Former Met Heilman Traded To Cubs

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The Seattle Mariners traded former Met Aaron Heilman to the Chicago Cubs today. He was traded to the Mariners on December 10 in the J.J. Putz deal.

I have to believe that he told the Mariners that he wanted to start but the M’s didn’t have a spot for him. Heilman will definitely get some kind of shot at starting in Chicago unless they end up completing a trade with the Padres for Jake Peavy. They’ve been rumored to be after Peavy for quite a while now.

Heilman went to Notre Dame so he’s probably happy to be back in the Midwest.

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Mets Get Putz From Mariners

The Mets traded for “closer” J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. It took three teams to get the deal done with the breakdown looking like this:

Mets Get: RP J.J. Putz, RP Sean Green, OF Jeremy Reed

Mariners Get: RP Aaron Heilman, OF Franklin Gutierrez, OF Endy Chavez, and four minor leaguers from the Mets- Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto

Indians Get: RP Joe Smith, IF Luis Valbuena

Clearly, Putz is the big fish in this deal and he’s due to make $6 million this season with a club option for $8.6 million with a $1 million buyout.
Rosenthal: Putz packing for New York
Rosenthal: Putz packing for New York

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Mets 2008 Off-Season Needs: Bullpen

Here’s the post that I’ve been dreading. It seems like the task of defining a reconstruction of the Mets bullpen is almost too daunting. I won’t go into the history of the 2008 season for the Mets bullpen. Suffice it to say, it was nearly a complete disaster.

My expectations are that Joe Smith, Pedro Feliciano, Brian Stokes, and Eddie Kunz will be in the bullpen in 2009. I expect the Mets to dump Scott Schoenweiss, Aaron Heilman, and Duaner Sanchez. They’re all under contract for 2009 but should be either traded for next to nothing or released. Obviously, Billy Wagner is under contract but won’t play in a Mets uniform again due to injury. Luis Ayala will be a free agent and I don’t expect the Mets to make a major play for him to sign a deal.

Let’s start at the top of the shopping list: the Mets need a closer. The two top-tier choices are the Angels’ K-Rod and the Rockies Brian Fuentes. Clearly, K-Rod is head and shoulders above anyone else on the market this off-season. He’ll be looking for a five year deal from somebody. I hope the Mets don’t do it. He’s ultra-talented but the Mets really don’t want to get into a five year commitment to a relief pitcher. Their performance varies so wildly from year to year that it’s too difficult to predict future success levels.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets will be front runners for Brian Fuentes in the neighborhood of 3-years/$36 million:

Fuentes, however, could come off the board quickly because, executives say, his market of around three years at $36 million-$39 million has been established. The Mets have indicated they don’t want to pay a big salary to a new closer in addition to paying Billy Wagner , who will miss all of 2009 and whose $13 million contract is not insured. But they have determined their need is great enough and the top closer on the market, Francisco Rodriguez, might cost too much to sign.

Fuentes has 111 saves over the past four seasons, including 30 last year when he pitched to a 2.73 ERA and struck out 82 in 622/3 innings.

He does have an unorthodox delivery, however, that leads to questions about his consistency and susceptibility to injuries.

Another route that the Mets could go for a closer could be with a trade. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Marlins are expected to shop closer Kevin Gregg. He’s a big step down from Rodriguez and Fuentes but he’s only going to cost $2.5 million next season. With Wagner’s contract still on the books for 2009, the Mets may want to look at cheaper alternatives than the free agents.

The lower tier free agent options at closer would be: Eric Gagne, Eddie Guadardo, Jason Isringhausen, and Kerry Wood. It’s not a great list to choose from. Wood is pretty good but the rest of these guys will give us some major heartache during the 2009 season.

Once the closer spot on the roster is secured, there should still be three roster spots to fill in the bullpen. According the MLB Trade Rumors, the free agent market looks like this (age in parenthesis):

Jeremy Affeldt (30)
Luis Ayala (31)
Joe Beimel (32)
Joe Borowski (38)
Doug Brocail (42)
Shawn Chacon (31)
Juan Cruz (30)
Alan Embree (39) – $3MM club option for ’09
Scott Eyre (37)
Kyle Farnsworth (33)
Casey Fossum (31)
Keith Foulke (35)
Tom Gordon (41) – $4.5MM club option for ’09 with a $1MM buyout
LaTroy Hawkins (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Matt Herges (39)
Bob Howry (35)
Jon Lieber (39)
Jason Johnson (35)
Damaso Marte (34) – $6MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Trever Miller (36) – $2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.4MM buyout
Guillermo Mota (35)
Will Ohman (31)
Darren Oliver (38)
Chan Ho Park (36)
Horacio Ramirez (29)
Al Reyes (38)
Dennys Reyes (32)
Arthur Rhodes (39)
Juan Rincon (30)
Glendon Rusch (34)
Rudy Seanez (40)
Brian Shouse (40)
Russ Springer (40)
Mike Timlin (43)
Ron Villone (39)
David Weathers (39)
Kip Wells (32)
Matt Wise (33)
Jamey Wright (34)

