Each Monday morning, we’ll ask a few of our authors and friends of the site to answer an important question concerning the Reds. Do you agree with any of our writers? Give us your opinion in the comments section.

Question: What grade would you give manager David Bell after one month and why?

Jeff Gangloff: So far this season, I would give David Bell a grade of a B. Some may think the performance grade of a manager should be based purely on win-loss record, but I don’t believe that. There are times when a team goes through things or where there is a talent disparity that’s completely out of a manager’s control. You’ve seen a little bit of that this year with this Reds team.

That being said – I think one of the biggest hurdles Bell has overcome is the Reds slow start. He’s kept things together relatively well. He’s also shown a willingness to try just about anything to help the team win. From batting Votto leadoff to using Lorenzen in center – his approach and openness to trying different things during the game is refreshing.

Matt Habel: I would give David Bell a B. Batting Votto leadoff earns big time brownie points, even if the batting order doesn’t make that much of a difference. My biggest issue so far is how often he has used Zach Duke in important situations when Duke is clearly not performing well. Overall, Bell seems willing to embrace new and different ideas which is always a good thing. Impossible to say how much of a difference he has made compared to Price or Riggleman, but I certainly feel better about this coaching staff than the ones in years prior.

Bill Lack: Between a B and a B+. I really like that he’s willing to think outside the box (Votto leadoff, Igelsias in non-save situations, no set roles in the BP, lots of defensive shifts that seem to work a lot more often than not) and the team seems to play hard every day. I do wish he had more faith in Winker (who I believe is going to get better and better, given the chance) and wish he had less faith in Duke. I like that he’s quickly developed faith in Stephenson, pitching him in higher leverage situations.

But I do think he is, at times, over-managing…over using the bullpen (which may be a problem as the season lengthens) and the bench. I’m curious to see how much he changes over the course of the season, whether he is learning on the job. Overall though, I’m really happy with what I’ve seen and believe that this team is going to get better and better as the season moves along.

Tom Mitsoff: I give David Bell an A so far, despite the disappointing start. He has done a good job of keeping the team’s collective attitude positive despite a couple of disappointing early losing streaks. He seems to act decisively when it comes time to make a pitching change, which to me means he has already thought through all of the possibilities and knows what options and match-ups are possible. He also takes charge of strategic decisions. An example was when he pinch-hit Phillip Ervin for Jesse Winker. In the past, that would not have been a consideration because Winker is a starting player. Bell has set an atmosphere in which all ideas are possible. Michael Lorenzen has expressed his appreciation that the management finally has been willing to consider his full skill set.

John Ring: I would give David Bell a “B” for right now. My two biggest issues with him are his stubbornness in sticking with Kemp and Schebler and his overall lack of fire and intensity as the Cincinnati Reds manager. Give me more Lou Piniella or Dave Bristol. On the positive side, I like his creativity with the lineup, management of the bullpen and he didn’t panic after those eight straight losses early in the season. If the Reds split those games, they’re in the mix right now.

27 Responses

  1. Steven Ross

    At best C. A creative lineup is one thing but one which doesn’t make sense is rolled out way too often. I guess we have no other options in CF except Schebler. Giving Ervin more of an opportunity is overdue.

  2. Armo 21

    Really? The starting pitching has been a huge improvement over last season. Statistics bear this point. Jose Iglesias, Dietrich, Puig are very good MLB players to go with last year’s position core. Winker and Schebler missed a lot of the season last year and are finding their way. Peraza, Votto and Suarez are showing to be slow starters to the season. Unless you are just trolling, the authors above give a fair and IMHO accurate assessment to David Bell’s start as Manager. Taking issue with the team/ownership is just a cheap shot in this comment section. Bell has remade the coaching staff and gotten commitment from ownership, he is finding his way as Manager and really building a foundation for the analytics era in Cincinnati. I grade him B+ for the first month. All due respect John Ring, I loved Lou Piniella but that style of manager is long gone in today’s game.

    • James Vincent

      lol what? The offenses is getting its butt kicked every night and you guys think this guy’s a decent manager. riggleman had no problem scoring runs because he actually put up a lineup that made sense. this shows you how blind Sabre people can truly be. Billy Hamilton has scored more runs than anybody on our team. put some speed at the top of the lineup so guys can actually get in scoring position. all the on base in the world doesn’t help you if you can get them in

  3. indydoug

    John Ring–he has been ejected twice

  4. Adrian

    Eh. Outside of the improbable 1-8 start, the Reds have been playing .555 baseball. 10-8 doesn’t sound too sexy, but over the course of an entire season it’s 90-72; the Reds obviously can’t do that just by keeping pace w/their last 18 games, since they had that losing streak to start the year. But if they were to go .555 the rest of the way (the equivalent of going 10-8 in every 18-game chunk) they would finish 86-76. I think the team is significantly better than the 60-some-odd win teams of the past few years. They aren’t world-beaters yet, but they are better.

    • Eric Wormus

      The problem I have with the “they aren’t great yet but maybe better than last year” line of thinking is…so what? So this team wins 75 games instead of losing 90+ again. The 2020 roster is going to look so vastly different from this one that it’s going to require another entire overhaul this winter. 68 wins, 75 wins, 80 wins. Whatever. It’s a bad team that has been run incompetently for the better part of 15 years. The faces and names change but the results stay the same.

