Saturday. Told he could now use Heilman as a starter, Manuel said he told Heilman the very same thing.

Then, in Rubin’s postgame he wrote:

Jerry Manuel said Aaron Heilman would have pitched the eighth, rather than Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis, who combined to allow five runs. But Heilman was unavailable after tossing three innings Saturday. (By the way, we noted before the game that Manuel did tell Heilman he’s now stretched out to be a starter. But there’s zero chance of that actually happening.)

Here at MetsToday we’ve been waiting three years for Heilman to get another shot at starting. In fact, part of the impetus of this blog was to voice support for Aaron in a starting role. So if this is just hot air from Rubin, I’ll find a way to get credentialed to a game and put salt in Rubin’s coffee in the press box. That’s not a threat, but a PROMISE!

Seriously though, if John Maine’s shoulder turns out to be an issue (it will), now is as good a time as any to give Heilman a shot at starting. Of course, the Mets would need to find a late-inning reliever to fill Aaron’s role in the bullpen. Hasn’t Matt Wise faked an injury long enough?

The odds are long, particularly since Jon Niese was promoted to AAA New Orleans. That is a sure sign that 1) Niese won’t be traded; and 2) the Mets plan to promote him to the bigs if necessary.

There is a possibility that Niese, who has been pitching well in AA, could suffer a temporary setback by facing better hitters at the AAA level. If the Mets were serious about trading him, they wouldn’t have moved him to a higher level, where his weaknesses might be exposed. Or, maybe they’re banking on Niese surprising AAA hitters who haven’t seen him before and hope to get a lights-out start before the July 31 deadline to raise his value (his first AAA start will be today). Hard to tell, but my guess is that if Maine’s MRI shows anything of concern, Niese really will be untouchable.

Who knows though … maybe the Mets will pull off a deal for an outfielder and a reliever, and are serious about moving Heilman to the rotation — a role that better suits his personality, in my humble opinion.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Micalpalyn July 29, 2008 at 11:27 am
    Jon niese has been touted for a while. He rarely has received much recognition but then growth curves for pitchers are rarely linear.

    Tracking back other GMs have asked for him including in the Santana trade. But Omar seems to have wagered that niese and Bob Parnall might be near ML ready and as such invited them to Spr training. Niese’s decent showing in Spr did not hinder him either. My guess is Omar NEEDS Niese as insurance if Ollie leaves. also he competes next Spr as the 5th starter.

    The buzz appears that Kunz might be central to deal if one happens. Frankly I concur with Isuzu that Huston Street is an apple of unprecedented rosy color that should be plucked. The mets farm though is not as cancer ridden as many deem it to be. I discount AAA as dead zone where former ML and AAAA players languish waiting for 1 Sept when rosters expand. To me the last 5 yrs and recent trades have shown that the near ready stars are at AA and may or may not see some AAA action. Wright and Reyes briefly saw AAA, Millz and Gomez the same before their debuts.

    I also agree that Manuel has been unsuccessful in getting the BP to be flexible. heilman and Wags have been the closest to reliable. I dont think muniz has embarassed himself, but there is clearly a need for upgrade and too i wonder if Manuel is not ‘exposing’ some of the achilles heels (prior to the deadline).

    Alot has changed. The emergence of Tatis and re-emergence of Del make the hitting needs less glaring. However the BP has not been happy. as one commenter noted THIS BP absolutely needs the starter to go 6 innings (and then some). As such the BP is first. There are alot of arms out there too. BAIT: Carp, Murphy, parnall, Kunz, Dillon Gee, Moviel are all considerations. I think the typical 3-1 deal could net Street…ie Parnall, Carp and Gee. Notables Newly promoted Mike Antonini.

    Untouchables: Niese, FMart, ruben Tejada, and Wilmer Flores.

  2. isuzudude July 29, 2008 at 12:08 pm
    good post, Mic. I’d add Brad Holt to your list of untouchables, although I’m not sure how much intrigue he’d be getting from other teams.

    If Maine is going to be shelved for a while, I’m wondering if the Mets have enough solutions in-house to deal with his loss and avoid trading for AJ Burnett, Greg Maddux, or some other starting pitcher. Seeing that Pedro, Vargas, Figueroa, Knight, Heilman, Neise, and Duque are the horses to choose from, I’d say Omar should spend his energy fixing the bullpen and let the starting pitching alone. I’d offer Oakland any 3 minor leaguers not on Mic’s untouchable list for Huston Street in a heart beat, and cross my fingers Billy Beane likes our farm system more than the critics. And then hopefully the OF will take care of itself when Church returns, and if not then Omar can make a deal after the deadline for a lesser but still solid OF who can pass thru waivers (a la Shawn Green in ’06).

  3. joe July 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm
    With Maine possibly having an injury, I don’t think anyone is untouchable and imagine the Mets will make a larger deal that includes both an outfielder and a pitcher … and that might mean more youngsters getting dealt.

    Mic, i’m with you on Niese, but not on Parnell. He didn’t show anything to me in ST and he’s only about average in a pitcher’s league. To me his fastball had good sink and OK velocity but he tipped off his slider and he didn’t have command of a changeup. I think he might need a third year at AA, and then be moved into a bullpen role. In fact I’d move him to the ‘pen now to see if his velocity will increase — if so he could be a factor in MLB by early ’09. But I don’t know that he has a whole lot of value on the market, and the same with Kunz. The Mets would likely have to part with F-Mart to get Street.

    You know what? This F-Mart / Street thing with Billy Beane is strangely reminiscent of the Milledge / Blanton rumors of yesteryear.