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MLB WINTER MEETINGS


December 5, 2011


Larry Beinfest

Heath Bell


DALLAS, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you all for being here.  I just want to welcome the newest member of the Miami Marlins, Heath Bell.  We'll start with some comments from President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest followed by questions from Heath and then we'll open it up for questions.
LARRY BEINFEST:¬† Obviously very excited to announce the signing of Heath Bell.¬† He's our new closer, three‑year contract, an option for a fourth year.¬† And before I start, I want to welcome Heath's wife Nicole, Heath's parents who are here today, welcome to the Miami Marlins via Dallas.¬† We recognize the importance of having somebody that can lock down the ninth inning, and I think it's a component of championship teams.¬† I think we've had some terrific closers over the years, but none of them come with the credentials that Heath comes to us with, 40‑plus saves over the past three years, three‑time All‑Star, and we know firsthand how tough he is when it comes to closing the ninth inning.
Hopefully this is our first and hopefully not the last component of what we think is going to be a terrific team in our new ballpark.  I want to take a moment and thank our owner Jeffrey Loria, who's here, who stepped up and wanted to make sure that Heath was a Miami Marlin, and because of his efforts he is.
With that, congratulations, Heath.  We'll turn it over to you.  We look forward to seeing you in the ninth inning.
HEATH BELL:  Just want to thank God first and I want to thank my parents for believing in me and my father teaching me how to play, and especially my wife for being with me all those nights in the Minor Leagues and stuff like that.
Definitely also want to thank Jeffrey and the Miami Marlins for giving me this opportunity to come to a great city and a great new ballpark and just letting me go out there and pitch in the ninth inning and maybe sometimes the eighth inning.  I'm just really excited to be here and hugely honored.  Let's go play.

Q.  Why is this a good time to be going to the Miami Marlins?
HEATH BELL:¬† I think this is a great time for Miami because you've got a new team as the Miami Marlins.¬† We're going to be in Miami, the city of Miami, right?¬† I'm not sure if it was a county.¬† Brand new stadium.¬† There's a lot of buzz in Miami.¬† I lived in Florida near West Palm Beach for‑‑ actually we just moved to San Diego two years ago, but I lived there the past eight years before that and they always wanted a new stadium, Florida did.¬† I think Miami is the perfect place for it, and there's just a lot of buzz about the Miami Marlins.¬† You can see the ownership, they want to go in, they're building this stadium and they want to go out and get key guys and put a great organization together not just for this year but for many years on.

Q.  If it materializes that you and José are reunited, you were with the Mets together, what would that be like, and is it weird that New York is losing the free agents and a city like Miami is getting them?
HEATH BELL:  I don't know if it's them losing, but I think it's going to be pretty fun to play with José again.  He's a tremendous shortstop, great guy.  If Hanley moves over to third base and Reyes is at shortstop, basically I could let every ball hit to that side, and they'll pretty much field it, clean it and throw it to first.  I'm excited to play for them, and looking forward to going to Spring Training and learning some pickoff moves, so watch out if you're going to second.

Q.  Obviously the Marlins are looking to improve their roster and bring in veteran guys.  You're the first one.  What was the biggest sell?
HEATH BELL:  Just talking to the owner Jeffrey.  He really wants to win and he knows exactly what he wants and he's not just going with Marquis names or this or that.  He has a plan, and it just seemed like he was going to be aggressive and he was going to go after his plan.
For me, when I heard Miami was interested in me, I got a big smile on my face because they've got a brand new stadium.¬† I've heard nothing but great things about the ownership there.¬† It was just‑‑ I don't know what else I can say.¬† I think it was just the ownership was great.

Q.  Can you talk about your time in San Diego and what that opportunity meant for you and maybe what your legacy might be there?
HEATH BELL:  San Diego was great for me.  You know, I struggled with the Mets.  I came over to San Diego, they gave me a real opportunity to pitch every day and go from the sixth inning to seventh inning to setup man then eventually to closer.  They gave me the opportunity.  The coaching staff is great over there, the guys, the teammates, everybody.  Going to miss them, but I'm really happy to be a Marlin right now.  I've just got to say thank you to San Diego for giving me the opportunity that they did and basically to show my talents, and now the city of Miami.

