Saturday, September 24, 2005

Failure Spans Eras

It was a strange, surreal scene at RFK Stadium tonight.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, when Roberto Hernandez faced Carlos Baerga tonight, it was like a harsh reminder of the failure of the former Met and of that trade in 1996.

Then, of course, Baerga hits a game tying home run.

The very next frame...the top of the tenth, another Carlos, this time Beltran, came to bat with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position. And again, a harsh reminder of the .213 batting average he carries in that situation, along with all of the other times he's failed to hit the ball hard, or in a gap, or over a wall.

And wouldn't you know...in the ultimate "who cares" moment of the season, Beltran hits a home run...it's like the ghost of failures present meets the ghost of failures past.

Hey let's carry it into next year!

Please.

The one thing you can carry into next year is the job Aaron Heilman did to nail down the game in the 10th. Sure, it was a three run lead, but Heilman made quick work of the Nats to seal the 5-2 win and provided little drama. With the way his pitches were moving tonight you wonder if the Mets have some sort of thought as to trying Heilman as the closer. Obviously, it's not what he wants, just in the way it isn't what John Smoltz wanted either. But Heilman has stuff that could be that much better when pitching for an inning at a time...Smoltz threw his splitter at 87 mph when he was a starter the first time...then threw it at 93 when he was a closer.

Heilman is exhibiting that same kind of difference...he has 34 K's in 42 innings as a starter, and before tonight: 68 K's in 60.1 innings as a reliever. His ERA splits are similar: 4.71 starting, and 2.39 out of the pen. And don't forget his microscopic 0.79 ERA after the break. I'm sure that's something that the Mets will look at over the off-season.

Now, that's not an excuse not to go and spend their money for an elite closer next year...there are still many venues and situations as a closer that Heilman isn't familiar with. And using him in middle relief would almost be a waste of time. But with starting pitching help somewhat abundant in the minors (Yusmeiro Petit, Gaby Hernandez), and quality relievers hard to come by, Heilman's numbers whether he likes it or not, presents him as an option for the bullpen in 2006.

***

Speaking of bullpen options, "mad props" (is that still lingo that the cool kids use) to "The Fly" Juan Padilla, whose ERA dropped to 1.76 after his work tonight. Does this mean that the Mets can stop bringing in 57 has-been relievers to every spring training, hoping one of them sticks when they're only going to retire halfway through camp when they figure out they can't cut it like one of the "Junction Boys"?

***

One more thing about Baerga...

Is it me, or does he look more and more like a cupie doll every day?

And when exactly does MLB start their botox testing policy?

5 comments:

erik love said...

You are the king of picture's man.

I don't want Heilman closing, i don't think he has the mindset. He also is not a hard thrower.

The two most unlikly source's hit Homeruns tonight.

Shocking!

What's next?

A Anderson Hernandez hit?

Metstradamus said...

I agree...I'd rather an experienced closer like B.J. Ryan.

I hope Heilman can be the number 5 starter...but numbers don't lie.

Anonymous said...

Stubborn Willie has already said he doesn't like Heilman in the closer role because he relies TOO much on his changeup as an out pitch. I guess a closer has to throw heat ALL the time, eh WIllie? We can't all be MAriano Rivera you know.
I would much rather see Heilman as a starter next year, although that nasty changeup is the reason his ERA is soo good because people are sitting on the fastball in the late innings.

Shari said...

LOL At least Heilman HAS an out pitch-unlike Looper.

Metstradamus said...

Shari, Looper has an out pitch...an "out of the park" pitch.