MIAMI -- When the Marlins inked Heath Bell to a three-year deal in the offseason, they thought they were getting a top-tier closer to bolster their bullpen.
Things don't always work out as planned.
Bell struggled throughout the season, converting just 19-of 27 save opportunities, losing his role as closer along the way. Bell's struggles left the Marlins wondering what happened to the closer who was an All-Star from 2009-11 while in San Diego.
"I wish I knew," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said when asked what went wrong with Bell this season. "I think he just had a bad year. His velocity was there, but he didn't throw strikes. That's the way I look at it; maybe he saw something different. He did not command his breaking ball and he got in trouble."
Bell blew his eighth save of the season on Tuesday, when he faced three batters and allowed two hits and a walk as the Marlins saw a three-run eighth-inning lead evaporate. His season ERA climbed to 5.09, more than double what it was with the Padres last year (2.44).
Guillen likened Bell's season to that of slugger Adam Dunn's last year when Guillen was managing Dunn in Chicago. Dunn hit a paltry .159 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs, a year removed from batting .260 with 103 RBIs and belting 38 homers for the second straight season.
Like Bell, Dunn had never dealt with failure quite like that before. Dunn was able to turn it around this season with the White Sox, hitting .204 with 41 home runs and 96 RBIs entering Wednesday's season finale.
"When you got everything easy in your life and all of a sudden you fail one time, you don't know what to do," Guillen said. "Maybe that's what happened to [Bell]. He was so good and all of a sudden, poof, what happened here? He couldn't figure out what happened."