Tag Archive | "Aaron Heilman"

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Moving Bradley Key to Successful Off-Season for Cubs, GM Jim Hendry

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Lou

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA

It boils down to this – if the Cubs can find a taker for disgruntled, troublemaker Milton Bradley, then the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry could have a successful and productive off-season leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule.  Hendry has already made moves – dealing the likes of Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the Oakland A’s for prospects and to clear some salary cap space to sign new deals for arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.

If Hendry can somehow find a team willing to take Bradley (full-well knowing that the Cubs will still have to pay a pretty chunk of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons), it will be a step in the right direction for Hendry.  Hendry has had a series of bad years at the helm and with a new owner in place, Hendry needs to prove his worth to the Ricketts family.  That will be easier said than done as Hendry’s bad moves have left the Cubs brass with little flexibility.

Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella plan to move Kosuke Fukudome back to his more comfortable right field position.  Then Hendry can concentrate on finding a center fielder and 2nd baseman for the 2010 Cubs.  Even though the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Reed Johnson, they have not closed off talks with his handlers.  So Johnson could be back to patrol center field at Wrigley Field next season.

Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are in the running for the starting 2nd base job, so it is unlikely that Hendry will pursure any options outside the organization for that position.

The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to complement John Garbow in the pen.  While the Cubs have a lot of up-and-coming young stars in the bullpen – Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg – Hendry and Pinella would love to see a little more experience back there in front of closer Marmol.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything good – Winter Meetings start next week in Indy…

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA2

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Cubs Trade Aaron Heilman to Arizona Diamondbacks for 2 Prospects

Posted on 19 November 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs traded Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2 prospects today.  The move was done to move an arbitration-eligible player like Heilman – the Cubs still have 7 other players who are arbitration-eligible.  That list includes – Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot, Sean Marshall, Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill and Angel Guzman.

Heilman made 70 appearances for the Chicago Cubs during the 2009 MLB schedule – his only season with the Cubs, the team that he rooted for as a kid growing up in Indiana.  Heilman went 4-4 with 1 save and 6 blown saves.  He had a 4.11 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, striking out 65 while walking 34.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry explained the move this way: “As we move forward in the winter, the way our big league club sets up and the way we have a lot of arb guys, we felt we needed to move some people a little bit before we get to Indianapolis… We feel like we got two solid prospects from the Diamondbacks…  We feel we have some young arms who can take [Heilman’s] place in that part of the bullpen.”  Those arms include Guzman, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.

So just who did the Cubs get for Heilman:

Lefty Scott Maine – 4-5 with a 2.90 ERA and 7 saves in Double A and Triple A during 2009.

2nd baseman Ryan White – .266 batting average with 6 HR’s, 52 RBI’s and a .371 on-base percentage at the Class A level in 2009.

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Carlos Marmol – Closer – But Where Does That Leave the Rest of the Bullpen

Posted on 02 November 2009 by Lou

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I am thrilled with the prospect of having Carlos Marmol as the Cubs’ closer for the entire 2010 MLB schedule.  Marmol was a rock in save situations at the end of the 2009 season – racking up 11 straight saves (in saves situations) from August 23rd on.  Marmol did have 3 hiccups in non-save situations, suffering 2 losses and giving up 5 ER on 5 hits and 5 walks in the process.  But if you ignore those situations, Marmol was as reliable as it gets for a closer.  Barring any off-season setbacks, Marmol should be good to go to shoulder the load for the Cubs in 2010.

Esmailin Caridad pitched very well for the Cubs at the end of the season, but his experience is a factor (he is only 26 years old).  In 14 appearances, Caridad went 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 17 strikeouts and just 3 walks.  John Grabow also pitched well – 30 appearances, 3.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 16 strikeouts and 12 walks.  Grabow is also left-handed, but he is a free agent and the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry still have a little work to do in order to sign him.   The Cubs also have Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman, Justin Berg, John Gaub, David Patton, Jeff Samardzija  and Jeff Stevens.

