Saturday, December 3, 2011

RBI (47) This TTM Bell finally rang...

And it appears he also rang the cash register and will take whole truckloads of millions from the Miami Marlins in the coming season. Of course I'm referring to closing stalwart Heath Bell, who is quietly known as a reliable signer in person and TTM.

The Southern California native Bell was signed by the New York Mets as an Amateur free agent in 1998. He wouldn't make it to the big show until 2004 and would shuttle between the minors and Major League club for 3 seasons. Finally the Mets opted to trade the little used Bell to the San Diego Padres where he would become setup man for likely Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman.

As a member of the Padres he became a quick fan favorite known for his energy and antics. From his trademark Yoda Star Wars backpack to carry gear to the bullpen to his running full speed to the mound to lock down a save, Bell is definitely a presence in the clubhouse and on the field. During the 2011 All-Star Game weekend Bell was quoted as saying he was barred from signing autographs during the on field activities and gave a replica of his bag filled with previously autographed cards and balls to young fans in the stands asking for his autograph.

When Hoffman departed Bell became the Padres closer and he demonstrated the dominance he learned from watching Hoffman for two seasons. By the end of his tenure in San Diego he would have 134 Saves with a 2.53 ERA as his Padre career line. So far he has been elected to 3 consecutive All-Star games and twice been the NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.  While he does have markedly dominant stats at home in San Diego, his road numbers are still very strong and I'm sure Bell has the intensity to work to make the best of his new home park to continue his success as a closer. After watching for so many seasons Trevor Hoffman's career reaching it's pinnacle I'm confident that Bell will apply the same work ethic and be as dominant for the Marlins.

Mr. Bell was kind enough to autograph both of these 2011 Topps cards that I sent to him at Petco Park. Normally I don't send out multiple cards to players, but the second is a team card of the Padres and I liked his signature celebratory yelling face too much to not include it with my request. Heath's not just quick to the mound as he signed both of the cards and mailed them back to me in only 22 Days during the season.

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