Thursday, December 19, 2013

Player Profile: Heath Bell

I have one card of Heath Bell. This one is from 2010 Upper Deck.

Playing career: Heath Bell was a mediocre middle reliever for the Mets and Padres from 2003 to 2008. After the 2008 season, Bell lost 25 pounds playing Wii Fit and became one of the league’s leading closers, saving over 40 games with ERAs under 3 for three straight seasons, leading the National League with 42 in 2009. However, Bell’s success may have been inflated by the pitcher-friendly Petco Park and the low pressure of playing in San Diego. He signed a big free agent contract with the Marlins for 2012 but had a terrible season, posting an ERA of 5.09 and losing his closer role. Bell whined about manager Ozzie Guillen removing him from the closer role (despite Guillen’s support of the pitcher through difficulties earlier in the season) and whined that fans were picking on him instead of his teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes. "The funny thing is they never really talked about Giancarlo," Bell said to Fox Sports Florida. "He had a horrible April. They never talked about Jose the full season. He struggled (early).” Way to throw your teammates under the bus, Heath. Part of being a closer is that your struggles are magnified, especially compared to those of a position player. 

Where he is now: He was traded to the Diamondbacks for the 2013 season, and took over as closer when J.J. Putz got hurt. His numbers were better than what he did for Miami but nowhere near his San Diego numbers – 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA. He was traded to the Rays earlier this month.

My memories: He pitched 81 games for the Mets over three seasons, but living in New York I never heard of him until he became a star for the Padres. He always seemed to be perennial trade bait but the Padres never pulled the trigger.

Interesting facts: In September he sued an agent with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, claiming that he was given insufficient advice and was rushed into signing paperwork. Seems like in general he is a guy who tries to blame others for his mistakes beyond just in baseball. He should know better than to sign something without looking at it first.

His cousin Drake Bell is the star of Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh. 

Google Autocomplete results: He is second when you type Heath B, between Heath Bar and Heath Bar Cake, both of which refer to a candy. There do not appear to be any other prominent Heath Bells.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Jay Bell.

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