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New York Yankees: Can Heath Bell Rejuventae Career, Re-Discover All Star Talent in Bronx?

June 16th, 2014 at 2:58 PM
By Doug Rush

On Friday, the New York Yankees signed former All Star closer Heath Bell to a minor league deal and placed him with their Class-AAA Scranton/Wilks-Barre team with hopes of Bell finding his old form.

Bell, whom the Yankees once had interest in three years ago at the trade deadline as bullpen insurance for the postseason, was once a very good closer for the San Diego Padres; his last dominating season was in 2011 when he posted a 2.44 ERA and 43 saves. Following that season, Bell signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Miami Marlins as part of Miami's heavy spending.

Only it didn't work out for the Marlins or Bell, as he posted a 5.09 ERA with 19 saves and was eventually demoted as the closer. The following year, Bell was shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks in part of a three-team deal involving the Oakland A's. In Bell's one season with Arizona, he posted a 4.11 ERA with 15 saves. Arizona them shipped him off after the 2013 season to the Tampa Bay Rays in part of a three-team deal.

With Tampa Bay, Bell posted a 7.27 ERA and a 1-1 record in 13 appearances and was released on May 10. Bell was then signed by the Baltimore Orioles eight days later and made 10 relief appearances in Class-AAA Norfolk, but because the Orioles weren't going to call him up to the majors, they released Bell and now he's got a chance with the Yankees.

In his first two appearances for Class-AAA Scranton/Wilks-Barre, Bell allowed three runs on three hits and struck out three and has an ERA of 13.50, which isn't exactly showing promise, but the Yankees will work with Bell to see if the 36-year-old can find a form that made him one of the top relievers in the sport.

Even while in San Diego and was an all star reliever, Bell had weight issues which caused problems with his health and his effectiveness; Bell was able to overcome them, although that was several years ago when he was younger. Even so, Bell still knows how to overcome odds.

The Yankees bullpen has been effective in 2014 with David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Matt Thornton, but if Bell can find his form, it only makes a strength of the team that more effective and stronger. Given the fact that the Yankees are dealing with life after Mariano Rivera, the unit is doing well but can always be better, especially if the Yankees make a run towards the postseason.

If Bell doesn't find his form, they can simply release him and wipe their hands clean and it barely costs them anything; as the Marlins and Rays are on the hook for Bell's $9 million salary. The Yankees made it work with other relievers in the past, and Brian Cashman will look like a genius if Bell can discover his old form and talent that he once had in San Diego.

If not, it could be the end of Bell's career as a major league pitcher.

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Tags: Baseball, Heath Bell, MLB, New York, New York Yankees

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