Many say that spending big free agent money on a reliever is foolhardy, and they have yet another example to point to.
Heath Bell imploded again Sunday, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks while recording just two outs in Sunday’s walk-off loss to the Cardinals. It was Bell’s sixth blown save of the season, and he’s now the owner of a hideous 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP through 40 appearances this season.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen had given his big free agent reliever a vote of confidence not long ago, but he indicated after Sunday’s meltdown that a change in the ninth inning might be coming.
“I stand behind him, but on another hand he’s got to be better than that. He is better than that,’’ Guillen said in the Miami Herald. “If he doesn’t get better, I will find a solution because I just get tired to watch this, very disappointing to watch this every day. I try to give this kid confidence, hopes, but you get to the point where we have to win some games... I have to make a decision, a solution, it will be drastic. But I will do it. We’ll wait until the All-Star break, and I will pick whoever is better out there to do the job.’’
Guillen had already indicated before Bell’s latest blown save Sunday that Juan Carlos Oviedo could at least have a chance to share the closer job when he returns later this month.
"We’ll see how Bell’s throwing and we’ll flip-flop each for whatever reason," Guillen said.
Of course, Oviedo won’t be back until July 23, so it’s possible the Marlins could mix-and-match right after the All-Star break. Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica would be in line for some save chances from the right side, while Randy Choate could be called upon when left-handed hitters are due up.
Long Ways Away for Longo
Evan Longoria (hamstring) hasn’t played a game for the Rays since April, and it will be a while longer before he suits up again.
The All-Star third baseman suffered a setback last month and has yet to resume baseball-related activities. Even if he progresses as hoped from this point on, he likely won’t begin a rehab assignment until late this month and won't be back in the Rays lineup until mid-August.
"I have no idea when … he's going to be able to play again," manager Joe Maddon said in the Tampa Bay Times. "It's such a hard one to create conjecture with, other than if you wanted to bend to the negative side on this one, you may have to, as opposed to the positive side of it, meaning that it's probably going to take more as opposed to less time to get him back on the field."
To say that the Rays are spread thin offensively with Longoria out would be an understatement, as there might not be another player in baseball that’s more important to their team. Going into Sunday's game, the Rays have used seven third basemen since Longo has been out, and those players have hit just .231 with three homers while making 15 errors over 60 games.
Bucs Shopping for Outfield Help
The Pirates are perhaps the biggest first-half surprise in baseball, and if they had their druthers, they’d add a big offensive bat to the lineup prior to the July 31st trade deadline.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Pirates have engaged in preliminary trade discussions with the Diamondbacks involving Justin Upton and with the Padres involving Carlos Quentin. A deal doesn’t appear to be close at this point, but it’s clear that the Bucs are intent on upgrading an offense that could use a big bat.
A trade for Upton would be much harder to accomplish. He’s had a disappointing season, no doubt, but he doesn’t turn 25 until August and is under contract through 2015. Upton, of course, is also one of the most talented outfielders in the game, despite his inconsistency. Quentin is hitting .268/.406/.518 with seven homers in 33 games this season. But, he’s five years older than Upton and is a free agent after the season, so he’ll require less to part with and might be a more realistic trade target for Pittsburgh.
National League Quick Hits: Andrelton Simmons suffered a broken right pinkie finger in Sunday’s game and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Tyler Pastornicky could be called back up to fill in … Trevor Bauer’s third career start was easily his best, as he spun six shutout innings while allowing just two hits and a walk. It’s possible he’ll now remain in the rotation after Joe Saunders (shoulder) returns just after the break … Hanley Ramirez needed three stitches to close a laceration on his right hand Sunday. He suffered the injury when he punched a cooling fan following an at-bat. Ramirez should be OK to start the second half … Roy Halladay (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Clearwater Thursday if he gets through Tuesday's bullpen session. … Brian McCann clubbed a homer in his fourth straight game Sunday. McCann has been red-hot since getting some hitting tips from his brother … Ian Desmond homered Sunday for the second straight game and the fourth time in the last six contests. It’s clear that the oblique injury that will keep him out of the All-Star game isn’t a big deal.
American League Quick Hits: Clay Buchholz (esophagitis) has declared himself fit to rejoin the rotation on Saturday after a short rehab appearance Sunday at Triple-A Pawtucket. Buchholz has been out since mid-June and might be on a pitch count against the Rays … Colby Lewis (forearm) will rejoin the Rangers' rotation on July 18 at Oakland. He’s been out since late June with right forearm tendinitis. Lewis didn’t go on a rehab assignment, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be under a pitch count … Yoenis Cespedes left Sunday’s game with a sprained left thumb. It doesn’t appear to be an injury that will keep him out long … Salvador Perez went deep again Sunday, blasting his fourth homer in 13 games since making his 2012 debut on June 22 … C.J. Wilson has been scratched from the All-Star game due to a blister on his pitching hand. He’s expected to be OK to take his first turn after the break. Jake Peavy replaces him on the roster … CC Sabathia (groin) will throw a simulated game Friday before rejoining the Yankees rotation on July 17.