When the Orioles acquired Joshua Bell (along with Steve Johnson) in exchange for George Sherrill, it seemed like a potential coup. At the time, Bell was 22 years old and mashing in Double-A to the tune of a .296/.386/.497 line. He stayed in Double-A upon joining the Orioles and continued his earth-scorching ways with a .298/.354/.579 line while hitting 9 homers in 127 plate appearances (he’d hit 11 in 391 with the Dodgers). Needless to say, the Sherrill deal looked a bit silly just months after it was made.
Fast forward to nearly a year later and Sherrill has only pitched 19 innings for the Dodgers this year, and they were horrible innings at that. Some of the shine has worn off Bell too, though, since at Triple-A Norfolk he only hit .266/.311/.455. He still flashed power, with an ISO just less than .190, but his walk-to-strikeout ratio worsened dramatically; from 0.62 last season to 0.24 this season. For perspective on how poor that number is, consider that Adam Jones – the Orioles centerfielder – is pretty horrendous at drawing walks and strikes out a moderate amount of time, and yet, his major league career walk-to-strikeout ratio is 0.24. Which is to say: Bell’s not winning any awards for leading the league in BB/K anytime soon.
Nevertheless, the Orioles promoted Bell today, following a Luke Scott injury. Bell has only played third base this season (along with some DH work) which clashes with the Orioles attempt to make Miguel Tejada into Cal Ripken Jr.; Tejada has started every game but one at third base for Baltimore since April 23. That’s 59 of 60 games and worth noting because Tejada is (A) 36 years old; and (B) hitting for a .307 wOBA. The O’s aren’t playing for a playoff spot … hell; they aren’t even playing for a crack at fourth place. What they are playing for is to mature some of the young talent and ensure the chance to take Anthony Rendon in next June’s draft.
Bell should get most of the starts at third as long as he’s around. The Orioles can always try him out in another corner if they really don’t see him as a major league caliber third baseman, but otherwise there’s no reason to trot Tejada out in the field only to have Bell DH. That plan simply doesn’t make sense for the present or the future.