Is it Time For the Cincinnati Reds to Move on From David Bell?

The Cincinnati Reds have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball this year. Is their manager on the hot seat to be let go?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 12: Manager David Bell #25 of the Cincinnati Reds stands on the field prior to a game against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 12, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Rewind to three months ago. The Reds and their young, budding stars were positioned to the break through and compete for a divisional title. Feels as if February were years, not month, ago.

A team depleted by injury has since sunk to a 19-28 record, good for last place in the division with only five major league teams with less wins.

Fans are staring down another disappointing season and have started to point fingers. As most fans do across all sports, the “coach” (manager) gets the brunt of the blame, fair or not. But, does David Bell deserve the blame, or even to be fired?

Who’s to Blame in Cincinnati?

Before I really get into it I want to make a few things clear. First, I do not think managers are as crucial to win/loss as head coaches in other sports. Agree or not, that’s how I feel. Of course, there are decisions that factor into winning or losing, but to a lesser rate of other sports.

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Second, I have been completely indifferent on David Bell. I never really gained any feeling or emotion from the guy after 5+ years of of seeing him manage and listening to him in in post game interviews. Maybe that should say something, but more on that later.

We have to be fair. No manager should be expected to win at a playoff rate after losing three to five regulars from your starting lineup. You have not had your leadoff hitter practically all year, Matt McLain hasn’t played, middle of the lineup bats Noelvi Marte and Christian Encarnacion-Strand are out. You have to work with what you have, which is pretty ugly.

(Front office complaints are for another day)

David Bell has nothing to do with Jeimer Candelario’s slow start or Jonathan India’s inability to beat “one hit wonder” allegations. Due to injury and lackluster depth, Stuart Fairchild has been forced to play against righties where he has slashed .086/.135/.200. He can’t hit, pitch, field, or throw. Ultimately, the play on the field and W/L record has much more to do with the players.

However, putting your players in the best position to succeed and constructing a lineup to give your team the best chance to win falls on Bell.

Batting Will Benson leadoff time after time is an awful decision. His slash line batting leadoff sits at .194/.265/.419 with a nearly 50% strikeout rate. Sure, the Reds do not have a perfect fit for he leadoff position but we also know it’s not Benson.

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A similar story for the recent three-hole decision which has been anchored by Mike Ford.

Ford, a 31-year-old with less than 700 at bats across six seasons, did not make the team out of spring. After spending time in five organizations last season, it was not a surprise. However, after a Nick Martini demotion, Ford was given a chance.

From not good enough, to starting seven out of his 11 games in the three hole. The results – .071/.103/.071. Again, it’s about trying something different more than expecting drastically different results with this roster. Show an ability to correct and adapt.

We could sit here and pick apart not pinch hitting for Benson against a lefty or some bullpen decision for days. Across this many games, you can find errors for all managers. Instead, I want to ask if David Bell has ever changed your mood or emotion about a game or outcome?

When you have heard him speak to the media, has it ever lead to you altering your prior thoughts?

As someone who’s never been in the clubhouse, I want to be careful about assuming anything. I have never been around the guy but from the exposure we are given via media, I think it’s fair to at least discuss the idea of needing a new voice in the clubhouse. How motivating can the same canned message from the same emotionless posture be to a team?

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It is year six of the David Bell era. The Reds are 352-403 with two sub-.500 second half’s in their pair of 80+ win seasons. Whether David Bell is a good manager or not is a perfectly fine discussion to have. Fairly often a coach/manager gets fired when they do not truly deserve to. The team needs a shake up, fresh voice, new motivator. I do not think the Reds will fire Bell just yet. That’s my prediction, not necessarily my personal feelings.

I am not sure how much further this can go. Regardless of the roster at hand, has Bell shown anything in six years that has truly, I mean truly, made you feel like he is 100% the guy moving forward? Last question I’ll leave you with.

Does this team need a change more than it needs David Bell? I’ll let you decide.