Results tagged ‘ Florida Marlins ’

Carlos Correa: Real Deal or Future Bust? #Astros

When the Astros drafted Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa first overall, they picked the player with the most potential for impact – and most potential to become a complete bust – in the draft.   A tremendous athlete, Correa has been lauded for his quick hands and potential at the plate, his grace and strong arm in the field, and his speed, Correa is a 6’3” shortstop approaching 200 pounds at age 17.  Much of the commentary has focused on Correa’s potential and his age – Correa won’t turn 18 until September 22 (the same day as Tommy Lasorda will turn 85), which further underscores his potential for improvement, especially given the results of a groundbreaking study published by Rany Jazayerli at Baseball Prospectus.

Carlos Correa - Source: Houston Chronicle

Source: Houston Chronicle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Correa signed quickly – and for under slot - there was a lot of buzz around whether the Astros picked the best available player, a player who would sign quickly for less than the maximum, or had hastily gone Matt Bush on the organization. Personally, I think it’s a great move.  The Astros got a top flight talent at a premium position and saved some money to spread to other picks.

But I began to wonder out of the shortstops drafted out of high school in the first round of the major league draft:

  1. How many made it to the major leagues;
  2. Were successful major leaguers; and
  3. How many remained shortstops?

In order to answer these questions, I used MLB draft data from Baseball-Reference.com to pull all of the draft picks from 1990-2007 for the first two rounds.  Here is the full data set via Google Docs (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjuFn-ctXd3VdF9jQkVtMC03dE9TeENMYVg2SHZJOFE).

I filtered for:

  1. Listed position when being drafted, assuming the likelihood of a player moving TO shortstop was exceedingly low;
  2. Filtered for shortstop (as opposed to college players);
  3. Filtered for players drafted out of short stop; and
  4. Looked into only the first round (as second round picks would rarely be a prospect of the level of Correa).

Here’s what I found:

First Round HS SS in MLB Draft 1990-2007

38 players fit the requirements, including:

As you may notice, the success rate is exceedingly low, with only a few players who are even potential hall of famers and almost as many players are colossal flops as good players.  A total of 13 never made it to the major leagues in any capacity and five appearing in under 100 games.

Successful picks:

  1. Chipper Jones: Basically a third baseman from the start of his major league, though he played a little time in left field and even less at short stop.  What’s most amazing is was not even supposed to be the #1 pick – more on that here.
  2. Derek Jeter: A short stop from day one and has not played another defensive position in the major leagues (unless you count his games at DH).  Not the greatest range but sure hands and makes it look good.
  3. Alex Rodriguez:  Historic talent and historic centaur.

Good Picks:

  1. Pokey Reese:  Basically a defense-only player but, wow, could he pick it.
  2. Michael Cuddyer:  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he has never played short stop in the major leagues, primarily a right fielder (731 games), first baseman (214 games), and a third baseman (214 games).  Stopped playing shortstop after making 61(!) errors while playing for the Fort Wayne Wizards of the Midwest League at the age of 19.
  3. Felipe Lopez:  One good offensive year (291/352/486 in 2005), but appeared in 1185 games across 11 major league seasons.  He was a better hitter – and a worse fielder – than I realized.

Interesting Picks:

  1. Josh Booty:  After signing a contract reported to be worth $1.2 million, Booty struck out a lot and hit for some power.  Gave up baseball after 1998 and went to LSU to be their starting quarterback before being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 6th round… and never appear in the NFL.
  2. Sergio Santos:  Santos was a good prospect who never hit enough and made a lot of errors; then he became a relief pitcher and is laughing at all of us.

Colossal Flops:

  1. Brandon Wood:  Read about him here.
  2. Matt Bush:  Read about him here.

 Players Whose Places Have Yet to be Determined:

  1. BJ Upton:  Doesn’t walk, power is streaky, good center fielder.  Looks like he will stall out in the “Good Pick” category.
  2. Justin Upton:  The better of the Upton brothers (so far), could be a perennial MVP candidate and on pace to join the “Successful Pick” category.
  3. Mike Moustakas:  Too little time to judge, but hitting 278/346/480 is a very good start.

 So what does this mean? 

Out of the 38, 13 (34%) never made it to the major leagues, 17 made it and had WAR below 5 (45%), for a total of 30/38 (79%).  Of the successful ones, only Derek Jeter (98.6%), Felipe Lopez (53.5%), and Alex Rodriguez (51.5%) have primarily been shortstops.  Pokey Reese primarily played second base with a fair amount of time at shortstop, Chipper Jones only appeared at shortstop more than six times once (38 in 1996), and Michael Cuddyer is the definition of a defensive tweener.

