Tag:Heath Bell
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:07 pm
 

Pujols veering toward Cardinals?

DALLAS -- Even as the Marlins formally introduced Jose Reyes at a midday press conference here Wednesday, Albert Pujols shadowed them like an unrealized fantasy.

Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson would only talk about Reyes, much as the other day they would only talk about new closer Heath Bell when Reyes' deal had not yet become official.

Difference is, there is no agreement with Pujols yet. And there are growing indications that there might not be.

"We're working on some things," was the only thing Loria would say. "Stay tuned."

As the day got longer Wednesday, the lobby buzz at the Hilton Anatole here grew louder that Pujols is moving closer to returning to the Cardinals. Basically, the thinking goes, the Marlins' best chance was with a quick strike, which they executed Tuesday. The Cardinals increased their offer to 10 years and $220 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the same day.

Samson said that the Marlins' plan "always was a three-part move", and two of those part now are in house with Reyes and Bell. The third part, clearly, is Pujols. And if he passes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle.

If Pujols would decide to come to Miami, the Marlins' plan actually would extend out into at least four parts, because they would trade incumbent first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a starting pitcher.

Whatever happens, the Marlins would like to add starting pitching depth to go with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 12:39 am
 

New Marlin Bell: We can beat the Phillies

DALLAS -- Heath Bell, done. Jose Reyes, done.

Now owner Jeffrey Loria says the Marlins can add more, and you'd better believe it. The Marlins met twice with the agent for Albert Pujols on Monday, sources said late Monday night, boosting its nine-year offer in the process and giving the slugger even more to think about.

No decision was imminent as midnight approached, and one person with knowledge of the talks said they likely will play out more before a decision is reached. The Cardinals also met with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, on Monday, and so did the Cubs.

But it is the Marlins who have stolen the show early in these winter meetings, and it is their efforts for Pujols that have electrified the lobby here at the Hilton Anatole.

Pujols in the same lineup with Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and others?

"That would be great," Bell told CBSSports.com Monday. "I'm telling you right now, we definitely can win the NL East, even with just Reyes."

Imagine that. Even with just Reyes.

As in, gee, even if we don't sign Pujols, we've got an embarrassment of riches.

"I think we can win the division right now," Bell continued. "The Phillies, I think we can beat 'em.

"Ryan Howard is hurt. They might not be getting Jimmy Rollins back."

It is a tilting landscape and a bizarro world. As Rollins continued to frost out on the free agent market Thursday, sources said the Phillies were discussing free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Then they'd trade Placido Polanco, and maybe get a shortstop elsewhere

Whatever on the Phillies front. The Marlins are charging hard toward their new stadium and toward the top of the NL East.

Owner Jeffrey Loria would not speak directly about Pujols on Monday, but not because that's some crazy rumor.

"I don't want to talk about Albert," Loria said. "That's not the purpose of today. This is Heath's day."

Tuesday or, more likely, Wednesday will be Reyes' day, the day the Marlins introduce him formally here at the winter meetings.

Meantime, they're working hard toward another addition. The Pujols talks are serious. So are those for a starting pitcher. One person close to the Marlins suggested Monday night that free agent left-hander Mark Buehrle actually is above Pujols on the club's wish list. Loria has told people that the club's payroll, roughly $45 million last year, could zoom to the $100 million range in 2012.

When this winter started, that seemed like a bad joke.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, thinks the Marlins aren't serious now.

"I'm a serious guy," Loria said. "I don't know how many times I have to tell you guys that."

You cannot even begin to describe how different life is for the Marlins, whose executives arrived here about midday Monday. These are the guys -- Loria, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, general manager Michael Hill -- who sold their wares on the streets of the winter meetings in years past because they were so poor.

These are the guys who traded Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. ...

"We had a plan a few years ago," Loria said. "That's the reason why Mike Stanton is here, the reason why Logan Morrison is here, the reason why Hanley Ramirez is here."

