New Starter To Come from Within?

Now I’ve heard everything.

First the Orioles reject a juicy deal for Eric Bedard (thank god). Then the Mets are players, not players, then players, then out of it, then back to being players (maybe), for Johan Santana. Whatever, I don’t care anymore. Then AJ Burnett could be had for cheap … oh, no, not really, Toronto was just kidding. Meantime Dontrelle Willis gets spun out of the National League with Miguel Cabrera in a package of minor leaguers. Next we’re told that Billy Beane isn’t trading any of his young starters, and if he is, it won’t be to the Mets. Plus we found out that the Mets were “too late to the party” for Hiroki Kuroda, a 33-year-old who was less than dominant in Japan and is seeking a four-year deal — and we’re supposed to be disappointed about this. Next we’re hearing that David Wells is interested in the Mets — again, like we care? In addition, depending on who you listen to (or read), the Mets are “very interested” in Livan Hernandez, or “have no interest” in him at all. There’s been no rumor of the Mets talking to Carlos Silva nor Jason Jennings, though much speculation. As if all this wasn’t insane enough, some are spouting that the Mets’ “big” acquisition this winter could be either Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon.

But that’s not all. In this whirlwind of a week, the latest to come out is Ed Coleman on WFAN yapping about the Mets moving Aaron Heilman back to the starting rotation.

Come again?

Naturally, we can’t trust Coleman, since he’s the same guy who said the Mets were down on Luis Castillo because he was a bad influence on Jose Reyes. Is this Heilman stuff another of Ed’s wild opinions that he’s passing off as “inside information”, or could there really be some consideration of such a move by the Mets brass?

Those of you who have been reading MetsToday since its inception (yes, BOTH of you) probably remember my constant pestering about moving Heilman back into a starter’s role. In fact, it was something I wrote about once every three days (or so it seemed) during most of 2005-2006. OK, maybe not that often, but enough to annoy most people. I finally gave up on the idea with one last suggestion this past May.

For those who signed on here late, you can check these links: Aaron Heilman’s Elbow, Why Heilman Must Start, Heilman In the Pen, Another Heilman Harangue, Haren, Heilman or Harden (which eerily looks as though it could have been written this week and not a year ago)Heilman or Bannister, and my personal favorite, Aaron Heilman: Dispelling the Myths. These man-crush-like articles are some of my best writing, I think, possibly because I’ve felt so strongly on the subject of Heilman in the rotation.

Finally, though, I gave up on the cause. I’m now certain that Omar Minaya wouldn’t make the switch specifically because I kept writing so logically about it, waited for me to stop the campaign, let the issue cool a while, and THEN he considers the reversion publicly so it would sound like his idea.

OK, it’s my fantasy, let me live it!

If it’s true that the Mets will step away from the table and end trade discussions for Bedard, Santana, Burnett, etc., and instead move Heilman to a starting role, I’ll be quite happy, as I prefer the Mets hold onto the few prominent youngsters they have if they won’t bring back someone like Danny Haren or Johan Santana. At this point, I don’t think Aaron will be a #1-type ace, but I do believe he can be a very strong #3 and possibly a solid #2. My support and facts are in the various aforementioned articles, so I won’t re-state them here. Further, I would feel very comfortable starting 2008 with a rotation consisting of Pedro, El Duque, Maine, Perez, and Heilman. An ace would be nice, but I don’t think it would be necessary to reach the World Series. Did the Big Red Machine of the mid-1970s have an ace? Did the LA Dodgers of the late 70s have an ace? Did the 2007 Rockies have an ace? What about the ’05 White Sox, the ’02 Angels, or the ’00 Mets for that matter? Go and check the rosters yourself, or take my word for it — no, none of those World Series clubs had a Josh Beckett or a Roy Oswalt. It’s nice to have a guy like that on your squad, but if you don’t, you can still get to the big show.

“But Joe,” you’re saying, “just yesterday you wrote that the Mets couldn’t afford to lose Heilman from the bullpen! ‘splain yourself, please!”

