There also is the sense that Heilman, as a two-pitch reliever, can be much more effective -- regardless of the team's needs -- than as a three or four-pitch starter. One teammate went so far as to suggest Heilman has "closer stuff." Consider his strikeout ratios -- 9.82 per nine innings in relief and 7.30 per nine as a starter.
Just when you think things should be a bit more settled, things are getting all shaken up. The Mets are pretty much knee deep in shit, though Marty Noble put it more eloquently. Eric hit the nail on the head with the loss of Juan Padilla most likely being a league average pitcher that was lost. Of course, he could still have performed admirably against lefties, which the Mets were hoping he could do, and that would have been fine and dandy with them.
The reality of it all is that Padilla is down. The Mets have no idea what they have with Sanchez or Julio, their two new imports. Victor Zambrano has done nothing but throw in relief in the WBC and cannot possibly be up to full strength (is that a bad thing or good thing?). Their LOOGYs are not exactly impressing and Heilman is now in danger of being moved into the bullpen to satiate the need for a guy that can get lefties out. However, here's the thing. He would not only possibly the be the best guy in the bullpen outside of Billy Wagner, he would not be used in special situations. He would presumably be used in the higher leverage situations if they were going to use him right. If he was being used in any other way, it would be just ridiculous.
Sure, there would be times where they could fix it that he would be facing Howard, Abreu, and Utley in a row, but those would be isolated incidents that the high leverage situations would coincide with two or three lefties coming up. With that being said, Brian Bannister has looked good. He might be able to put up league average stats just like Aaron Heilman. However, I think Heilman has the ability to put up better than league average numbers. He might spit the bit, but he might outperform expectations too. A rookie in Brian Bannister would give what you would hope out of him at best, which is league average stuff. I cannot see him coming in and having a stellar impact. Holding down the end of the rotation steadily? Sure. Stepping up to be a #3 starter? Not likely, but Heilman could in my eyes.
That is not to say Bannister should not be taking someone's rotation spot, but just not Aaron Heilman's. Despite the fact the Mets have some questions in their bullpen and did not have a chance to learn their new guys, they trusted their decisions to get them and give up some talent and now it is time to back them. Juan Padilla (who is just one guy in case anyone forgot) should not be the reason Heilman heads back to the pen. Heilman should be the reason Heilman heads back to the pen if he cannot handle it and would better be served as a reliever. It is too soon for that and he deserves the right to fail at this point. Juan Padilla going down should not affect that.
And when asked if he could ever be 100 percent again, Martinez just shook his head.
"I have no idea, but I'm not expecting it to be," he said, but added, "Once I get into the heat of a game -- erase -- I'm going to blank it out."
"I don't know what happened," Venezuela Manager Luis Sojo said. "It was a good pitch, right down the middle. He didn't catch it."
I wonder if Ramon Hernandez will be able to get off a plane in Venezuela without fearing for his life. At least the WBC is creating goodwill between countries.
Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, was wrong about the Dominicans. After they battered Venezuela, 11-5, in the first round, Chávez said: "The Dominicans were lucky. We will eat them alive in the rematch."
You have to love heads of state getting in on a little trash talking. Maybe you should worry about crime and kidnapping?
"He's one of those guys who makes you feel like you're out there facing a Maddux in his old days when he's throwing a little harder," Floyd said. "It's like if he gets down in the strike zone, it's like he can throw a strike with his eyes closed."
Cliff Floyd drove in four, including a three-run homer in a nine-run fourth, and David Wright ripped a two-run single and a solo homer. ... Lastings Milledge made two highlight-reel catches in center field and Kaz Matsui added a bases-loaded single. ... Lefty reliever Matt Perisho gave up three runs on three hits in the fifth. ... IF Chris Woodward (flu) returned to the lineup.
Milledge was partial to the catches.
Milledge, who is batting .286 and is destined for Triple-A Norfolk, said he enjoyed the catch more than the hit. "You don't have a lot of opportunities to make good plays in the outfield," he said. "Hits come and go. But the catch helps that bond you have with the pitcher, when he knows you're going all out for him."
If Japan beats South Korea and the United States defeats Mexico, they will be tied with South Korea at 2-1. In the tie-breaker system, involving runs allowed divided by number of innings played, the United States could be eliminated depending on the number of runs in the Japan-South Korea game. The United States faced the same predicament in the first round and survived.
Team USA manager Buck Martinez said yesterday that "Damon's been conservative with his throwing the whole time here. He hasn't thrown much. We haven't done anything here that's affected Johnny Damon."
But Damon apparently told his friend Jason Giambi that Team USA was "trying to speed them along" in drills to get into game form, Giambi said yesterday.
Carlos Pena's future as a Detroit Tigers first baseman is no more, or less, certain this week than it was when spring training convened a month ago.
Various reports have suggested Pena will be released Thursday, the final day players under contract for 2006 can be jettisoned for one-sixth of the salary owed them -- in Pena's case about $470,000 of the $2.8 million he has coming for 2006.