3/28/2006 10:27:00 PM
GOTTA FEEL FOR HEILMAN
Sure it makes the Mets bullpen better and as a good soldier Aaron Heilman will do as ordered and go to the bullpen, but you have to feel for him as he was a bit bamboozled by the Mets.
After last years breakout season when Heilman excelled in the late innings as a reliever he asked the Mets if he could go back into the starting rotation and the Mets obliged him even telling Heilman to go to the D.R. and pitch in the Winter League to stretch out his arm in anticipation of going back to work as a starter.
But a lot of things changed since, Jae Seo and Kris Benson were sent packing and Brian Bannister emerged as a bonafide big league starter. With Heilman going to the pen, it's a win win for the Mets.
One thing Willie has to do this season which he refused to do last year is define the roles of the relievers. It very simplistic to say guys are paid to pitch and just be ready when called upon. The pitchers in the pen want to know what their function is, as it allows them to get mentally and physically ready when their number gets called.
Wagner knows he's the closer. Willie should tell Heilman now that he is the main set up guy. The guy to get 4-6 outs if need be in the 7th and 8th inning and the guy to pitch the 9th when Wagner needs a blow. Chad Bradford looks to be the ROOGY. Dauner Sanchez could fill the 7th inning role with a lead of 2 runs or better. Jorge Julio could thrive in the less presureized long role. I would bet that Omar and Willie decided on 7 relievers. Darren Oliver or Pedro Feliciano could take a LOOGY spot with Heath Bell grabbing the other. If Lima or Iriki make the team over Heath Bell then that's a travesty. Maybe someday SNY will run the Heath Bell/Jeff Keppeniger Behind the Scenes to see why Omar and Willie hate them so much.
So your Mets pitching staff could look like this:
RHP The Zambrano Project
LHP LOOGY de Jour
With only 3 off days in April and 6 night games at Ice Station Shea, 7 relievers will most likely be needed to start the season. Pardon the optimisim but it does look like a deep and talented bullpen. The starting staff is a question mark as one injury or God forbid multiple injuries could put a dagger in this team as starting pitching depth is nearly non-existent.
The rest of the roster seems mostly what we thought all winter with the exception of Victor Diaz. It's amazing how people are jumping off the Diaz bandwagon. Diaz's main problem is he has no defensive position that he can call his own. That and his lack of versatility. That's what separates X Nady from Diaz. Diaz can hit and will hit where ever he goes but he looks like DH material and that's a shame. X can play all over the outfield and 1st and 3rd base. Even with his late slump this spring, the couple of times I've seen him play this spring he looked very comfortable in RF. Add to the fact the Diaz has an option left, look for Diaz to go to Norfolk (what a waste) and for Endy Chavez to claim the 4th outfiedler spot.
The position players should look like this:
Lot's of depth as Woody and Valentin can play just about anywhere.
I still think Castro is the better catcher and just as good a hitter as LoDuca. With all that Mets are pretty strong at this spot. Even if one of them goes down, Sandy Martinez looked very good this spring and will be in Norfolk just in case .
With Woody and Valentin on the bench and Chavez the superior defensive player and Lastings Milledge's coming out party this spring, that spells bye-bye for Victor Diaz. Victor D will go to Norfolk while Omar works the phones to deal him.
All in all this is a pennant contending team. There is no doubt in my mind that baring a major injury to a starting pitcher or to Wright, Beltran or Delgado the Mets will win 95 games and the NL East by double digits over the second place Braves.