The Giants claimed Heath Bell on waivers. The literalist in me likes to think that Brian Sabean scaled Bell's midsection and planted a Giants flag in his navel, claiming him for the Giants. That probably didn't happen. Probably. But the idea is that the Giants claimed him, and they have a day or so to work out some sort of trade with the Padres.
It's likely that the Giants just didn't want the Diamondbacks to get Bell, so the claim is a blocking claim. In a best-case scenario with the Diamondbacks claiming and trading for Bell, they'd give up all sorts of top prospects ... who would just go to another divisional rival. The Diamondbacks would be better now, and the Padres would be better off for the future. Lose/lose. So even if the Giants had absolutely no interest in Heath Bell, they'd be smart to claim him and then send all of Jed Hoyer's calls straight to voice mail for the next two days.
But Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo have elbows of liquid fire right now. Ramon Ramirez was the reliever sent into the ninth inning of a tie game last night, and the results were dismal. What was a strength is now a bit of a weakness, and the Giants don't exactly have room for any more weaknesses to start popping up. There might be a sense of urgency to improve the bullpen.
There's talk that the Padres would want prospect(s) who would be more valuable than two compensatory draft picks they're in line for at the end of the year. I'm not sure about that, though, because the new CBA could eliminate those draft picks, and Bell has also said that he wouldn't mind accepting arbitration with the Padres, which would hose their budget and plans for extra picks. There's a risk for the Padres to just hang on and wait for the draft picks.
The Giants with Heath Bell would be a better team. But for a month-and-a-half, he wouldn't make them a better team by much. The difference between Bell and Ramon Ramirez is, last night notwithstanding, far less than you might think. Even awful closers convert saves about 75% of the time, and there just aren't enough games left in the season to make a substantial difference.
I'm doubtful the Giants and Padres will make a deal. But I'm terrified that they will, that it will be based around Eric Surkamp, and that the lefty will be getting the Giants out on 390-foot fly balls and strike outs for the next decade. Ramirez picked an amazingly bad time to lose a game -- not only did it cost the Giants a game in the standings, but it also got them thinking about the "need" for a super-proven closer. Also, I was at the game. That stunk.
Claiming Bell is most likely standard operating procedure for August. But after the two win-now trades at the deadline, I'm worried that the Giants will make another one so that the previous two weren't a big ol' waste. Nervous times, for sure.
Ah, screw it. Lineup for tomorrow:
CF - Coco Crisp
2B - Ben Zobrist
3B - David Wright
1B - Jim Thome
C - Pablo Sandoval
RF - Michael Cuddyer
SS - Ian Desmond
LF - Aubrey Huff/Jason Bay platoon
Closer: Heath Bell
Get 'em all. Who cares that our top prospect would be Steve Edlefsen? Win now, baby. Win now.