When the All-Star Game wraps up on Tuesday night, we'll still have to wait a few days for meaningful baseball to start back up.
We won't have to wait for meaningful baseball chatter to get going, however. The non-waiver trade deadline is less than three weeks away and every contender in the game will be looking to round out their rosters in advance of the stretch run. The Rangers are one of those teams and they got some good news on that front on Monday.
Heath Bell, the All-Star closer for the Padres, spoke with reporters in Phoenix about the trade talks that have been going on about him all year long. Bell is a free agent after the season, the Padres are going nowhere fast this year and Bell can do the math. He acknowledged that he's likely to be dealt and said that he's not going to be upset if he gets traded to a team that already has a closer.
"If you’ve got a closer and want me to be the eighth-inning guy, I’ll be the eighth-inning guy," Bell said. "If the other guy is better than me, we’re going to have a heck of a bullpen."
Neftali Feliz might not be better than Bell, but he's living in the same neighborhood and putting the two of them together would make life around the Rangers a lot less exciting. The nightly roulette wheel of which reliever to choose and resulting holding of breath that come with the current Texas bullpen would go away as Ron Washington would simply push buttons come the eighth inning. No one ever said a lack of excitement was a negative.
Bell also said he wants to be a closer again when he signs with a team for the 2012 season, something that makes sense and something that should also pique the Rangers' interest. If they still harbor hopes of moving Feliz to the rotation, Bell would make a mighty fine replacement in the closer role next season.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, though. Matching up on a deal with the Padres isn't a sure thing and other contenders -- Phillies, Yankees, Cardinals -- will certainly be interested in seeing what it would take to bring Bell to their team.
For now, we'll say that it is hard to imagine a better option than Bell coming on the market for what the Rangers need to fill the biggest current hole on their roster.