As Beinfest says, the Marlins plan always was to compete, they just had to find extra creative ways to do so.

Now?

"It's fun," Beinfest kept saying Monday. "It's fun to come in here and sign an All-Star closer. There's nothing wrong with that."

In a perfect Marlins world, they'd leave Dallas on Thursday with Bell, Reyes and Pujols or Buehrle all done. But as quickly as they're moving, there's still some uncertainty.

"We'd love to get things done as fast as possible and achieve our goals," Beinfest said. "But we don't control everything. It takes two to tango."

Sure does. But the Marlins have entered the free agent market with swagger and are causing some folks to dance as fast as they can. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt said earlier Monday that he remains "hopeful" of signing Pujols.

"We're making every effort" to sign him, DeWitt said.

Well if they're serious, the Cardinals had better get moving. Because the Marlins are as serious as a spring breaker hell-bent on ravaging the Fort Lauderdale nightlife.

"We want to do more," Beinfest said. "We'd like to do more. There are some things we'd like to achieve.

"We're still in conversation with free agents and with clubs."

Every door is open, including trades -- with players both going and coming. Loria mostly remained tight-lipped regarding diva superstar Hanley Ramirez, who now must shove over to third base to make room for Reyes.

"Hanley is a super-professional," Loria said. "That's all I will say. We will work with him, make everything comfortable for him."

You bet they will. They're making everything comfortable for Bell, Reyes and others as they go. Loria anticipates attendance bumping up to somewhere between 2.8 and 3 million in 2012. They drew an NL-low 1.5 million last year.

They win like Bell says they can, maybe there really, finally, will be a buzz around the Marlins.

Said Beinfest: "It's time for this organization to play October baseball."



Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 2:19 am
 

Pujols? With Reyes, Marlins now need pitching

DALLAS -- Heath Bell opened some eyes. Jose Reyes opened some jaws.

But even with that, Miami isn't done in what is shaping up as the Winter of the Marlin.

Albert Pujols? Are they serious?

Indications late Sunday evening were yes, they're dead serious about pursuing Pujols even with Reyes bagged at six years and $106 million and Bell signed for three years and $27 million with a vesting option for a fourth year at another $9 million.

Question is, is adding Pujols a good idea? Or, at this point, is it simply the Marlins being silly?

Answer: Unless there's enough money to sign Mark Buerhle or C.J. Wilson after Bell, Reyes and Pujols -- and in a sentence I never, ever expected to type, even the Marlins must have a limit -- the noveau riche Fish are just being silly.

Adding Reyes to a dynamic lineup that includes Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton and All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez makes the Marlins an instant contender ... if they can pitch.

Adding Bell as their first legitimate closer in years solidifies their contending status ... if they have enough starting pitching to get the ball to him for 40 or 50 saves in 2012.

With Josh Johnson having crossed the 200 innings threshold only once in seven big-league seasons, and with Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad underperforming in 2012, what the Marlins need most is to back a much-improved lineup with pitching.

With the Reyes agreement, sources here Sunday night said the club absolutely has enough money to sign Bell, Reyes and a free agent starter such as Buehrle or Wilson. That is absolutely the way they should go.

Sure, Pujols, 31, is sexy and the Marlins right now are looking to throw their weight around. But now is the time to use brains, not testosterone.

No matter how the contracts are structured, if they commit in the neighborhood of $275 million or more to just two players -- Reyes and Pujols -- that is insane. Especially when their pitching would remain questionable.

Look for the Marlins to investigate the trade market this week because, assuming Reyes is not their last free-agent haul, they're going to have excess somewhere. They bag Pujols, Sanchez will be available. They add a starter, Nolasco could find himself on the trade block.

It's going to be a wild week here with the Marlins, perhaps a week unlike any other in their history. But what they don't need is to leave Dallas with a lasting hangover.

Tempting as Pujols is, pitching is where they should focus.

Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Can Marlins convince big guns to wear new unis?

Talk about moving and shaking.