Spring Training 2010 will give each of these players a chance to prove their worth as a reliable and dependable reliever out of the pen.  Manager Lou Pinella and his staff will have to be at the top of their game to make sure they select the right combination of players that gives the Cubs the best chance to be successful in 2010.

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Cubs GM Jim Hendry Not Done Making Moves – Trades for Aaron Heilman

Posted on 28 January 2009 by Lou

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One thing is certain – Cubs GM Jim Hendry is clearly willing to tweak his Spring Training roster to find the right players that “may” be able to take the Cubs to the next level in the 2009 post-season.

Two things are definitely uncertain – Will it work? Does Hendry have a consistent plan or is he flying off th cuff right now?

The Chicago Cubs traded utility infielder Ronny Cedeno and recently acquired pitcher Garrett Olson to the Seattle Mariners today for reliever Aaron Heilman. The Cubs had just acquired Olson from the Baltimore Orioles a few weeks ago in exchange for Felix Pie, and many thought the move was done in order to re-open discussions with the San Diego Padres for starter Jake Peavy (Padres GM Kevin Towers had indicated that Olson was a player highly touted by his organization). Similarly, the Mariners had just acquired Heilman in a deal that sent J.J. Putz to the New York Mets. Heilman was looking forward to competing for a starting rotation spot with the Mariners this Spring Training, but now his future is up in the air again with the deep Chicago Cubs pitching staff.

Heilman is an Indiana native who grew up a Cubs fan and who now lives in Chicago permanently during the off-season. After being informed of the trade, Heilman was quoted as saying “It’s a dream come true. I always rooted for the Cubs growing up, and now to be a part of that organization, it’s going to be pretty special for me.” The New York Mets drafted Heilman as a first round draft pick in 2001 and pitched for the Mets as a starter from 2003 through 2204. The Mets moved Heilman to the bullpen in 2005 and he has pitched there ever since. His best year as a reliever was 2007 when he made 81 appearances – the 5th most in the NL that year – and amassed a spectacular 3.03 ERA as a set-up man. He issued only 20 walks and gave up only 8 home runs in 86 innings that season. The 2008 MLB campaign, however, was a major disappointment. Heilman still pitched out of the bullpen, but his ERA rose to 5.21 and he issued 46 walks and gave up 10 home runs in 76 innings. Heilman expressed some frustration that the Mets did not want to use him as a starter, and the Mets made the move to trade Heilman as part of the deal that brought Putz to the Big Apple.

Heilman is a power pitcher, and if he can re-master his changeup that was so effective in 2007, the Cubs could use him as their 5th starter in 2009. He will have some competition with Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija, but he may have the edge over both players. Marshall is a lefty, and if he stayed in the bullpen, he would be a 2nd lefty for Manager Lou Pinella to call on along with Neal Cotts. Samardzija has only 3 months of major league experience under his belt. The Cubs have indicated that they will likely keep him in the bullpen until he can add another pitch or 2 to his repertoire in order to keep batters off-guard as a starter. Plus, the Cubs have experienced recent success with moving a reliever back into his original starting role – see Ryan Dempster during the 2008 MLB season who was the Cubs most consistent starting pitcher with a 17-6 record, over 200 innings pitched, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 187 strikeouts.

Where will this all lead? Right now, it is all just a big mess – in a good way. The Cubs have a ton of pitching talent, and competition during Spring Training should be fierce. If Harden isn’t ready to go right away with his right shoulder issue, or if Harden spends time on the disabled list during the season, the depth will factor in the Cubs favor by being able to move a Marshall or a Heilman out of the bullpen into the starting rotation. Will the Cubs still attempt another shot at landing Peavy from the Padres. They would be foolish not to, but with today’s trade of Olson and Cedeno, it’s unclear who the Cubs will deal in order to make the trade happen this time around.

Stay tuned. If the last month is any indication, we are sure to see a few more moves up Hendry’s sleeve before the 2009 Cubs opening day roster is announced…

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