In 2013 Vince Belnome came to the Bulls from San Diego system. Only 25 years old at the time he seemed to have everything going for him. Here’s what we said about him at the end of that year:
Vince Belnome was the all-around star of the 2013 Bulls. If his performance fell off a bit in the last few weeks of the season, he still had a career year and deserved the accolades he accumulated (All-Star, MVP). He led the team regulars in virtually every category and his importance shows through in his superb wOBA and wRAA stats. At the beginning of the year he played some 3B and even some 2B, but by the end he was essentially the Bulls regular first baseman, although he shared some time with Shelley Duncan. Belnome is only 25 years old, so going forward will certainly depend on his fit with the Rays, not the Bulls. He made a difference to the Bulls. Sure wouldn’t hurt to have him back.
For Bulls fans, he was joining a grand tradition of players like Chris Richard and Dan Johnson, although he was younger than those two. We thought he would likely not be back. But he did make it back for 2014.
The next year, 2014. wasn't nearly as good for him, although he did start the year with his one and only callup to the Rays. In addition his numbers, while down from 2013, were still strong and he played in a lot of games for a winning team.
Vince Belnome (118 games) had a very disappointing year, although things picked up near the end. He never looked very comfortable at the plate and was nothing like the star we watched in 2013, where his numbers eclipsed anyone’s on this year’s team by far. What the Rays (and the Bulls) are going to have to figure out is whether 2013 or 2014 should be the expectation. Mr. Belnome did get his first callup this year, appearing in 4 games with the Rays and picking up a double and an RBI. Will he stay on the 40-man? Hard to say. At a guess, the Rays are going to give the 26 year-old another year.
This year has not been good at all. He was DFA’d in the spring, has not played much at all, and has been stuck well below a .200 batting average most of the season. In some ways we have been waiting for this shoe to drop for several weeks.
Now he has been released to make room for a player the Rays want to keep in waiting, Grady Sizemore.
Where does he go from here? No way for an outsider to know. We have to think that there’s something not quite right physically, but the Rays are notoriously tight-lipped about that.
So let’s take a moment to simply appreciate what he did for the Bulls while he was with the team. The Bulls won a ton of ball games in 2013 and 2014. They brought Bulls fans a lot of pleasure. Vince Belnome was a part of those memories and we certainly want to thank him for them. Plus, he’s young. There’s every chance he’ll land with another team and return to his previous form. I certainly hope so. I’d like to see him stay in the game so we can all say that we saw him play as a Durham Bull.
Good luck, Vince. Thanks.