Again, we’re not looking at a great list here. But Jeremy Affeldt, Scott Eyre, Bob Howry, Damaso Marte, Arthur Rhodes, and Joe Beimel have some talent. I doubt that the Mets would fill all three spots with free agents. There are some arms out there that could have a positive impact on the team though.

What the Mets need to do is to avoid getting into contracts greater than two years with these guys. The three year contract for middle relievers is a killer. It rarely works out well. Look at the Schoenweiss deal that’s killing the Mets now. It’s just a bad idea. The middle relievers are so inconsistent from season to season generally that maxing out contracts at two years has to be a priority. Even if the per season salary is higher than expected, it’s better than getting into a long term commitment to a middle reliever.

Chime in with your thoughts below in the comments section.

Mets Go Quietly In 6-1 Loss To Marlins

The Mets had no offense in tonight’s crucial loss that may put them out of the playoffs. They had seven hits and nine men left on base. The one run they scored was on a fielders choice by Brian Schneider in the sixth. They just looked flat as a board and couldn’t have picked a worse time to lay an egg.

Mike Pelfrey appears to be running out of gas at the end of this long season. And the Marlins have had his number all season. As usual, the bullpen gave up three runs over the final three innings to make sure that the Mets would need a monstrous comeback to get back into the game. The capper was Aaron Heilman giving up a bases loaded walk in the seventh on a pitch in the dirt. That was very symbolic of his season.

The Phillies won tonight and the Brewers are on their way to a win over the Cubs. That leaves the Mets out of playoff position tonight.

Box score

Mets Bullpen Fails Again; Marlins Win 4-3

Aaron Heilman blew up again in the ninth inning. He led off the inning by walking Hanley Ramirez, who went to second on a sacrifice, and went to third on a wild pitch. Cantu and Jacobs were intentionally walked,and Josh Willingham was given a walk-off walk on an inside pitch on 3-1. It was another miserable failure late in the game.

The good news is that Mike Pelfrey had another very good start, going 6.2 innings and giving up 2 runs. He ran out of gas in the sixth and seventh innings though. But that could be expected coming off two consecutive complete games late in the season.

Duaner Sanchez gave up a game tying homer to Jacobs in the eighth. He really looks like he has nothing anymore. The shoulder injuries have completely robbed him of his velocity and effectiveness.

As usual, all of the Mets offense came in the first three innings on a David Wright two-run homer in the first and a Luis Castillo RBI single in the third.

The Mets lead is down to one game with a Phillies win in Chicago.

Box score

Mets Pelfrey Dominates Pirates In 2-1 Win

There wasn’t much offense from either team tonight. The Mets put up two runs in the first inning on a David Wright RBI single and a wild pitch. That’s it.

Mike Pelfrey was fantastic throwing seven scoreless innings. The bullpen was a little shaky again with Duaner Sanchez giving up a homer to light-hitting Jack Wilson in the eighth. But Pedro Feliciano bailed Sanchez out in the eighth. And Aaron Heilman got the save in the ninth. Argenis Reyes made a terrific play on a ground ball that Carlos Delgado missed to get a key out at first in the ninth.

The Mets hold onto sole possession of first place with the win.

Box score

Mets Suffer Humiliating Loss To Pirates 7-5

The Mets wasted a good start by Pedro Martinez against one of baseball’s worst teams. In a season that’s been filled with heart-wrenching losses for Mets fans, this one ranks near the top of the list.

Pedro went six innings giving up only one run on 3 hits and 4 walks. The Mets had a 5-1 lead on homers by David Wright and Robinson Cancel.

Enter the Mets bullpen in the seventh. The usual suspects were bombed again: Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano. Duaner Sanchez finished the seventh inning and worked a clean eighth. Aaron Heilman came into the game in the ninth to preserve the win and got lit up again for three runs on two hits and a walk. Scott Schoenweiss actually gave up the winning hit light-hitting outfielder Steve Pearce.

What a stunning loss! It’s hard to take much more of this.

Box score