Sep 28, 2014

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Heath Bell (2004-2006)

Heath Justin Bell was Born September 29, 1977 in Oceanside, California. The tall right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1998. Bell was a lifelong reliever saving over 20 games twice at the A ball level, then saving 16 games twice at the AAA level.

He was brought up first in August 2004, making his debut on August 24th pitching two innings at home against the San Diego Padres. On September 3rd he gave up HRs to Jason Michaels & Pat Burrell, taking a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 17 appearances he was 0-2 with a 3.33 ERA.

In 2005 he remained with the club most of the season appearing in 42 games, getting credit for four holds. On May 11th he served up a walk off HR to Derek Bell at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He was soon 0-3 then won his only Mets decision on July 7th in Washington D.C. against the Nationals. On the year he was 1-3 with a 5.59 ERA.

In 2006 he began the year at AAA Norfolk & had 12 saves with 1.29 ERA, getting brought up to the Mets in May & again later in September. He was mostly used in mop up situations, in 22 games Bell posted no record with a 5.11 ERA in 37 innings of work.

In November of 2006, the Mets had come off an Eastern Divisional title & General Manager Omar Minaya began to make a few bad decisions. One of them was trading away Heath Bell, along with Royce Ring to the San Diego Padres for Ben Johnson & Jon Adkins.

Bell spent his first two seasons as the set up man for the Padres Trevor Hoffman. In 2007 he posted a 2.02 ERA with 34 holds, posting a 6-4 record in 81 games. In 2009 he took over as Hoffman's successor in San Diego as the teams closer. Bell became one of the National League's top closers & was outspoken about how the Mets had no patience in waiting for him to develop.

He came to the Opening Day of Citi Field in 2009 and after receiving a large round of boo’s during the introductions, closed out the game with a save for the Padres. Bell went on to win the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award, saving a league leading 42 games with a 6-4 record & a 2.71 ERA.

In 2010 he may have been even better, posting 47 saves with a 5-0 record and a 1.93 ERA for a first place NL Western Division Champion Padres team. From May 29th through May 3rd the following seasons he converted 41 consecutive saves tying a Padre record set by Trevor Hoffamn. In his next game, he was credited with a blown save when infielder Chase Headly made a throwing error leading to two runs & ruining a bid for the 42nd consecutive save.

That year Bell made the All Star team, came in 8th in the Cy Young voting & even received votes for the MVP Award. In 2011 he had 43 saves (4th in the NL) as the Padres dropped off to a last place finish.

In 2012 he signed on with the Miami Marlins ready to play in the new Marlins Stadium in South Florida. Bell was terrible in his Miami debut, by May he had already blown four saves with an ERA over ten.

In May he got back on track saving seven games going 2-0, but his ERA was still at 7.20.

By July he was reduced to being the set up man for Steve Cishek who woul save 15 games. Bell ended the year at 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA saving 19 games.

Drama: In September he had told a Florida Radio station "its been an interesting year with Ozzie, That's about all I have to say about it".

Manager Ozzie Guillen shuted back saying he had no respect for Bell as a person. Gillen had his own troubles all year in Florida from the start, most notable when he said he liked Fidel Castro, much to the dismay of many Cuban/Americans in South Florida.

Guillen also fought with other players & the teams owner. Bell said his comments were taken out of text & refused any further interviews with the media.

In October 2012, the Marlins parted ways with Bell. He was part of a three team trade that sent him to the Arizona D-backs. It was the same deal that sent Chris Young to Oakland.

In 2013 for Arizona, he led the team, with 15 saves, three ahead of Brad Ziegler. He went 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA, striking out 72 batters, walking 16 in 65 innings pitched, in 69 appearances.

In December of 2013, Bell was traded again, this time in another big three team deal involving The Tampa Rays & Cincinnati Reds. Bell landed in Tampa. After a terrible start he posted an ERA over seven & was released. 

He was signed & released by the Baltimore Orioles & the AL New York club as well. In his eleven year career he is 38-32 with 168 saves in 590 appearances. He struck out 637 batters & walked 214 in 628 innings.

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