Cubs Get Something for Heilman

Aaron Heilman joined his fourth organization in the last 12 months tonight. Last year Heilman was part of a three-way deal that landed him in Seattle. Prior to the start of the regular season, he was shipped to the Cubs, and today he avoided being non-tendered and was instead sent to Arizona.

Heilman pitched in 70+ innings for the fifth consecutive season. He did a nice job putting an uncharacteristic 2008 season behind him. His FIPs over the past three years have been 3.86, 4.91, and 4.37, with the final two seasons coming with HR/FB higher than Heilman’s career average. He’s a slight groundball pitcher who uses a low-90s fastball, slider, and change effectively. Heilman has experience as a set-up man and the Diamondbacks seem likely to use him in the bullpen.

The return for the Cubs are a pair of minor leaguers.

Scott Maine is a stout lefty with impressive strikeout rates out of the bullpen. He’s 24-years-old and was drafted out of the university of Miami in 2007. Maine throws from a low arm slot and has a fastball that breaks into the low-90s as well as a slurve. The mandatory Tommy John surgery is out of the way and it’ll be interesting to see if deception is the key for Maine or if his stuff can hold up in the higher minors.

Ryne White is a short left-handed first baseman drafted in 2008 from Purdue. He’s shown the propensity to draw a walk but flashes few other skills despite a supposedly quick bat. He played some outfield in college and, given his height, there’s a chance he could return there sometime in the future.

Considering Heilman was on his way out for nothing, it’s hard to say the Cubs lose out on this deal. Maine might be a useful relief arm sooner than later, and who knows what the future holds for White. Obviously this isn’t an ideal situation, but at least they didn’t pay a marginal reliever seven million dollars today. As for Arizona, I’m not sure giving up anything of value for a middle reliever is a good play, especially given Arizona’s placement on the win curve.

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6 Responses to “Cubs Get Something for Heilman”

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  1. Choo says:

    Good for Lou Piniella. Not since June 4th, 2002, when he sobbingly carried that miniature Australian version of himself off the field, has Piniella had a squatty, quick-batted underdog to love and cherish. I just hope Ryne White is up to the task. He looks a bit too McAnulty for Sweet Lou’s taste.

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  2. odbsol says:

    The stats may say that Heilman pitched well but his strand rate and LOB % both might indicate otherwise. He had good stuff when wasn’t trying to nibble on every pitch but he still walked too many for a 7th/8th inning guy. As a Cub fan, I have to say good riddance and nice job getting more than some fungos for him.

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  3. John says:

    Agreed. He seems to be almost universally disliked on BleedCubbieBlue.

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    • MPC says:

      I don’t typically hold grudges against players, but after Game 7 in 2006, just hearing “Heilman” upsets me. Yadier f’ing Molina

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  4. Tim Kelly says:

    Heilman is one of those guys whose mere appearance does not inspire confidence. I know we’re “not selling jeans here” but that guy always just looked incompetent. We called him Nibbles…

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  5. China Brown says:

    I shed no tears upon hearing the Cubs traded Heilman. He is an irritating pitcher to watch.

    “What’s that you say? Bring me in with 2 on and nobody out? Absolutely, please allow me to throw 10 straight balls – a catcher visit and a pitching coach visit – before yielding a 2 run single, then finally getting my act together and getting out of it with 0 of my own ER.” 46% of his inherited runners scored in ’09. 46%!

    What I find most interesting about Heilman is that his slider hibernated from ’05 – ’07, which coincides with his 3 best seasons as a pro. In ’08, it reappeared, and his FIP was the big loser.

    The slider seemed to come at the expense of his changeup. While his slider has proven to be a valuable pitch, the lack of a changeup seems to have turned his fastball into a steamy pile of dung (-7.7 and -2.2 runs in ’08 and ’09). That (to my untrained eye) has made him a pretty mediocre pitcher.

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