It's very hard to replace a Gold Glove third baseman, but the Phillies sure found the perfect guy for the job. Bell holds a commanding .963 fielding percentage and already has 54 putouts and 128 assists. To say that he has been a rock at third base is an understatement, and his teammates sure appreciate his effort at the hot corner.
If Bell can somehow come out of this funk that seems to be plaguing many of the Phillies hitters, he would be one of the more complete players on this team. His uncanny defensive play turn hard groundballs that could turn into outfield doubles, into outs, which is a welcomed site after watching the Placido Polanco third base experiment last season. Even though he can play every infield position except first base, third looks like a perfect spot for Bell.
Having a guy like David Bell in the clubhouse is a great benefit for young players like Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Pat Burrell and Marlon Byrd. Each of them, as well as Jason Michaels and Nick Punto can benefit from this veteran's experience and knowledge of what it takes to win. When the Phillies brought him and Jim Thome to this team, the organization built a foundation for solid leadership for the coming years. It will be interesting to watch the aforementioned Rollins, Myers, Burrell, Byrd, Punto and Michaels develop after being around Bell for a couple of seasons.
The Phillies are built to win now. If Bell can turn his season at the plate around and put up the type of numbers he's certainly capable of, he will become even more of an integral part of this ball club. In order to be the leader he's able to be, he must put up those numbers, in order to keep the attention of the youngsters on this team. So on many levels, Bell's turnaround may just be the key to the 2003 season.