Q.  How much of a difference and impact did having the new stadium play in your ability to expand your revenues based on this deal and the other one expected to be announced and how long were you saving up for this opportunity?
LARRY BEINFEST:  Well, I think it's a better question for the man sitting in front of you.  But we've been waiting a long time.  I think our revenue struggles have been well documented playing in a fastball stadium, and I know Jeffrey has worked diligently for ten years to try to secure this building.
What we're able to do now is we're able to look in areas that we haven't been able to look into in the past, an All‑Star free agent closer for example and we're going to enjoy the revenues in the new ballpark that we haven't been able to in our current situation.
It's a little different time for us.  We've basketball waiting a long time for this, we've about competitive teams, but hopefully we can turn the corner and get back to where we want to be, which is in October.  It's been a while, and it's time for this organization to play October baseball.

Q.¬† How much did the new stadium, was it 80 percent, 90 percent‑‑
LARRY BEINFEST:  I don't know that it's a percentage.  Once the shovel went in the ground, obviously working with Jeffrey, we've had a pretty good idea of where we were going to head three years ago now when the construction started.  We knew about our young corps, the Logan Morrisons and the Mike Stantons and the Hanley Ramirezes and how we might be able to build around them.  Execution of a plan was not a problem because we had a plan in place, and we've done a lot of work obviously on proformas and revenues and things to know what we can do, and ultimately Jeffrey makes those decisions.
But from the baseball side, for Mike and I specifically, when we talk to clubs and we talk to free agents, it's a different day for us because we're able to explore things that we haven't been able to explore in the past.

Q.  You were the subject of a lot of trade speculation over the last couple years in San Diego.  Talk about the feeling now of knowing where you're going to be the next three to four years.
HEATH BELL:  It's awesome.  The thing is, trades are just a bunch of rumors and stuff, just like this winter rumors of what team was going after you, this and that, I just told my agents to just call me when something is serious.  And rumors were kind of the same thing at the trade deadline.  Didn't really listen to it much.
Past couple years, I got most of my info from the trade rumors from my mother and friends calling my wife or me.¬† We didn't really pay attention to it.¬† It was more like, mom is calling, she's going to tell me what team I'm going to this time.¬† No, I'm happy that I know where I'm going to be for the next three to four years, and it's‑‑ it's a great feeling knowing that my kids can wear this jersey and these hats for the next three or four years, maybe even longer.

Q.  When Albert Pujols came in for a visit and C.J. Wilson and José Reyes and Mark Buehrle received a lot of attention.  Did you come down there and see the ballpark, and if you did, how did you get through unnoticed?
HEATH BELL:¬† I'm sneaky.¬† I came down and saw the ballpark just a couple days ago when I passed my physical.¬† I've got four kids, three of them are in school.¬† You know, I'm kind of an old‑school kind of guy.¬† I don't need to be wined and dined.¬† But you know, Miami talked to us about a month ago and I was pretty happy about it, and just going about my business until things were official.¬† I know it was on the buzz of Twitter the last couple days, and I didn't really announce anything because nothing was official.
You know, I really don't say anything.¬† I don't get‑‑ when my family comes out during the summer, I don't get excited until that day of just because it's not going to happen until that day.¬† I just‑‑ you know, I don't know.¬† It was just one of those things. ¬†It's a beautiful stadium, for one.¬† Went down there.¬† I think you should really come out because it's nothing like you've ever seen before.¬† I was blown away from it.
And then going out, we went out‑‑ Jeffrey and a couple of the other front office guys, we went out to lunch, had a good lunch, good talk, and yeah, I was pleased and happy to be there.¬† You know, the media buzz and all that stuff, that's‑‑ other guys can do that.¬† I want the ball and give me the ball and let's go play.

