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Sunday Rockpile: Heilman or Cordero as Plan B?

Troy Renck and I differ a little in our prescription for the Rockies bullpen circa 2009. We both see the loss of Brian Fuentes as pretty damaging even in spite of performances like last night. The fact of the matter is that though Fuentes isn't a great pitcher, and at times that fact is pretty apparent, he is a good, fairly consistent reliever, and for some reason those are more difficult to replace than one would suspect given the typical step down in ability from the rotation to the pen. Renck and I agree that a replacement for what Fuentes brings won't come internally until at least midseason. We disagree in our view on how to fill that need externally. Renck suggests two options in today's piece: Aaron Heilman or Chad Cordero. Heilman would be obtained relatively cheaply via trade, Cordero is more of a wild card due to injury, but I'm sketchy about both. According to Johns Hopkins,  pitchers should expect nine months to a year recovery time for labrum surgery. Given that Cordero had his at the beginning of July, the average nine month recovery would be pushing in on Opening Day 2009 as is.What if his recovery takes longer? Plus, it's not atypical for pitchers to have somewhat of a lost season their first year back off a surgery like this as they regain strength. All of this points to a very high unlikelihood that Cordero would be able to provide what Renck's looking for.

Heilman's in a different boat in that his season has been somewhat inexplicable in its decline. He hasn't lost velocity, in fact, according to FanGraphs he's actually gained a mile on his pitches this year with a 93.4 MPH heater on average. Actually, looking at it, he seems to be suffering more from bad luck than anything else, a higher BABIP than normal for him could just be stemming from a higher linedrive rate, and a few more homers has his surface numbers disappointing. Wait a minute. I thought I'd be arguing against this. Never mind. Cordero no, but Heilman's a good idea Troy.