The Miami Marlins lost a game yesterday that should have been one of the great highlights of their season. Down 9-2 going into the seventh, the Marlins stormed back and took the lead in the 10th inning.
But the Marlins' great comeback was not the story. The story was Aramis Ramirez crushing a two-out, come-from-behind walk-off home run against Heath Bell. Instead of the game being about the Marlins turning their season around with an improbable win, the topic once again is "How awful is Heath Bell?"
The Marlins brought in Bell from San Diego this offseason, and in one of my previous Bleacher Report articles, I made the case that the Padres dodged a huge bullet when they let Bell go.
Closers have a very short shelf life. Just today, Bobby Jenks and Brian Fuentes were cut loose from their teams. Both were All Stars in the late 2000s. Now they are out of work.
Bell signed with the Marlins for three years, and now, baseball fans in Miami are counting down the days until it expires. He has been nothing short of horrible for the Marlins; this was his fifth blown save of the season and his 6.39 ERA is startling.
A loss like this must be a bitter pill for the team. They could have not only won an improbable game, but they would have raised the their record to 39-41, creeping closer to .500. And with the Phillies evidently waving the white flag for the season, the Marlins are a modest win streak away from contention.
Instead, Bell demonstrated that not all innings are created equal and the final three outs are the toughest in the game.
Something is clearly off for Bell. In an interview in UTSanDiego.com, Bell blamed missing his family as a big reason why he is having an off year. The man signed a $27 million contract. Perhaps he can afford to rent a place for them in Miami.
The Marlins cannot undo the Bell deal. It is signed and they will pay him the entire amount. But that does not mean he has to torpedo the team's season. The Marlins had high expectations for 2012, a critical year in the franchise's history. They have a new name, a new ballpark, new stars, a new manager and a new ugly statue in left center field. And with the Phillies' dynasty finally coming to an end, the Marlins have half a season to make a run.
But it is tough to go on a winning streak when the person whose job it is to get the final outs is likely to let up a run in two out of every three innings he pitches.
So the Marlins should not have him close. Have him come in for middle relief of mop-up work. He has proven more than once that he is not up for it this season. Let's learn from the lesson that he keeps teaching us over and over again.
Ozzie Guillen should give the ball to Steve Cishek or Edward Mujica in the ninth. Maybe a young pitcher without a big scouting report should close out ballgames. Perhaps Sandy Rosario would fit that description.
Bobby Jenks is available. All he did for Ozzie Guillen was clinch the World Series. How could he be worse than Bell?
Bell as a mop-up man might sound like a waste of money, but it is less of a waste than flushing the promise of 2012 down the toilet in Miami.
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