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Trade Heath Bell, please

July 23rd, 2009 by Ray

Is there a more pointless role in baseball than that of closer on an awful team?

Heath Bell is having a fantastic season, despite his predictable All-Star loss. His 1.64 ERA has helped make the transition out of the Trevor Hoffman era as painless as possible. And he’s a pretty entertaining guy, what with all the antics. But on this team, it just doesn’t make sense to hang onto him.

This is all going off of the assumption that there is a market for Heath Bell, which isn’t a given. It just seems likely. And if it is the case, this team has to follow through. Over the weekend, former stud Cla Meredith was traded to Baltimore for Oscar Salazar, a bench player. What made this trade possible was the success of the bullpen around Meredith. Along with Bell, the Padres have gotten a lot out of what seemed like a ragtag group. Edward Mujica, picked up after Cleveland dumped him earlier this year, and Luke Gregerson, the PTBNL in the Khalil Greene trade, have been leading the non-Heath Bell charge. And they’re getting help from Mike Adams and Luis Perdomo. This isn’t to say that the bullpen is perfect, because it’s not. Nor is it ranked near the top. But it might just be good enough for an awful team.

But that’s just why the door is open. That Heath Bell will turn 32-years-old in a couple of months and is headed for arbitration after the season is why Kevin Towers should walk through it. To avoid arbitration last year, the Padres gave the then set-up man $1.25 million. You have to imagine, one of the best closers in baseball is going to want a bit more than that. And last time I checked, this team still doesn’t have any money.

There are nine days left till the trade deadline, and the beginning of Towers’ precious August when the “better deals” are always available. Scott Hairston and Cla Meredith made the move elsewhere, and certainly they won’t be the only ones. But with Jake Peavy on the DL, and Adrian Gonzalez all-but-untouchable, the team is strapped for juicy bait. And instead of messing around with a Kevin Correia trade (who’s a player and I’d actually like to hang onto), this team needs to start doing a real job of accumulating talent. And that starts with trading Heath Bell.

Posted in hot stove | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Trade Heath Bell, please”

  1. william says:

    concur.
    course, I have been saying this for a while now.

  2. Glenn Rice says:

    You gotta think the Rays would be making some kind of move for him to keep up with the rest of the closers in the AL East; and there’s some real good depth in their farm system.

    What do you think Heath is worth? Two grade B prospects?

    • I’d put Heath’s value around that JJ Putz. They’re about the same age, Putz has more experience as a closer but Bell has more recent success.

  3. Jacob says:

    It’s funny that 3 out of the last AS-Game L’s have been attributed to a Padres pitcher.

  4. Lorenzo says:

    I disagree. The problem with the Padres is too many inexperienced kids. Why trade experience for more inexperienced kids? I don’t care how much “potential” or “upside” they have, putting out an all-rookie team is a prescription for a perpetual doormat. The kids will only learn from experienced veterans who know how to play the game. At the major league level there’s no substitute for experience, and the Padres would do better to hold onto the experience they have and add to it, reducing the kids to a few who are ready. The rest belong in the minors.

  5. Lorenzo says:

    Melvin, 3:04 AM? Have you tried melatonin plus to reset your sleep patterns?

    Anyway, I don’t see any rookies/second year players on the Padres having monster years. Cabrera is doing nicely, but he’s still learning. I was thinking of mid-level veterans who have a few years left, not a 38 year old Giles or 37 year old Blanco. There’s the injury factor, but even the veterans (who aren’t hurt) are largely 30 and under. The Padres went from fire sale in ’94 to 91 wins two years later, and they did it by adding Finley and Caminiti, Wally Joyner, Ricky Henderson, Valenzuela, Flaherty and Gomez, etc. It’s hard to tell if there’s a good mix of veterans with the injuries the last two years, but that’s another reason not to write off the next 3-4 years waiting for kids to develop.

    • Ray Lankford says:

      While you make a valid point, how influential will Bell be spending all of his time in the bullpen while only coming in a couple of times a week?

    • re: my sleeping patterns

      I’m willing to try anything.

    • “Anyway, I don’t see any rookies/second year players on the Padres having monster years.”

      Well, yes, but nobody ever said Nick Hundley or Will Venable have a ton of upside either.

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