Diamond in the Rough
Once again, you hate to compare established major league stars with minor league players, especially middle relievers. However, I like many people, am high on Heath Bell. Bell has good stuff and showed some positive things in his short stint at the end of last season despite some problems with the long ball. He throws hard and he has the ability to strike people out while showing good control. He's been a journey man of sorts spending seven seasons in the minor leagues before getting his taste of major league experience in 2004. Many people believe that relievers just happen. You may not expect much out of someone, then they emerge as solid relievers after floating around for a while. Guys like David Weathers, Brendan Donelly, Ben Weber, Guillermo Mota, Mike Timlin, and Tim Worrell do not become relevant until they are turning 30 or even in their mid 30's in some cases.
I chose Donnelly because he is probably one of the bigger underdog success stories despite putting up solid minor league numbers. He never cracked the majors until after 11 seasons in the minor leagues. Heath Bell could be a big part of the bullpen in 2005 in the way Donnelly quickly became a vital portion of the Angels bullpen. Donnelly had only posted a lower ERA than what he put up in his first two seasons in the majors in 1995 when he was in A ball for Cincinnati. The previous season before he broke into the majors, he had a 3.48 ERA at AAA and followed that up with 2.17 and 1.58 in his first two major league seasons. Heath Bell arguably had better minor league numbers out of the two as well. Am I suggesting that Heath Bell will become one of the best relievers in the major league? Absolutely not, but I am saying he has a good chance to be a solid major league reliever with the possibility of him becoming a very good major league reliever. Donnelly's K/9 increased in the majors while his W/9 and H/9 decreased in the majors. In Bell's short time in the majors, everything remained just about identical. He has posted strong peripherals and they are pretty much in line with what anyone would like see as player progresses through the minor leagues. Even when he had moved up, he has basically maintained similar numbers. I know I'm not alone, but I think Heath Bell can emerge as a key component to this bullpen in 2005 and based on his past performance, his major league numbers in 2004 were not out of line with what we can expect in the future and not a lucky month of September.
"Instead of going to a contender and making it easy, I'd like to build something here," Huff said Monday. "I really would. That's special. I could only imagine, watching the playoffs last year, watching the Red Sox come back like that, that was awesome.
"Just to see if that could happen here, and be a part of that knowing we went from being basically a joke to doing something like that would be a great feeling, a great accomplishment."
I can appreciate that and I think the Devil Rays will be good for few years after these young guys mature, but unless they decide to actually put their payroll over $30 million, a championship or sustained success will be damn near impossible. Aubrey, run for the hills..or Shea, whatever you get to first.
Negotiations between the Angels and Jered Weaver, the former Cal State Long Beach pitcher whom the Angels selected in the first round of last June's draft, appear to be heating up. "We're close, and I'm optimistic we'll get something done soon," Weaver told the Long Beach Press-Telegram Sunday. "I've been anxious to get going."
"I hope in my seven years here that we can get five."
Way to keep things realistic.
"We're the new Mets," Beltran said. "We're going in a new direction."
I think they should go in the new direction of not collectively using new in every interview.
Pedro Martinez smiled and waved to fans who cheered him as he walked toward the clubhouse from his car yesterday morning. But when one aggressive heckler blurted, "Who's your daddy," Martinez wasn't amused and grabbed his crotch.
Nice touch with the crotch grab. Very New Mets of him. In the past they'd have done nothing.