Arizona Diamondbacks Take a Chance with Heath Bell

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IOctober 21, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 21:  Relief pitcher Heath Bell #21 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on August 21, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired Miami Marlins closer Heath Bell, one of the biggest free-agent busts of recent years.

On the surface, the Diamondbacks have relieved a huge load off the Marlins' shoulders by taking eight of the remaining  $21 million left on Bell's contract, as reported by Peter Barzilai of USA Today Sports.

Bell had a well documented horrible season. He lost his closer role several times and posted an ERA over 5.00. He also clashed with manager Ozzie Guillen and his catcher John Buck, according to Sun Sentinel reporter Juan C Rodriguez.

Why would Arizona do this? Even with more than a third of the salary picked up by Miami, does it make sense? 

There could be hope for Bell, however. He was a terrific reliever right up until last season, and maybe he was trying to hard to justify his big deal.

He was much better in the second half of the season. Granted, the standard which he was being compared was pretty low. He pitched to a 6.75 ERA over 34.2 first half innings, then compiled a 3.10 ERA over 29 second-half innings. His WHIP was down and his strikeout to walk ratio improved.

He is being reunited with Kevin Towers, his former Padres general manager, who now runs the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to the Associated Press through Sports Illustrated, Towers believes that Bell helps the Diamondbacks form "as good a bullpen as there is if not in the National League but in baseball."

Indeed if Bell, J. J. Putz, Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez all pitch well, then the Diamondbacks will have a deep pen. However, other than Hernandez, every one of them is in their mid 30s, which is beyond risky for a bullpen.

But it could be a risk worth taking.

Either way, Bell is bound to be an improvement from his dreadful 2012 campaign.