In short (pun intended), Carlos Correa is probably not going to reach his potential, but then again, neither are the rest of the first round picks, so the Astros made a great pick by grabbing for the stars because, frankly, you seem to have about as good of a chance of drafting Matt Bush with the #1 overall pick as picking Alex Rodriguez.

Also, because someone actually asked, here’s WAR for #1 overall picks that were drafted out of High School:

No 1 Overall Pick Shortstop out of High School 1990-2007

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.

Sources:

http://www.baseball-reference.com

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=correa000car

http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?year_ID=2012&draft_round=1&draft_type=junreg&query_type=year_round

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lasorto01.shtml

http://www.perfectgame.org/players/playerprofile.aspx?ID=279388

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17173

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15295

Post Hype Prospect – Logan Morrison – @LoMoMarlins

One of the most entertaining, irreverent, talented, and controversial (in a good way!) players in major league baseball today is Florida Miami Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison, or, as he’s known to his twitter followers, LoMo.  Morrison was a star baseball player during his time at Northshore High School in Slidell, Louisiana, from which he graduated in 2005, but he did not grow up in Louisiana nor is his tale to the majors a typical one.

Justin Logan Morrison was born in Kansas City, Missouri, though he lived all over the country, moving with his parents due to his father’s employment with the United States Coast Guard.  Morrison lived in Kansas City, Missouri and Wilmington, North Carolina, among other places, but his heart was always in KC.  When his father, Tom, was transferred to New Orleans when Logan was 16, Tom had to break his promise to Logan that Logan would be able to finish high school in KC.  Tom knew that there were more baseball scouts in the south, thereby increasing Logan’s chances of being noticed.

Tom was also a strict disciplinarian who exercised significant control over Logan’s life; from staying at different hotels from the team on baseball trips (to prevent Logan from staying up late due to kids being kids) to having to throw a baseball with his cousin, Tony, 100 times without either dropping a single throw, Tom allowed no excuses and expected the best from Logan.  But Tom and Diane (Logan’s mother) spent considerable amounts of time and money to help Logan become a baseball player: from the buckets of baseballs, gloves, and bats; to building a dirt and clay mound in the back yard; to driving Logan to camps and tournaments.  While Tom was a strict disciplinarian with high standards, he clearly only wanted what was best for Logan long-term.

After graduating from high school, Morrison was drafted in the 22nd Round of the 2005 Rule IV draft by the Florida Marlins.  Morrison did not sign immediately, instead choosing to attend Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods in Kansas City, Missouri, where he starred on the baseball team, hitting .436 in his lone season.  Before the 2006 draft, Morrison signed with the Marlins as a draft-and-follow, a now-defunct rule that allowed clubs to maintain exclusive signing rights to a drafted player until a week before the following draft, provided that the drafted player attends junior college. Morrison signed for $225,000 and was assigned to the GCL Marlins, the Rookie Level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.  Morrison put up a respectable 270/343/348 line in 26 games in the GCL before being promoted to the Jamestown Jammers, the Marlins’ Short Season A affiliate in the New York-Penn League.  Morrison was clearly over-matched while in the NYPL, struggling while putting up a 203/295/284 line.  Though Morrison’s seasonal line was an unimpressive 239/321/219, he showed good patience at the place and a good glove at first base.

Morrison spent the 2007 season tearing up the A Level South Atlantic League.  Playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Morrison put up a 267/343/483 line with 24 home runs and 22 doubles.  After the season, Baseball America ranked Morrison the #16 prospect in the Marlins’ organization.  In 2008, Morrison broke out, putting up a 332/402/494 line while playing for the Jupiter Hammerheads, the Marlins’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League.  While Morrison’s home run total fell from 24 to 13, his walks increased (57 to 65) and strikeouts decreased (96 to 80), while hitting more doubles (22 to 38) in roughly the same number of plate appearances (513 to 555).  Baseball America ranked Morrison the #3 prospect in the Marlins system (behind Mike – now Giancarlo – Stanton and Cameron Maybin) and #18 overall (between Lars Anderson and Alcides Escobar).  Baseball America also ranked Morrison the “Best Hitter for Average” in the Marlins’ system, and “Best Batting Prospect”, “Best Strike Zone Discipline”, and “Best Defensive 1B” in the Florida State League in 2008.  Baseball ProspectusKevin Goldstein ranked Morrison the #4 prospect in the Marlins’ system (behind Maybin, Stanton, and Matt Domingez) and ranking Morrison #50 overall, stating Morrison was the “best pure hitter in Florida’s system” with an “advanced approach.”  Superlatives kept rolling in, as Morrison was named to the 1st Team Minor League All-Star team as its 1B by Baseball America and the Florida State League’s MVP.

