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.