According to Buster Olney, the Giants were awarded a waiver claim on San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell. Even though the Giants are short a couple arms and Brian Sabean loves to add relievers any chance he gets, the odds that the Giants will actually end up with the not-so-slim Bell are slim for a few reasons:
1. San Diego’s in the same division, and as such has a vested interest in keeping the Giants from becoming a better team and winning another World Series and being totally annoying with that patch they wear and the reality show and…
2. Since the Padres are so familiar with the Giants, they know just how badly the Giants need Bell. Unless they weren’t paying attention when Brian Wilson’s “back injury” became a Dr. James Andrews visit and elbow inflammation that would keep him out 2-3 days, and then became a full-fledged DL stay a couple days later. And that’s not even considering Sergio Romo, who hit the DL before Wilson even injured his “back.”
3. The Padres will ask the moon (otherwise known as “the Gary Brown”) in a trade, the Giants will balk, and the Padres will pull Bell back. That’s probably how this thing will go, and it would still be considered a successful move for the Giants since Bell wouldn’t become a Philadelphia Phillie or an Arizona Diamondback.
But as @gggiants said today, and then backed up with this story from Hardball Talk, perhaps the Padres are more willing to deal Bell than people think. The prevailing wisdom was they’d offer Bell arbitration, and if he declined they’d receive compensatory draft picks. But on Aug. 1, Bell said he wouldn’t necessarily decline arbitration:
“If I don’t have a multi-year deal and they offer me arbitration, I will accept arbitration,” Bell said. “My wife (Nicole) and I talked about all the scenarios last night.
“There is no downside to me accepting arbitration and the family staying in San Diego for at least another year. My kids love it here. My family is happy here. And I’m in a position where I can make some decisions right now.
“The ball is in my court. I want to stay in San Diego. And I want to win here.”
This could just be a fallback option for Bell, who turns 34 in September. But perhaps he wouldn’t be so upset at the chance to go to the Giants, a team with fans who enjoy visiting Petco Park from time to time. Bell openly complained about lack of support from San Diego…ans last year after facing the Phillies at home.
“We look up in the stands and there’s a sea of red, it would be nice to see some blue or brown shirts. I guess Padres fans aren’t ready to show up yet.”
And Bell famously tweeted, “SF are the nice people” a year ago. Sure, it was because the Giants’ announcers were whining about funny business with the humidor in Colorado, but it’s not crazy to assume Bell would be quite interested in pitching in front of sellout crowds where the vast majority roots for the home team.
Bell’s a great relief pitcher, a guy who made the All-Star team and has the sliding scars on his left shin to prove it. But with his K/9 taking a severe hit this year (6.79) after two dominant seasons in a row (10.21 in 2009 and 11.06 in 2010), Bell getting (and accepting) an arbitration award of $10 million or more for one season probably scares the Padres a bit.
But for Sabean, the chance to add Bell both this year and next is a no-brainer if Bill Neukom approves. Sabean’s probably looking at a picture of Bell on his Commodore 64 monitor and drooling as you read this. Hopefully he won’t do anything crazy like trade Tommy Joseph to the Padres tonight after Santiago Casilla walks in a run to blow the save (not saying that could EVER happen). However, if Sabean can convince the Padres to play it safe financially and dump Bell for two or three lower level prospects, the Giants will be much more prepared to weather the potential long-term loss of Wilson.