After the season, Morrison was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, where he put up a robust 404/449/667 line in 99 plate appearances.  While the Arizona Fall League is an environment that is very friendly to offense, it served to confirm Morrison’s vaunted prospect status.  While Morrison did not project as a typical slugging first baseman, his high contact rate, advanced approach at the plate, and great play at first base indicated a bright future.

Morrison opened the 2009 season playing for the Jacksonville Suns of the AA Southern League and broke his thumb in the second game of the season (he was 2/6 with 3 walks, a triple, and a home run at the time), missing nearly two months of the season.  When Morrison was healthy, he was send back to the High A Jupiter Hammerheads, where he appeared in three games before being sent back to Jacksonville.  Morrison ended the season with a solid 277/411/442 line in only 343 plate appearances. The highlight of Morrison’s season was batting .360 with nine runs in seven games as Jacksonville won the Southern League crown.  Despite only playing half of a season, Morrison’s prospect status remained steady, being ranked #2 in the Marlins’ system (only behind Stanton and now ahead of Dominguez) and #50 overall by Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus and #2 in the Marlins’ system (again, only behind Stanton) and #20 in all of baseball.  While his prospect status did move, there was increased concern about Morrison’s lack of power, with many prognosticators stating that his plate discipline needed to remain great in order to offset the lack of offensive production.

In January 2010, Morrison participated in a chat at BaseballAmerica, interacting with fans and showing off his funny side.  Morrison discussed his willingness to play the outfield if he didn’t win the spring training competition with Gaby Sanchez (“I will catch if they want me to.”), when he will make his Major League debut (“That’s a better question for Larry Beinfest, our GM.”), and his advice for people who attend small schools and hope they can still make it big (“If you think you can’t make it big, you never will! You are what you believe, hard work and dedication goes a long way in making up for lack of talent.”)

In 2010, Morrison was invited to the major league spring training with the Marlins and struggled against the better competition (and tiny sample size), putting up a 209/244/326 line in 43 plate appearances.  Assigned to the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Marlins’ AAA Level affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, Morrison was hitting 300/450/600 (approximately – I can’t find game logs with SF and SH) when he had a collision with the Round Rock Express’s Matt Kata and injured his shoulder. Morrison was hurt and missed the next month, living with his parents in Slidell while resting and rehabbing.  Upon return, Morrison was sent to the Jupiter Hammerheads, where he feasted on High A pitching to a 381/381/667 line across five games and was returned to the Zephyrs.  Morrison hit 308/520/465 (yes, his OBP was above his slugging) for the next two months, whereas he was called up by the Marlins.

As Morrison’s baseball career was ascending, his personal life was falling apart.  Logan’s father, Tom, a lifelong non-smoker, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer in February 2010.  Effectively given a death sentence, Tom had only one question: “Will I get to see my son play in the big leagues?”  Morrison made his Major League debut on July 27, singling in four at bats against the San Francisco Giants, including going 1-3 against Matt Cain.  Morrison was also doing something he had only done 21 times before – playing left field; Morrison played left field twice in 2009 and 19 times in 2010 prior to being called up.  With Gaby Sanchez paying first base for the Marlins, Morrison’s athleticism would be used in left field.

Tom Morrison watched every game on television but, more than anything, wanted to see Logan play in the Major Leagues in person.  Doctors deemed Tom too sick to fly, as it would expose his immune system, devastated by chemotherapy, to too many potential illnesses.  The plan was hatched: Tom would take a 30-hour train ride from New Orleans to New York to see Logan play the New York Mets on August 25, Logan’s 23rd birthday.  Batting second (his normal place) and playing left field, Morrison went 3/5 with his first big league triple, while scoring two runs.  Tom Morrison passed on December 8 and Logan started LoMo Camp for a Cure shortly thereafter, a camp for kids to receive baseball instruction, a camp shirt, and autographs – a way for kids to have fun, with the proceeds benefitting the American Lung Association.

