Jamal has been a writer for Bleacher Report since 2010 focused strictly on the Rays. He has had his work featured on websites such as Forbes, USA Today, CBS Sports, Houston Chronicle and the LA Times. Jamal is a special correspondent for 620wdae.com covering the Tampa Bay Rays.
Heath Bell is well past his shelf life.
The 36-year-old reliever was designated for assignment following Saturday’s game after making 13 appearances for the team this season.
The problem is Bell is continuing to regress with no signs of improvement. He is far from the All-Star closer he was for the San Diego Padres from 2009-2011. In that three-year span he saved an average of 46 games per season.
Part of what made Bell an All-Star reliever was his ability to enter games and prevent runners on base from scoring. From 2009 – 2011 he allowed only 6% of inherited runners scored. Since then he has allowed 35% of inherited runners to score.
He has also started hitting more batters than recently
Over the first 553 games of his career (2004 – July 2013) Bell hit a total of nine batters. In his last 37 appearances (August 2013 – present) alone he has hit seven batters.
In 17.1 innings pitched, Bell’s 7.27 ERA was the worst of any pitcher on the Rays roster (min. 10 IP).
That is not the level of performance that is expected from a player that is being paid $5.5 million by the team with a $9 million option that would have been guaranteed if he finished 55 games in 2014.
Acquiring Bell was not a bad move by the Rays. He was a part of the three-team trade that also brought in catcher Ryan Hanigan. If Hanigan continues to be an upgrade at the catcher position the money spent on Bell could easily be a wash. Also, with the Rays history of refurbishing late-inning relievers, it was certainly a chance worth taking for the team.
It’s a shame players do not come with expiration dates like groceries. If so, Bell would have been stamped with “Best if used by 2011.”
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Photo: Getty Images