Thursday, March 15, 2012

Batista taking on a Roberto Hernandez role...

Photo by Michael Baron 
Entering the 2006 season Aaron Heilman, despite wanting to be a starter felt he was prepared for his role as a late inning reliever thanks, in part due to the mentor-ship of Roberto Hernandez.

Heilman said he would be even better prepared in 2006 for bullpen work, which he had not regularly done since closing early in his Notre Dame career. He praised former teammates Braden Looper and Roberto Hernandez for offering tips. "With the experience I got last year, and the help I got from Roberto and Braden especially - they really helped me figure out what I needed to do to get ready on a daily basis - it's definitely a spot where I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year or the year before," Heilman said. "If that is the case, at least I won't be going into it kind of cold." source NY Daily News

In 2005 Hernandez was a 40 y/o former closer who was five years removed from his elite days and came to camp on a minor league invite.  He went on to have quite a renaissance, posting a 2.58 ERA in 67 innings.

But many remember Bert more for the impact he had on Heilman then the good year he had on a bad team.  Prior to 2005 Heilman was struggling in the majors as a starter, posting a 6.18 ERA in 18 starts.  In 2005 his ERA was 3.17 in 53 games, 20 GF, 4 saves and seven starts.

Heilman credited Hernandez with helping him make the transition to the pen, but in 2006 the Mets decided to not offer the veteran arbitration and he ended up signing with Pittsburgh.  Heilman would struggle the first half of 2006 posting a 4.35 ERA in 39 games and losing the set-up to Duaner Sanchez.

When Sanchez went down to a shoulder injury after the now infamous taxi cab accident, the Mets quickly traded for Roberto.  Many said the trade for Bert had as much to do with his pitching as it did his impact on Heilman, Bert posted a 3.28 ERA in 22 games after returning and Heilman became the primary set-up man dropping his ERA to 2.65 in the second half.

It seems that Miguel Batista is closing in on a spot in the bullpen, the 41 y/o veteran is in camp on a minor league deal, a deal he earned after posting a 2.64 ERA in nine games after being cut by the Cards mid-season.  It's true Batista provides versatility, in 2005 he earned 31 saves as the Jays closer and turned around in 2007 to win 16 games as a starter in Seattle.

I'm not sure what the Mets are expecting from Miguel on the mound, but it seems that his inclusion on the staff is for the similar impact Hernandez had in 2005.  Batista is being mentioned regarding his value as a veteran leader and young pitchers are singing his praise as Aaron Heilman once did of his veteran mentor...

Batista allowed two runs in one inning against Washington Saturday (one scored on a wild pitch), but the officials stressed how impressed the Mets have been with his versatility and leadership. 
“He could be almost like Johan (Santana) in that way,” said one, referring to the 41-year-old’s mentoring abilities. source NY Daily News

Familia said he appreciated the experience, and especially the tutelage from 41-year-old Miguel Batista. "I threw with him every day and did my stuff with him," Familia said. "He taught me how to finish my changeup, my slider, my fastball." source ESPN NY

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