Despite all of the personal chaos, Morrison had his best season in baseball, hitting 283/390/447 in 62 games at the big league level with 20 doubles, seven triples, and two home runs, walking 41 times and striking out 51 times.  Morrison’s exceptional approach at the plate drew rave reviews, though his lack of home run power gave some pause.

In 2011, Morrison started the year with the Marlins, putting up a 327/424/636 (small sample size) line in the first 15 games of the season before injuring his foot.  Morrison strained a muscle in the arch of his left foot missed the next four weeks, before a three-game rehabilitation stint with the Jupiter Hammerheads.  Returning to the Marlins, Morrison struggled, hitting 235/308/433 before being sent down to AAA – but the reason was not entirely due to his lack of production.  Morrison’s outspoken personality (namely his willingness to talk frankly with reporters and active twitter account) and his skipping of a (technically optional) meet-and-greet session with season ticket holders.

Regarding the demotion, Morrison stated:

“I’m heartbroken and I’m disappointed.  I asked for an explanation and the one I got was I was hitting .240 I don’t know if that makes any sense to me or to you guys but. All I know is I go out and I give everything for this team. I play hurt, I play through injury and this is how you get treated. It doesn’t seem very fair or right to me.’

Of course, it’s possible that his demotion was due to his blasting of teammate Hanley Ramirez’s lack of effort during the 2011 season (whether perceived or actual), sparked by being the last player to arrive at the ballpark on new manager Jack McKeon’s first day.  Morrison was hardly the first player to criticize Ramirez’s effort – from a verbal altercation with Dan Uggla to Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine, saying he would saying that, if were up to him, he would probably trade Ramirez because he doesn’t seem to care enough or respect the game.

But, it seems that it was a combination of his Twitter use (he was warned by team president David Samson in May), general friction with Marlins management, and a lack of elite level productivity.  Either way, Morrison hit 167/222/375 during his time in AAA and was called back up in short order.  For the rest of the season, Morrison hit 240/339/480, mashing six home runs in 115 plate appearances.  Despite the ups and downs, Morrison’s 247/330/468 line was actually pretty good – a 116 OPS+ and 23 home runs (good for second on the Marlins, after Giancarlo – then Mike – Stanton).

In September, Morrison filed a grievance against the Marlins, saying his demotion was not for baseball reasons and he should have received his full Major League salary for the time of his demotion.

After the season, Morrison decided to have a little fun with reporters who fail to properly check stories before going out to the public with them:

Predictably, twitter erupted.  Morrison followed up with the following, indicating that his tweet was little more than a ruse:

In order to close out the ruse, Morrison tweeted a third time:

So what do we make out of Logan Morrison?  He may never win a batting title or hit 40 home runs, and his use of social media is something that the Marlins will probably never like, but, as the adage goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  But we should root for players like Morrison – he clearly tries his hardest while doing sticking to baseball’s true intention: entertainment.  He interacts with fans on twitter:

Gives (potentially inaccurate) tours of New York City while on a double decker bus:

And goes fishing with Jenn Sterger:

Beyond that, Logan Morrison is a success story.  Despite being a 22nd round pick in 2005, Morrison has appeared in excess of 200 major league games and has left field on lock down for the Marlins, with a possibility of moving to first base should Gaby Sanchez keep hitting under .200.  Amazingly, Morrison is one of three 22nd round picks from 2005 to make the major leagues – Tommy Hanson (Braves/27th pick, 677 overall) and Jaime Garcia (Cardinals/30th pick/680 overall) – and all have become solid players, if not stars outright.

Above all, check out LoMo Camp for a Cure: LoMo Camp for a Cure

Until next time, follow me on Twitter @HypeProspect and Logan @LoMoMarlins.

Sources:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/chat/2010/269453.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=year_round&year_ID=2005&draft_round=22&draft_type=junreg

http://royalsblog.kansascity.com/?q=node/635

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/features/9911dfe.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=morris001log

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/morrilo01.shtml

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9205&position=OF

http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=9205&position=OF&season=2006

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=110915/loganmorrison

http://www.baseballamerica.com/statistics/players/cards/70376

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/all-time.html

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8323

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8506

http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=9205&position=OF&season=2009

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=Logan-Morrison

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Logan_Morrison

http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=9205&position=OF&season=2010

http://zephyrsbaseball.mlblogs.com/2010/05/05/first-base-updates/

http://www.nola.com/zephyrs/index.ssf/2010/04/albuquerque_isotopes_cruise_pa.html

http://lomo4lungs.org/

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/marlins/logan-morrison-sent-down-wes-helms-released-after-1740594.html