The Miami Marlins have a new manager with a Q rating off the charts in Ozzie Guillen. They've squired free agents Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes around their new ballpark this week on recruiting visits. They've been in touch with free agent Prince Fielder, and sources say they're very active in the relief pitching market as well (Heath Bell?).

Thursday, a Marlins contingent is due in the Dominican Republic to watch Yoennis Cespedes, the flashy Cuban defector who is expected to be declared a free agent within the next few weeks.

Now, poised to unveil new uniforms on Friday, the question is: Will the Fish be able to hook a marquee free agent or two to wear those new threads?

Perhaps a better -- and certainly more direct -- question: Are the Fish really and truly serious about changing their gills and writing jumbo-sized checks? Or is this an early winter blitz to sell tickets that will end with ticket-holders looking around a new ballpark next summer wondering where all those big plans went?

Sorry, two questions there, not one.

But with the Marlins, things are rarely as they seem.

Unquestionably, their early-winter actions have the attention of an industry that has long been accustomed to watching owner Jeffrey Loria do what Mike Ditka once accused Bears owner George Halas of doing: Throw nickels around like manhole covers.

But the Marlins finally have a new stadium and they know they need to fill it. In fact, club president David Samson, during an interview on SiriusXM radio Wednesday, predicted that the club will be "drawing, I'd say, 30,000 to 35,000 every single game."

Last year, the Marlins averaged 19,007 per game, last in the National League and 28th in the majors.

"They're trying to sell tickets," one industry source said Wednesday of the Marlins' aggressive early movement. "They're trying to get people excited about the ballpark. If they can do that, good for them."

If they can lure Reyes, All-Star Hanley Ramirez, who underwent left shoulder surgery after playing in only 92 games last season, would slide over to third base.

Buehrle, who has logged 200 or more innings pitched for 11 consecutive seasons, would provide a nice veteran anchor to the rotation -- and his workload undoubtedly would help pick up the slack the next time ace Josh Johnson goes back onto the disabled list.

Certainly, if the Marlins can sign Reyes or Buehrle, that would preclude them from adding Fielder. And despite the early push, one veteran agent said Wednesday he can't see the Marlins adding more than one marquee free agent.

Still, it's the time of the winter for dreaming, and the Marlins right now are dreaming big. Just a year ago, they traded slugger Dan Uggla to Atlanta because they couldn't agree to terms on a contract extension. Just two Januarys ago, the players' union nicked them for violating revenue-sharing rules and not spending enough money on player payroll.

We know the Marlins are moving into a brand new ballpark in 2012.

But are they really moving into a new world as well?

As Samson and Guillen pulled out all the stops with Reyes at the iconic Joe's Stone Crab for lunch Wednesday, they would have us believe they are. They've indicated that they intend to crank up their payroll in 2012 to $80 million or so, from $57 million in 2011.

Fine. But until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new uniforms, it's all sizzle and no steak -- or, as they'd say at Joe's, all shell and no crab.

Until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new threads, the Marlins remain as they always have: Buyer beware.
Posted on: July 31, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 6:12 pm
 

Shocked Bell watches Adams leave for Texas

A still-dazed looking Heath Bell sat at his locker one hour before Sunday's trade deadline and moments after the Padres had shipped set-up man Mike Adams to the Rangers still trying to figure it all out.

His wife had just left him am message and told him: You've been traded to Texas.

Yes, she had been watching television.

"So I went to the back room to call her, and I came back into the clubhouse and Mike's traded," Bell said.

Bell? He was staying in San Diego, according to one Padres' source, barring some late, astronomical offer from the Yankees or the Phillies (or another late entrant).

And as you might have heard, that never came.

"I'm surprised," Bell said. "Texas is getting a great pitcher [in Adams]. It's unbelievable. I'm happy for him. He's from Texas."

Even after the Adams deal an hour before Sunday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trading deadline, had Bell been told he was staying?

