Thursday 1 December 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls?

Heath Bell, being a douche.  Could he become our douche?
Ugh, don't get me started on this one.  MLBTR, via Ken Rosenthal, reports that the Jays are favorites to land Heath Bell this offseason.  Now, clearly, we're not going to exaggerate about this one, since the Jays are supposedly always the favorites to land everybody since nobody within the organization talks to the media, so there's a natural story to be made up around every corner, but I think we still need to comment on it, if only to touch base.

This is the part where I tell you why I don't want this to happen.

  • Bell is probably going to cost somewhere around $8MM a season, and will pitch 50-60 innings a year if he remains healthy and effective. IF.
  • He's going to be 35 years old at the beginning of the 2012 season.  That's old for baseball.
  • He's been effective for the last several years, but has also done so in the pitcher friendly NL West, and more importantly, playing most of his games at uber-friendly Petco park, making a 91 point OPS difference between home and away over his career (though last year he was better on the road, albeit over an expectantly small sample).  There is a massive difference between the NL West and the AL East.
  • There are better, younger closers out there.  If you're going to spend $8MM for Bell, why not just spend the $10MM for Madson?
Signing Bell certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, but we've seen first hand what the AL East does to imported closers; Jon Rauch was pretty effective throughout his whole career up until this year, and then put up an incredibly useless season in 2011.  I'm not saying that Bell and Rauch are the same pitcher or anything, but I really don't think that it's worth it to go sign Bell for multiple years when there are many other options to fill out the bullpen; options that don't have inflated values simply because they have a "closer" label attached to their names.  I'm talking about cheaper free agents, better free agents, trade candidates, and internal options who should probably make up the entire bullpen, especially now that a high majority of relief pitchers aren't going to be worth compensation picks at the end of the year.

The whole point of overpaying slightly for Dotel and Rauch last year was the fact that they could be turned in to something, either by trade, or by having them become draft picks.  Bell won't do that.  The system restricts it, he's not good enough, and he's too fucking old.

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