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/fish_bytes/2011/06/logan-morrison-blasts-hanley-ramirez-in-front-of-teammates-.html

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4441073

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/fish_bytes/2011/07/______________________________________________________________-tonights-lineups-marlins-1-emilio-bonifacio3b-2-omar.html

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=6611550

http://withleather.uproxx.com/2011/12/blogging-advice-logan-morrisons-twitter-is-not-a-source

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=Logan-Morrison#Awards

http://zephyrsbaseball.mlblogs.com/2010/04/

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/08/morrison-could-file-grievance-against-marlins.html

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/09/logan-morrison-files-grievance-against-marlins.html

Non-Hype Prospect – Heath Bell

It is often said that Americans love the narrative of the underdog.  That is only partially true: the whole world loves the underdog.  We root for the upset; we root for the improbable; we root for the statistically improbable.  There’s nothing the world loves more than David taking out Goliath (unless, of course, we have Goliath on our fantasy team).  The prospect equivalent to David is the undrafted free agent.  A player so undesired, whose desire to play professional baseball is so unrequited, that no team values them highly enough to say their name on a conference call.  Many of these players are signed and never make it out of A ball, but a select few make the show and become stars including, but not limited to, Larry Bowa, Kevin Mitchell, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Leyritz.

Much has been made about how Mike Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round in 1988, but he was drafted (albeit as a favor to his father by his godfather, Tommy Lasorda).  The subject of this article is three-time All-Star Heath Bell, a pitcher who placed 8th in the 2010 National League Cy Young Award vote.  Despite lettering in football, basketball, and baseball while attending Tustin High School in Tustin, California, Bell failed to impress scouts and was not drafted.  Bell attended Santiago Canyon College and was named a freshman All-American in 1997.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Bell in the 69th Round of the 1997 draft.  The 69th round had a total of three picks (neither of which appeared to play any professional baseball at any point), the final of which was Bell.   Bell didn’t sign with the Devil Rays and made two appearances for the El Dorado Broncos in the National Baseball Congress World Series.  Alas, Bell was not drafted in 1998 and signed with the New York Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1998.

Bell impressed from the start, a 2.54 ERA and 61 strike outs in 22 games (46 innings) at Kingsport of the Rookie Level Appalachian League in 1998 earned him a promotion to the Mets full season A affiliate for 1999, the South Atlantic League’s Capital City Bombers.  In Capital City, Bell put up a 2.60 ERA with 68 strikeouts across 62.1 innings.  In 2000, Bell appeared in 48 games for the St. Lucie Mets, the Mets’ affiliate in the High A Florida State League.  In St. Lucie, Bell continued to excel, striking out 75 in 60 innings while putting up a sparkling 2.55 ERA.

Bell hit his first bump in 2001, when he was promoted to the Mets’ affiliate in the Eastern League, the Binghamton Mets.  Bell appeared in 43 games, striking out 55 and putting up a 6.02 ERA.  Bell returned to Binghamton in 2002 and put up an electric 1.18 ERA while striking out 49 in 38 innings.  Bell was promoted to the Norfolk Tides, the Mets AAA affiliate in the International League, and pitched reasonably well, putting up a 4.26 ERA with 28 strike outs in 31.2 innings.  In 2003, Bell put up a lackluster 4.71 ERA at Norfolk, while striking out 44 in 49.2 innings.  After the season, it was revealed that Bell had a stress fracture in his right arm that Mets team doctors failed to diagnose.

After one two-inning appearance in Binghamton to start 2004, Bell was promoted to Norfolk, where he put up a 3.12 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 55.2 innings, earning Bell a September call up to the Mets where he put up a respectable 3.33 ERA with 27 strikeouts across 24.1 innings.  In 2005, Bell began riding the “Heath Bell Express”, as he was shuttled between AAA Norfolk and New York as the Mets whenever the Mets needed another bullpen arm.  Bell put up a 1.69 ERA in Norfolk and a 5.59 ERA for the Mets.  Bell clashed with Mets’ Pitching Coach Rick Peterson, who put the kibosh on Bell’s weight-losing in-line skating that helped him lose weight during spring training.  In 2006, Bell resumed riding the “Heath Bell Express” as he put up a 1.29 ERA in Norfolk and a 5.11 ERA for the Mets.