"I haven't been told anything," he said. "You never know what's going to happen. Jed [Hoyer, Padres' general manager] makes the hard decisions."

Bell has repeatedly said he will be willing to accept a discounted contract, either now or while on the free agent market this winter.

"I haven't been offered anything," he said. "I can't take a discount on something I haven't been offered. I'm not taking an insane discount, but I would take a discount as a free agent to come back here."

As for Sunday's wild day in the Padres clubhouse, Bell shook his head.

"Supposedly, there were going to be four or five of us traded," Bell said. "Now there's only been one [two, after Ryan Ludwick was shipped to Pittsburgh minutes before the deadline]. I'm not relieved. Mike Adams is one of the best set-up men in the game.

"We're going to miss a great friend and a good teammate."

Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:55 am
 

Yankees join Rangers, Phils, Cards in Bell talks

With the top-shelf starting pitchers off the market, the Yankees contacted the Padres about closer Heath Bell on Sunday morning just hours before the deadline, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The Yankees' last-minute entrance into the Bell derby is not surprising: Having failed to get Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, and if they find no other satisfactory starter, the Yankees are expected to fortify their bullpen today. It's what they did last winter after failing to acquire Cliff Lee on the free agent market. Then, they signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees were one of at least four clubs continuing to call the Padres about Bell on Sunday morning, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals continue to talk with San Diego, though to varying degrees.

"They're stalling," one rival source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday morning.

"They aren't being fair," said another.

Clearly, the Padres are taking the Bell talks up to the very last minute while seeking as big of a return as they can get.

All along, Padres sources have insisted that they will keep Bell if they do not get a deal they like, based on the compensatory draft picks they expect to get if they lose him as a free agent this winter. Because Bell will be a Type A free agent, San Diego is expecting one first-round compensatory pick roughly 20 or so picks into the draft, and a sandwich pick in the 40s between the first and second round.

Texas' acquisition of Koji Uehara from Baltimore on Saturday well could have chipped away at the Padres' return for Bell. The Rangers once were viewed as both the most desperate club in the Bell talks and as one with such a deep farm system that the Padres could get a healthy package of prospects back. The latter part of that still holds true because, in sending Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to Baltimore for Uehara, the Rangers did not dip into their minor-league pool.

Now, with Texas' need not quite so dire, the Rangers are described as not pushing quite so hard on Bell.

Meantime, a source said the Phillies continue to stay in touch on Bell and Padres set-up man Mike Adams, but after their acquisition of Hunter Pence they appear to be unmotivated shoppers in San Diego. The Phillies are building for October, and with Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation, they easily can move Roy Oswalt and/or Vance Worley into the bullpen to strengthen it.

The Cardinals, according to another source, remain in the Bell talks, but only slightly. They added pitchers Edwin Jackson and two relievers from Toronto the other day and shortstop Rafael Furcal trade became official Sunday morning.

Bell certainly makes sense for the Yankees, especially because earlier this month he said he would be fine with working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season, as long as he returns to closing in 2012. The Yankees, of course, have Mariano Rivera for the ninth innings, but Bell could help them significantly shorten games by teaming with Soriano and All-Star David Robertson to take care of the seventh and eighth innings.


Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:13 pm
 

Rangers, Padres find no middle ground on Bell

The Padres have vowed they will not deal closer Heath Bell for anything less than a highly attractive return, and heading into the final hours toward the trade deadline, they're putting the Rangers to that test.

The Padres and Rangers continue to discuss Bell, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com, though those discussions did not advance much Friday from where they were a day earlier. The Padres' price has not come down, and Texas' offer has not increased.

Even at that, however, Bell still may be the Rangers' player to lose (if there is such a thing as "losing" a player you've never had): St. Louis continues to stay involved, according to sources, but only on the "fringe." And the Angels, who are said to be looking to boost their bullpen, currently are not involved.

That isn't to say the Angels or other clubs could not jump into the talks Saturday or sometime before Sunday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline. But as of now, the Rangers remain the biggest presence at the trade table, and they and the Padres continue to engage in a staredown.

