There are many things fans can discuss about the 2012 Miami Marlins season. One thing that is difficult to discuss without getting furious is the performance of embattled former closer Heath Bell, who received a large contract before the start of the 2012 season, proceeded to have a horrific April and first half, then has settled into a relative groove over the course of the rest of the year.
If that were just the case, fans would perhaps be a little more amenable to Bell's situation. He would be just like any other struggling player who was looking to get back on track, albeit at a position that receives among the greatest amount of scrutiny from fans. But Bell has also been a bit of a loudmouth for most of the season, and that has not endeared him any more to the Miami Marlins fan base. When asked about his early-season struggles, he laughed them off and brushed those struggles aside as rudely as the radio announcers teased him about said struggles. When manager Ozzie Guillen questioned his pitch selection, he complained to the media about it. When Guillen pulled him out of an inning before the final out, Bell had a "misunderstanding" with the manager in the dugout.
So needless to say, these two have not gotten along well, and certainly Bell has not made himself to be a likable character to the fans and media either. So when Bell said the following about Guillen in a radio interview yesterday, it should not have surprised anyone.
"It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face,’’ Bell said Monday during an interview on The Dan Sileo Show on 560 WQAM in Miami.
"There’s probably reasons why. It’s probably one of those things, like you said, if I said something or I did something, I’m going to own up to it. What you see is what you get.’’
"We need a guy that leads us that everybody respects and looks up to," Bell said. "That’s what we need."
The words themselves are not surprising, and there is something to be said about the apparent lack of defense of Guillen this season as his job is on the line (more on that a little later). But here, I am not addressing Guillen's job status (there was plenty of that discussion yesterday). Here, I am interested in talking about Heath Bell.
Yes, Heath Bell has been better in this second half. Yes, he probably deserves a shot at the closer job next season. But the team could use some relative media quiet and fewer distractions amid the firestorm about the jobs of Guillen and the front office. And Bell, who has not been good overall this season, is the last person who should be throwing others under the bus. This is especially true with regards to Guillen, who stuck with Bell when he had few supporters left.
Guillen Remained Loyal
Guillen seemed to be almost the last person to lose confidence in Bell as his struggles continued from a horrid April to a better May and a poor June. While Bell failed to earn the trust of Marlins fans everywhere with his struggles, Ozzie Guillen continued to support him through his problems. Repeatedly, Guillen mentioned that the Marlins "were a better team with Bell as the closer" despite Bell's problems. No one was impressed with Bell's massive struggles and the Marlins had to be concerned about their investment. But Guillen stuck with him all the way through the first half, and we even mentioned how loyal and protective Guillen has been of his players in a previous article.
So of all the parties on the Marlins, the last person Bell should be berating and throwing under a bus is Guillen, especially for supposedly being dishonest. Guillen kept him in his job for as long as he possibly could without receiving a massive public backlash, yet Bell's response to that is to bury that person in a radio interview. With fans still angry at his season performance, should Bell really continue to act out publicly along with alienating more members of the clubhouse?
Deserving of a Job?
Bell seems to be more than ready to compete for a closer's job, and he insinuated that, despite a good second half, Guillen has not allowed him the opportunity to earn back his role. Never mind the fact that Guillen gave Bell a save opportunity and saw him blow it a few weeks ago. Even discounting that, Bell has been significantly better in the second half, and his numbers would indeed challenge current closer Steve Cishek's numbers.
|Pitcher, Second Half||IP||K%||BB%||ERA||FIP|
|Steve Cishek||22 1/3||25.8||10.3||4.03||2.47|
These are comparable numbers between the two players in a very small 20 or so innings. Sure, by these numbers, you could say that Bell has earned an opportunity to try and win back his closer's role. And the Marlins should not be against that option when they make the decision over the offseason. After all, as bad as Bell has been this year, Cishek has struggled in the second half and has seen his share of problems versus lefties.
But Bell simply does not "deserve" shots at the closer job after failing spectacularly in the first half, as if he is entitled to get the occasional save opportunity. The Marlins can easily reconsider the situation in the offseason, and while trying him in a couple of opportunities would not be a bad idea this late in a meaningless regular season, Guillen and the Marlins have no reason to do it if they do not feel like it.
Bell signed a deal with the organization, and while he may not be in the role he envisioned, the Marlins have no reason to hold him back if they did not feel he was capable of outright winning the job over a successful Cishek. Right now, Bell is at best even with Cishek, and the team has no strong reason to change the current status quo. And with the way that he has spoken about members of the organization such as Guillen, there is no reason for the team to award him any role.