Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Padres need to discover whether Heath Bell can close

Remember back in 1993 when the San Diego Padres brought in an unknown pitcher from the Florida Marlins during the team’s fire sale days who was often booed by San Diego fans?

Little did anyone know that 16 years later, Trevor Hoffman would be the all-time MLB saves leader with 554 (not to mention a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.)

The Padres may have botched their handling of the Hoffman situation after 2008, but there’s no question they need to find out whether Heath Bell is the closer of the future.

(And there’s no better year to do it than in 2009, when the team will likely finish last whether Hoffman or Bell is the closer.)

Bell may be 552 career saves short of Hoffman, but there’s no telling how good (or bad) he’ll be moving from an eighth- to ninth-inning role.

To be sure, the Padres may not get to Bell very often unless Jake Peavy or Chris Young is the starting pitcher. Plus, the set up duo of Cla Meredith and Duaner Sanchez isn’t likely to strike fear in the hearts of opposing batters.

Even so, the Padres need to discover whether Bell can succeed on those limited save opportunities.

As for Hoffman, he’ll start the season on the disabled list for only the second time in his career.

In retrospect, it’s too bad he and the Padres could not have agreed to go one more year together.

When all is said and done, don’t be surprised if Trevor Hoffman and the Milwaukee Brewers are this year’s version of the 2008 one-year marriage between Brett Favre and the New York Jets.


sam said...

Bell should be as good this year as Hoffman was last year. Trevor is definitely on the decline; Bell on the rise.

kareem said...

It is defintely time for the Padres to find out if Heath Bell can be a closer in the Major Leagues. For better or worse, Bell is being given the chance to prove he can be the man. The Padres are in for a rough season; hopefully Bell can fill one of the many holes they will have this season.

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