Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dodgers bring back former prospect Josh Bell, and I'm excited about it?

I shouldn't be this excited for a non-roster invitee, but I find myself really liking the Josh Bell signing the Dodgers made on Monday.

Bell, 27, was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2005 MLB Draft. He made the usual stops in his development, culminating in 2009 with Double-A Chattanooga. Bell hit .296/.386/.497 with 11 home runs and 30 doubles. At age-22, that was rather impressive.

But he didn't remain with the Dodgers. He was shipped off to Baltimore with Steve Johnson for George Sherrill. In fact, it was one of my first handful of posts on this blog. Here's what a younger, dumber me had to say about it.
"On the surface, this looks like a good, even trade. However, the Blue Jays were said to be interested in Bell in a potential Halladay package. Unless the Dodgers also acquire Halladay by 1 p.m. tomorrow, this trade will look a lot worse. I don't believe Dodger GM Ned Colletti would blow a chance to get Halladay by trading Bell for a reliever, so there's still hope, I suppose."
That was the gist of the post. Even I forgot it was that short. If this kind of trade were made today, I'd have a completely different opinion about it. Good thing the Dodgers just re-signed J.P. Howell.

Turns out, it wasn't a good trade for the Dodgers. While Bell didn't go onto exactly tear up the league, they sold short on a power-hitting third base prospect for a lefty reliever who was terrible in his time in LA.

But back to Bell. I have this strange, irrational feeling he's going to make some noise in spring training -- more noise than the likes of Nick Evans and Dallas McPherson (hat tip to Chris Jackson). I guess I'm putting a lot of misplaced faith in Mark McGwire. Not because McGwire isn't good at his job, but because Bell has never lived up to his potential.

Bell looked like he might be a GUY in 2010 when he debut with the Orioles. The overall numbers didn't look great -- .214/.224/.302 -- but one game stood out to me.

It was Aug. 21, 2010, in Baltimore on FOX Saturday Baseball. The Orioles were facing Cliff Lee and the Rangers. Bell was in the starting lineup. He came up with a man on in the third inning. Batting right-handed -- his worse of the two sides -- against Lee, he crushed a home run to center field. It was a no-doubter. I was excited to see it sail over the wall. Then, Bell came up in the fourth inning and clubbed a 2-run home run to right-center field -- again off Lee. It was mighty impressive.

Yes, it's the smallest of sample sizes, but Bell flashed the potential that made him a Top-5 prospect in the system at one time.

Bell made stops with the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Yankees following his stint with the Orioles. The only big league appearances he had were with Arizona in 2012.

I'm sure you've stopped reading by now, as who wants to read much about a career .195/.223/.265 hitter? But I have some kind of feeling about him. The Dodgers need backup infielders in the worst way, and they definitely need someone to prevent the recently re-signed Juan Uribe from playing in more than 140 games. Odds are extremely against Bell from doing something he hasn't been able to do in his career to this point -- be a quality major leaguer.

This is just another case of me gloming onto a former Dodger prospect because he was a former Dodger prospect (Hi, Franklin Gutierriez!). But if Bell somehow breaks camp with the team, I'll definitely refer back to this post. But he's even more likely to be among the first cuts in March.

Stranger things have happened, and the Dodgers have employed some questionable third basemen in the past. But if Bell could somehow be the power-hitting third baseman the Dodgers need (as a backup), that would be awesome. Odds of that happening: 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent.

Having said all that, I'm sure he'll be released in a couple weeks, making this post all for naught.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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