According to CBSSports.com sources, the Padres are asking a three-player return for Bell, which surely could be adjusted down to two players if Texas produces the right two players. The Padres watched left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin's last start for Double-A Frisco and are believed interested in him. A few other key names in the Texas system: Martin Perez, a left-hander pitching at Triple-A Round Rock, Frisco right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Joe Wieland, and shortstop Jurickson Profar, 18, currently playing at Class A Hickory.

Bell, who collected his 30th save on Thursday, owns a 2.34 ERA and said of a trade, "It's going to happen."

He predicted: "It probably will be down to the wire."

That's the way it looks now. Texas is intent on improving its bullpen: Its 4.46 ERA is fourth-highest in the AL and the Rangers' 15 blown saves were tied for the third-highest. And as highly regarded as closer Neftali Feliz is, Rangers manager Ron Washington said the other day that he would like to see "a little more fire" from the closer.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traveled to Toronto for this weekend's series with the Blue Jays, and several of his key advisers are with him as they sort through final offers and final moves between now and Sunday's deadline.

If the Padres elect to hold on to Bell and he leaves as a free agent this winter, they would receive two compensatory draft picks for him, the first one likely 20-something picks into the draft and the other in the 40s.


Posted on: July 28, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Bell talks continue, Rangers balk at high price

What we know right now is that the Rangers and Padres have spent significant time on the telephone over the past 24 hours with Texas taking a hard run at acquiring closer Heath Bell.

But while talks have been significant, substantive, pick your word, the potential deal continued to just sit there Thursday while the Rangers balked at the Padres' asking price, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com.

The Padres, according to sources, are asking a three-player return for Bell, a price Texas is not eager to pay. Whether Texas' pause could open the door for St. Louis, the Los Angeles Angels or another suitor to move in is unclear.

"It's going to happen," Bell said of a trade after he collected his 30th save of the season in San Diego's 4-3 win over Arizona. "It will probably be down to the wire."

Bell thinks he'll end up in Texas. The Rangers remain very interested, according to sources, and talks are said to be ongoing -- though, as of early afternoon Thursday in San Diego, they were not hot.

San Diego had a scout watching Texas pitching prospect Robbie Erlin at Double-A Frisco the other night. Erlin, Texas' third-round pick in the 2009 draft, is 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 starts this season, with 61 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

The Rangers and Padres have had "good talks" over the past 24 hours, one source said, though Thursday's cooling is an indication that if there is to be a deal reached, it likely will not happen before Friday. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is said to be traveling with the Rangers to Toronto for this weekend's series and further trade deadline discussions.

Texas has settled on bullpen help as its top priority, and manager Ron Washington lately has become disenchanted with closer Neftali Feliz, saying publicly the other day that he wants to see "a little more fire" from the closer.

"I just don't see the urgency," Washington said. "I'm not saying it's not there, but he's not exuding urgency."

Bell, tied for third in the NL with 29 saves and a three-time All-Star, is full of energy, and his presence -- or that of another reliever like him -- probably would jack up Feliz a little bit.

The Rangers are said to be honed in on Bell, and indications are that they do not believe the Padres are going to trade set-up man Mike Adams.

One Padres source said the other day that the club believes Bell would sign a discounted multi-year deal in San Diego as a free agent this winter and, as such, suggested the club could keep him this summer.

"That's the key right there," Bell said after Thursday's game. "Honestly, with everything that's happened, I wouldn't rule out anything. I said I'd take a discount, and I want to stay here. Everyone knows that."

Still, it's hard to see the Padres not dealing him and getting something in return, even if talks between the closer and the team would lead toward belief that they could reunite this winter.

Padres GM Jed Hoyer was not available at Thursday afternoon's Arizona-San Diego game. But on Wednesday, he told AM1090, the Padres' flagship radio, "I think we should [trade]. We don't have the talent base here that we need two have in order to be successful."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com