November 21, 2008
I always supported Aaron Heilman's wishes. The "start me or trade me" phrase means the player has personal wishes and goals to live his life the way he wants to. I think this is exactly what Heilman had in mind when he asked to be put in the rotation a few years ago.
He was denied. He decided to be a good soldier, probably because he loved New York, and understood most of the reasons why the team opted to keep him in the 'pen.
What was it, three years he played along? Aside from the '08 season, he did a pretty good job. And I've made this point before, giving a lengthy explanation. Heilman is better suited to be a starter because he has a few pitches that work very effectively: fastball, change-up, slider, cutter and splitter...a lot of movement, great change in speeds, 95 mph fastball, consistency, control and longevity.
He's been throwing his fastball consistently at 95 since he was called up. He pitches equally against lefties and righties. All I've been asking is that they give him a shot, has that really been too much to ask? They were ready to trade for Odalis Perez from the Dodgers a few years ago! Heilman is fed up and deserves to be.
In a statement above, I mention control to be a strength of Heilman's, and I expect to receive some disagreement. Yes, Heilman walked 46 batters in 76 innings, and posted a 1.59 WHIP. Everybody is allowed a poor season. Note his numbers in the previous three seasons. Also note that his numbers faltered in 2008, at least partially to the poor performances of his bullpen comrades.
The Mets will have Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine in the rotation to start the year. It looks like they'll probably sign a Derek Lowe-type, and, if they do what they've done in the past, Jonathon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Tony Armas, and perhaps Pedro Martinez will all battle for a rotation spot.
Why take chances on the likes of Pedro or Armas? Why rush Niese into the spotlight? He obviously could use another year of seasoning at AAA Buffalo.
Heilman has done his time and, because of the Mets' pitching vacancies, he sees an opportunity to get what he wants and save the Mets a lot of money—and perhaps prospects, as well. I see hope, and I hope it's fulfilled. Minaya—credit Aaron Heilman for his patience and give him his long overdue shot.
Check out his career stats here.
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