Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Two weeks in the books

Here is a note from CBS Sportsline on Aaron Heilman:

Unfortunately for Heilman owners, the Mets' former No. 1 pick is too good as a setup man to move to the rotation at this point. He's likely the Mets' No. 6 starter, though. It doesn't help that rookie Brian Bannister is off to such a great start in the Mets' rotation. Heilman's best chance to start is for Victor Zambrano (hamstring) to fail or be unable to start.

That's right. Why waste him for the first 5-7 innings of a game when he can be used for one inning towards the end of the game? After all, the later innings are much more important! Why else would teams always use their best reliever in the 9th inning?

What's really scary is not that there are ostensibly professional commentators who can't see the rank stupidity of the "too good to start" idea, it's that it is quite possibly just what Willie Randolph is thinking. This is, after all, a guy who batted David Wright 7th last year, and, after a full season of watching him be the best hitter on the team, now bats him 6th.

Jose Reyes has been hitting the snot out of the ball, and rather than simply dismiss it as small sample size and resume my usual rants about his doesn't-walk-iness, I will say that to my untrained eye, his at-bats are looking a lot better. He still only has one walk so far, but he does not seem to be swinging at everything and when he does swing, he's been hitting the ball. I don't really care how he gets his OBP up to .350. If he bats .335 with a walk every two weeks that's fine by me, and if any power develops it will be beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Brian Bannister is doing just fine. I really hope it continues. I should also point out that Jae Seo has given up 4 HR in his first 8 innings in LA, and that Duaner Sanchez has looked great. So the first two weeks of the season look good as far as that trade is concerned.

However there remains the thorny issue of Jorge Julio. Let me just say that it gives me no pleasure to have been right about this one. When I saw those 250 lbs of run-surrendering beefsteak come lumbering out of the bullpen on April 5, the feeling of inevitability wasn't pleasant at all. I didn't look forward to other Mets fans discovering what I already knew, deep in my bones, to be true: Jorge Julio sucks. Meanwhile Kris Benson has turned in two exceptionally clean seven-inning efforts in Baltimore.

Not-Quite-Preseason Predictions

NL East

NL Central
St. Louis

NL West
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco

AL East
New York
Tampa Bay

AL Central
Kansas City

AL West
Los Angeles

World Series: Mets over Indians
NL MVP: Pujols
AL MVP: Rodriguez
NL Cy Young: Peavy
AL Cy Young: Santana
NL ROY: Fielder
AL ROY: Kinsler


stumped1 said...

i agree with most everything you write, with the exception of the julio deal. i still like it. granted julio doesnt look good, but bannister has. imo, bannister julio, a decent prospect(maine), and millions saved for later, is better than benson and a heath bell type. i know benson had his days and is a decent pitcher, but zambrano carried the team for a while last summer too, and gets absolutely no respect. so why does benson suddenly? this deal does have the chance to blow since its built on potential rather than proven commodities. but the potential for damage can be controlled by not pitchin julio in tough spots until they see if he can turn it around. hes still k'ing guys so i still think there is hope for him to become a good reliever again. this trade will never be looked upon as an upgrade of epic proportions, but it still seems to me to be a slight upgrade at this point because of the potential and flexibility it created.

Doyle said...

Zambrano had a very good June last year (in which his record was 2-1), and a very good 14 IP in September (in which he was 0-1). To say that he "carried" the Mets at any point is overstating your case.

If the Mets still had Benson, and if they had given a bullpen spot to Heath Bell instead of Julio, they would be an even better team right now. Personally, I'd have laid low until Julio got his ERA back under 10 before defending that deal, but then you've taken harder cases in the past.

stumped1 said...

granted its a hard case to make with julios stats, but he still has the potntial. what you fail to see in that trade is maine and a crapload of money to use later, and that bell is still there should julio continue to suck. benson is not a top of the rotation guy by any stretch of the imagination, so wheres the harm in losing him? ill still take julio, bannister and the moolah over benson and bell and fewer options any day of the week. zambrano was the best pitcher for a good month, and while sayin he carried the team might be sayin it a little strong, he still was a main reason they stuck around so long.

Doyle said...

I'm all for fiscal responsibility, but there's a time and a place for it and I don't think this is the year to be shedding salary and stockpiling John Maine-types. Break the Wilpon bank for all I care. The object for 2006 was/is to get the best players possible.

Benson is not an ace. I've said this all along. Where you lose me is when you take that to mean he's wholly expendable. Any guy who's a good bet to keep his ERA under 4 is valuable. A reliever who has to improve mightily to do so is not.

It's not like we got Brian Bannister in the deal, either. That he's been decent (not dominant) in his first 3 starts is nice, but I'm not sure how having fewer SPs equals greater "flexibility" in baseball terms. And again, I can't fathom how you could be more excited by Julio than Bell.