Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 28, 2005
BASEBALL: Make 'Em Earn It

Well, the Mets were finally eliminated from the wild card race last night, but at least they made the Astros win to do it, putting an end to a classic too-little-too-late charge. Not being eliminated until September 27 is a decent moral victory, if you're counting them. With the team standing 80-77 and 4 of its last 5 games at home against the hapless Rockies, there are still a few more candidates:

*2 wins gets them a winning record.

*3 more wins gets them their best record since the 2000 NL Champions.

*They're a half game up on the Marlins and Nationals, so holding third place is a realistic goal.

*They're 2 games up on the Padres, who are in first place.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:26 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

BC -

Heilman looks quite capable of closing.

Do you think the Mets will seriously consider using him next season in that role while spending whatever they save (No pun intended. Well, maybe just a little.) on 1B, 2B and C.

Posted by: Eric at September 28, 2005 8:16 AM

I do think they've been thinking about it, but they've reportedly told him to work over the winter on starting - I think he's too valuable as a potential starter to waste in the pen. I think the plan is to let Zambrano and Trachsel walk, get rid of Ishii or groom him (unwisely) as a one-out lefty, and go with a rotation of Pedro-Glavine-Benson-Heilman-Seo.

Posted by: The Crank at September 28, 2005 9:38 AM

I wonder if the success he has enjoyed as a middle reliever will translate over starter innings -a baseball equivalent of the Peter Principle.

He has certainly been a good middle reliever this season and the "promotion" seems to favor closing rather than starting.

However, there will be a lot of experienced closer on the market which leads me to consider one could be had easily. This would allow Heilman to develop as the main set-up man - still a promotion.

Posted by: Eric at September 28, 2005 10:57 AM

I think set-up would be a waste of his talents. One thing also concerns me as a closer: although his K rate and, therefore, BA-against have held up nicely since he began closing, he's also started walking guys at a disturbing rate. He's up to 3BB/9IP, which is too many unless his K rate goes into Wagner/Lidge territory, which it won't. Apart from the problem of extra baserunners, I'm worried that in the closer role he may be trying to be too fine, falling into "nibbling."

Too small a sample size, but another thing to consider.

Posted by: Mike at September 28, 2005 12:15 PM

Heilman's unintentional walk rate per 9 IP in 2005:

As a starter: 2.79
As a reliever: 2.80

The difference is 4 intentional walks in 64 innings as a reliever.

The rate his higher for the last two months - 3.41 unintentional walks/9 - but that goes with 5.12 hits, 0.28 HR, 10.23 K, and an 0.57 ERA in that stretch.

Posted by: The Crank at September 28, 2005 1:22 PM

No doubt he's been great. But you know 10.23 K per 9 won't yield 5.12 hits over the long haul. The home run rate is also a bit fluky. That said, I'm very high on him, just a little worried about the 3 1/2 walks.

Posted by: Mike at September 28, 2005 1:29 PM

The idea that a middle relief position is a demotion is as much "old thinking" baseball as the concept that if you are in the pen, you are a washed up starter.

The valuable middle relief guy is a commodity that everyone in baseball wants, and no one has. I mean nobody. Doesn't mean Heilman is the person, and the idea of a long reliever to help out in games already lost by a bad start is a poor one. They have much more use as a 4 inning bridge when a starter has thrown too much over 4 innings or so, and you need someone to help WIN games. If the Mets has Heilman in that capacity and a good closer (or at least an un-injured Looper, who doesn't generate enough strikeouts to really close), they would still be in it, although their showing this year has been really tremendous anyway.

I also love the comments that the Mets still need a big bopper, such as what Delgado would have brought. Ahem, ya think if the dopes who traded Kazmir for Zambrano--violating the never ever give up on a fast throwing young lefty--had been serious about Vlad a few years ago, ww would have seen things differently. Vlad is the next incarnation of Frank Robinson, Beltran is the next Bobby Murcer (and that's a compliment, Murcer was a helluva player, he was just not Mantle, but then, neither is Vlad).

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at September 29, 2005 11:36 AM
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