It’s true — I did state that. But here’s my thinking. If Heilman goes to the rotation than one or both of Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber would have to also make a transition OUT of the rotation. In addition, the Mets would have to sign Octavio Dotel, and/or acquire another legit setup man, either by hook or by crook. Maybe they give in to Luis Vizcaino’s ridiculous demands. Or perhaps they buy into Kip Wells’ agent’s bright idea that his client is perfectly suited for setup duty. The Mets set up these fallback options in the event that Duaner Sanchez and/or Juan Padilla don’t recover fully, and/or don’t return to their previous efficiencies.

It’s not a terrible idea. What do you think? Would you be satisfied with that five-man rotation, knowing that another reliever was coming into to help pick up the slack?

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. FrankStallone December 5, 2007 at 3:56 pm
    Thanks. I was very curious how you felt about this issue. The best part about it is that Willie would no longer have the authority to overuse him and eventually blow out his arm (which i was really nervous about last year)
  2. isuzudude December 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm
    Well, the matter would have to at least be considered if another Heilman-like arm was inserted into the bullpen. But this whole point is going to be absolutely moot because the Mets have no intentions of using Aaron as a starter. Just as we have to accept that Milledge was a goner because management viewed him as a cancer (whether we agree with it or not), the same we have to accept they don’t view Heilman as a legitimate starting option.

    Now, with Pedro & Duque coming off the books next winter, and Sanchez *hopefully* fully recovered from his arm ailments by then, perhaps this would be an issue better investigated next offseason. Certainly the need for Heilman in the rotation, and the ability for the Mets to afford to have him exit the bullpen, for the 2009 season will be much more in your favor.

  3. JIMMYJ723 December 5, 2007 at 6:31 pm
    I’m probably in the minority (I generally am) but I like Heilman where he is. If he’s moved into the rotation, all we’re going to get is another AVERAGE starter. If we want one of those, we can just sign Carlos Silva, Jason Jennings, Klye Loshe, etc. etc. etc…. without losing an arm out of our bullpen.

    What we need is an ACE. However, I don’t think we should give up our entire farm system to get one. I think shedding Tom Glavin and Gullerimo Mota is already a HUGE plus. It would have been nice to shed Willie Randolph too but unfortunately we’ll have to wait till next year for that to happen.

    It we can’t get an ACE, then I think we just need to pick up an innings-eater like Livan Hernadez. Yes, he’s fat and probably 32 going on 40 years old, BUT, he still has a rubber arm and he’s a lock to pitch 200+ innings. Something we badly need. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Minaya take a shot on that other fat guy, aka, Bartolo Colon. When healthy he still has the talent to be a solid #2 pitcher.

    Let not get carried away because of what happend last year. This is still one of the best teams in the NL without making any additions. I think we’ll just have to be patient for a while and let Omar do his thing. I have complete confidence he’ll turn this team into a perennial championship contender. It’s just gonna take some time.

  4. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm
    I’m not high on Aaron as a starter or reliever. But I put 10X more value in his stock as a reliever.

    As such here is my best interpretation of Omar:

    a. Reyes, Wright, Mulvey: untouchable
    b. Blow me away (and then some) Pedro, Beltran, Deolis, F-mart, Gomez

    2. TARGETS:
    a. Burnett, Vazquez, Bartolo, Silva possibly Leiber

    Santana, Haren, Harden: Priced too high. Beddard possible (for 3 players) from the list Isuzu had out for Burnett.

    3. My Logic: Standing pat, the mets are good for 85-90 wins (despite Willie). Pedro, Maine, Ollie, Elduque then (silva)/ Pelfrey/Humber/Sosa open the season. The key here is relief and Sanchez, aaron, So and wags are locks plus dont forget Sosa. Add freddy or bartolo who could be good by mid season and could get on a hot streak, while El-duque rests (in the pen).

    4. bottom line I am not mortgaging the farm. There are other options.

  5. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 6:53 pm
    Joe: Please add a small picture of a bomblast next to the Jose Reyes rumor

    seen Metsblog in the last 10 minutes? now We are hearing DETROIT has offerred Willis to the Mets …………