Q.  Larry, you've come to the winter meetings a lot of years with no money to spend, having to trade away Josh Beckett and having to trade away Miguel Cabrera.  What's it like coming to the winter meetings knowing you have money in the checking account and you can go after big names at big dollars?
LARRY BEINFEST:¬† It is a little different.¬† I remember some of those deals.¬† You know, we did what we needed to do to remain competitive, to spend to our revenues, etcetera.¬† We just moved on and never really gave it a lot of thought, and I'm not sure I've given a lot of thought to being able to explore, like I said earlier, some of the things that we haven't been able to explore in the past.¬† It is a lot of fun.¬† It's just part of the whole energy behind the organization right now.¬† We're at our drives in the office, the new ballpark, new players, new uniforms, the whole package.¬† So this winter meetings is different for us.¬† We're very excited.¬† We're kicking it off‑‑ we just got off the plane two hours ago and now we're here with Heath.¬† We're continuing to work hard.¬† It is different than it has been in past years, but our goal is the same, to put the best team on the field and getting to October.¬† So it didn't matter if we were running a lower payroll or higher payroll, our goal remains the same, and that's to get to the playoffs, and hopefully we're heading down that road.

Q.  More on pitching, what Heath obviously brings to the back end of the bullpen, and does this help you put the rest of the bullpen in order and what do you think he does in terms of the roles being established going from starters to the ninth inning?
LARRY BEINFEST:  When we spent some time with Heath on the VIP tour and the lunch that we spent quite a bit of time, the one thing that really impressed us is not only does he want to get the save and close down the game and a win for us is we thought he'd be a terrific influence on our bullpen.  We think we have a lot of good arms.  Our bullpen improved dramatically last year.  We think he'll make it even better but we've some young guys that are still emerging and he really seemed interested in helping them grow and being a unit, and he'll be the leader of the unit down there.  It was a big attraction to us to bring in a guy that not only has the experience, obviously the ultimate confidence to get the job done, but what he can do for the rest of our pitching staff, specifically the bullpen.

Q.  With all your transactions here, I haven't done the exact math, but I think your payroll last year was around $50 million.  Is that about right?
LARRY BEINFEST:  We're here to talk about Heath.

Q.  Anyway, with these transactions so far, you're getting up around $75 million with the forthcoming thing tomorrow.  Is it realistic to think that you guys could double your payroll this year or is that a reach?
LARRY BEINFEST:  Again, we've obviously had a number of discussions with Jeffrey.  I don't really want to get into payroll today.  I'm going to skirt your question a little bit.  We haven't made a bunch of transactions.  We've signed Heath and we traded for Wade LeBlanc.  So we haven't done a lot.  I know there's a lot of rumors out there and hopefully we will be doing more.  There's no question the payroll is going up or else we would not be here today.  We have been revenue challenged in the past and that's translated into payroll and the payroll is going up.  Where that lands is ultimately up to Jeffrey, but we're interesting in securing good players, great players in some instances to help us win our division and hopefully get to October, and that's our goal.

Q.  Just following up on your answer a little bit, you have Heath Bell sitting next to you, José Reyes' name is in reports, Albert Pujols.  What light can you shed on what you might be doing this week and what the team could look like by the end of the winter meetings?
LARRY BEINFEST:  We're going to be like the other 29 teams, we're going to have our meetings with agents and with other clubs, and we would like to improve our starting pitching depth is something we've been out front with.  Obviously we've got the back end of the bullpen in great shape and I know that our starting pitchers we have right now in tow are going to be very comfortable knowing if they exit the game they're going to get a win.  I know there's been a lot written, a lot said, a lot of rumors out there.  It's very different for us.  For those of you that know me and Mike, we try to keep things quiet and do things under the radar so it's been a little uncomfortable in that respect.  We'll see what happens.  We've been very aggressive, we'll continue to be aggressive, and we just want to make the club better.

Q.¬† At what point did you guys maybe determine that you wanted to look at some big‑time closer options maybe relative to the issues that you have with your ex‑closer?
LARRY BEINFEST:  Yeah, the closer formerly known as Leo Nunez obviously did a great job for us.  There is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding his situation.  He's now known as J.C. Oviedo and he did a great job for us.  But when you have an opportunity to bring in, we think, the closer in the National League, the guy who has done it, it just wasn't an opportunity that this organization wanted to let go.  And Jeffrey was very aggressive with the baseball operations department and with Sam and Seth Levinson, Heath's representatives, to try to get this deal done.  It's not often that you can get the guy, and this was an opportunity to get the guy.  I will say, because I know the question is coming, what is going to happen with Juan Carlos Oviedo, we're just not sure.  We're working through that process.  Again, I'll make my answer short.  Our intentions as of today are to tender him and work through the process with immigration, and we will go from there.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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