When you sign a three-year, $27 million deal to serve as a team’s closer you tend to get plenty of chances and not surprisingly Ozzie Guillen is ready to give Heath Bell another crack at the Marlins’ closer role.
Bell hasn’t gotten a save opportunity since coughing up three runs to blow a game against the Cardinals on July 8, at which point he was 19-for-25 converting saves with a 6.75 ERA and 32/20 K/BB ratio in 35 innings.
Since then Bell has logged 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, throwing a total of nine innings with an 8/3 K/BB ratio and .107 opponents’ batting average.
“That was his job,” Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do and we made that decision. Right now, I think he’s pitched good enough to get back to the closer role.”
Fill-in close Steve Cishek has pitched plenty well all season with a 1.74 ERA in 47 innings, but this isn’t really about Cishek. It’s about Bell, Bell’s contract, and the fact that the Marlins owe him another $20 million or so through 2014.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.