02 December 2011
With the future of Juan Carlos Oviedo up in the air, the Marlins entered the off season looking for a closer for 2012 and they found him and made their first big move of the off season by acquiring closer Heath Bell. The is reportedly three years at $9 million per year ($27 million total) with an option for a fourth year. Bell is someone who the Marlins have been interested in for a number of years and had a chance to get him at the trade deadline a few years ago from the Padres, but decided to not to pull the trigger on a deal that would have sent Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin to San Diego in return.
Some people are criticising the Marlins for over spending at a position that the Marlins have demonstrated over and over again that you can just plug in someone and get solid results. The Marlins have had success in the past with guys like Brandon Looper, Ugueth Urbina, Armando Benitez, Todd Jones, Joe Borowski, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, and Leo Nunez. And their is also criticism that the Marlins are buying into a player that is older and on the decline. Their is some truth to that in that Bell has just turned 34 and his strike out per nine innings ratio has dropped the previous two season. However Bell's WHIP and ERA are both still strong is the only play in baseball with a minimum of 40 saves in each of the past three season, and it is important to point out that the Padres were one of the worst teams in baseball two of those three years.
Some people have compared this signing to that of John Buck, but that is not the case at all. I said prior to last year that I was not a fan of Buck and the Marlins were over paying for a player coming off a career year. That is not the case with Bell. Heath Bell has been one of the top closers in the majors the past three years and overall his numbers have not fluctuate all that much, all though their is some difference between his home and away numbers. Even with those home/road disparities, Bell was still a better than average closer on the road.
I believe this to be a good move for the Marlins. While this is not a move that will automatically launch the Marlins into the playoffs, combined with one or two other key additions it could be a move to put the fish over the top. Also, yes, every year you do see teams have a closer that comes from no where to get 40+ saves in a season, but at the same time you also have teams that try to plug in just an average closer and it turns out to be disastrous. Bell is a player who will be a solid closer and someone who the team will really not need to worry about for at least two of the three years of this contract. Bell is also a player who has some personality and it will not take long for him to become a fan favorite.
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