In mid-November, the Mets dealt Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the San Diego Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins.  Acquiring Bell paid immediate dividends for the Padres.  After putting up a 2.02 ERA over 93.2 innings in 2007, Bell put up a 3.58 ERA over 78 innings in 2008.  In 2009, longtime Padres closer Trevor Hoffman signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and Bell became the closer, racking up a National League-leading 42 saves to go with his sparkling 2.71 ERA.  Bell’s success has continued, as he put up 47 saves to go with a 1.93 ERA in 2010 followed by 43 saves and a 2.44 ERA in 2011.

After the 2011 season, Bell became a free agent for the first time and signed a three-year contract worth $27 million (with a vesting option for a fourth year worth another $9 million based upon games finished) with the Florida Miami Marlins.  While Bell has not been perfect to start the season (or, even, particularly good), there is no reason to suspect Bell will be anything other than the top-tier closer that he has been for the past three seasons.  On a personal note, I must say I am happy for him.  I always felt that the Mets misused him, though some of that may have been a result of his outspoken ways, as first reported in an article by Tim Kurkjian:

“Everything in New York was so serious,” Bell said. “I should keep my mouth shut, but I never do. In 2005, I didn’t pitch for 28 straight days. I don’t know if I did something to Willie [Randolph, then the manager of the Mets]. I didn’t always get along with [then pitching coach] Rick Peterson. I don’t know if they wanted to make me the scapegoat. It was a bad situation. I was an undrafted player. I was a walk-on. I was the last guy to get to the big leagues. I came in with [former manager] Art Howe, then went to Willie. I was with [former general manager] Steve Phillips, then [former GM] Jim Duquette, then [current general manager] Omar Minaya. No one really saw me. But they heard about me in the papers.”

Alas, the first question is: What happened?  How did every team miss on Bell (twice, as he was not drafted in the 1998 draft)?  The answer is that drafting baseball players is incredibly difficult and the level of play between high school and college are an ocean away from the level of play in the major leagues.  This difference of play requires scouts to make projections about players four to six years into the future, a difficult task at best. The Mets should get credit for giving Bell a chance, but should be severely dinged for the fact that, once he showed the ability to thoroughly dominate AAA, never giving Bell a chance to succeed at the major league level.  Further, former Mets General Manager Omar Minaya should be excoriated for his trades prior to the 2007 season.  Dealing Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for non-factors Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins was just the start of the problem.  Minaya continued by dealing relievers Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick (which would have worked out well had Minaya not dealt the solid Vargas to the Seattle Mariners in the ill-fated J.J. Putz deal), then dealing reliever Brian Bannister for Ambiorix Burgos, who pitched poorly, got hurt, then committed a number of crimes (assaulting his girlfriend, hit an run, then kidnapping and poisoning his ex-wife).

The second question is: How did Bell figure it out?  Clearly the Mets felt Bell was little more than a middle reliever or, possibly even gave bell the dreaded 4A label.  Maybe Bell was better than the Mets believed, but I feel that Bell learned a lot from one of the greatest closers of all time, Trevor HoffmanAs Bell put it:

“Trevor taught me a lot, including, ‘let’s have fun,'” Bell said. “He taught me that we have to be serious, but we’re allowed to have fun before and after games. Before the position players arrive every spring, the pitchers play games with comebackers [balls hit back to the box] and we play a game where we hit in the cage with fungos. It’s fun. San Diego has allowed me to be me. When the game starts, I want to tear your head off, but I’m one of the nicest guys I know. In Philadelphia last year, a fan screamed at me from the stands, ‘How many cheesesteaks did you have today, four?’ I yelled back, ‘Only three, why don’t you get me a fourth?’ Another guy yelled, ‘Hey, fatso.’ I yelled back, ‘Tell me something I don’t know. C’mon, this is Philly, you’re supposed to be better hecklers than that.'”

In the end, Heath Bell made it his own way and we should all be rooting for him, the true underdog.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.

Sources:

http://www.baseball-reference.com

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=bell–001hea

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bellhe01.shtml

http://www.heathbell21.com/?page_id=2

http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/news/print.jsp?ymd=20090413&content_id=4253624&vkey=news_sd&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/bell-rings-true-san-diego-article-1.270871

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061115&content_id=1741019&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=nym

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=4073444

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07G23zMGa4g

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3620877

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3631601

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/29/ambiorix-burgos-charged-w_n_698163.html

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