    • Scott

      I don’t get this line of thinking. How many wins the REDS get matters to me. I dont buy into the thinking that if you aren’t going to win the WS or get in the playoffs it doesn’t matter how many wins you get. May as well lose all 162. I’m tired of watching this team lose 95 games. If they win 81 and don’t make the playoffs, that is better than 95+ losses in my book. Who wants to play for a 95+ loser? Who wants to come to a 95+ loser?
      Guess I am old school.

  5. Scott C

    Personally I would give him an A- to a B+. I do think he over uses the bullpen but on the other hand you have to try to win today because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Trying to “save” the bullpen is to some degree a false assumption.
    I also agree that he used Duke too often in critical situations and overplayed Kemp. Both players have seen their better days and really have no place on a rebuilding team.

    • JayTheRed

      I am with everyone else Duke should not be used during important innings. I don’t mind if they want him to be a reliever that mops up at the end. Maybe it would give him a message hey look you do good at this and we won’t cut you off the team.

      I am not against using Kemp for say 2 or 3 starts a week. Though if Scheb doesn’t start hitting soon I think he may have to get demoted. He doesn’t look comfortable at the plate at all. Can’t wait for Senzel to be given a chance.

  6. David

    There are a lot of things you could criticize and praise David Bell for. But the slow start may have a link to the team being prepared coming out of Spring Training.

    Of course, Spring Training Means Nothing, according to many. But I did not think he played the regulars enough towards the end of Spring Training, and the team did not look sharp (and still does not look sharp) in terms of executing fundamentals.

    Zack Duke, Matt Kemp…..blah, blah, blah. He has played guys and changed the line up. They still are not scoring or hitting with any consistency, and frankly may not be a good offensive team this year. The pitching has overall been better than expected. Bob Stephenson has probably been the biggest surprise.

    At what point in time do you ask the hitting coach what he is doing? Labor Day?

  7. SultanofSwaff


    The dugout is finally in lockstep with the front office on lineups, positioning, and matchups. That’s HUGE. More to the point, I can’t think of any instances of Bell bowing to veteran privilege in his managing—that was a huge problem for this organization under Price.

    • David

      I think that is a very good point. I don’t know about “lockstep”, but I think there is better co-ordination between the Front Office strategy in terms of personnel and the way David Bell runs the club day to day. This has actually been absent since the days of Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty.

    • David

      Zach Duke is on the roster. I don’t think Bell is a foolish or dumb. He will continue to give Zach Duke opportunities to get his game together, and maybe he will.
      At some point in time, the Front Office will make a roster change and get rid of Duke if they feel he is just wasting their time.
      I personally think he is ineffective because he just isn’t that good anymore. Which is a reason to let him go.

    • James Vincent

      seriously anybody that runs out of players in the 8th inning should lose their job. Derrick Johnson has been nothing short of remarkable. is mix of Common Sense and Analytics is refreshing where is David Bell is just completely dependent on his numbers and shows zero confidence

  8. Adrian

    I would give him a B. So much of what’s important in a manager’s job lies with preparing the team, managing egos, keeping people motivated; i.e. stuff that is difficult to measure (the only guy I’ve seen manage it is Russell Carleton, formerly of BPro).

    The batting order, pitching changes, arguing calls, challenging calls…these things can add up to a few wins over the course of a season, which can be critical if you’re in a dogfight for the division crown, but maybe not so much otherwise.

    And then you have the fact that a manager is usually judged not so much on any of the things in the first two groups, as on straight-up wins and losses. And while in some ways that isn’t fair, ultimately that is the goal and if the results aren’t there…

    However, with David Bell it is still early, and there are signs the Reds season will continue to get more positive as the season goes on (though it’s unlikely to get so positive as to send them to the playoffs). I think he has a tough act to juggle on the intangibles front, balancing Kemp (who has been awful) and his big salary and veteran status, Schebler (who is younger but who has been just as awful), Puig (better than the first two, but a big salary and big personality) and Winker (not as good as we’d like from a BA perspective or OBP, but the power has been crazy on point and his defense has been an improvement, to my eyes anyway) in the outfield.

    I think for the most part his in-game decisions and lineup choices have been, at worst, a wash, and at best he’s done a bit better than average (the lineup construction has been pretty creative and mostly quite good).

    The wins aren’t there yet, though, and while it looks like the Reds should be able to climb out of the hole at some point this year, I can’t give him an A without the results, even if that isn’t entirely fair.

    • Doc

      Isn’t Winker hitting something like .320 over his last 10+ games? Offensively he seems back on track. Defensively maybe he is on his personal track, but I can’t fault him for not getting to a ball down the LF line when he was positioned in an extreme shift. However, that, too, is part of the Bell learning curve; how much capability does each player have.

      Duke, Kemp and Schebler are my biggest gripes, which also means Ervin getting essentially no chances since being called up as a secondary consequence gripe. Bell found starts for all four OF when Kemp was one of the four, but somehow hasn’t found Ervin a start as one of the four despite Schebler’s persistent struggles.

  9. Nate

    I’d like to give him an A because of the starting pitching improvement and getting tossed for standing up for his players. But how he uses Duke takes it down to a B and the offensive struggles take it down to a B-. I’m encouraged but want to see some more runs cross the plate because of solid hitting not just home runs.

  10. Optimist

    Incomplete, but trending to an A.

    Seems the FO and field staff are finally coordinated, but let’s see that continue for 1/2 a season before grading.

    Same for in-game moves, but I’m all for letting the short-term/old guys/trade candidates (Kemp/Duke/Hughes/etc) show if there’s anything there. Make the FO do it’s job about the failures.

    He didn’t lose focus or panic after the 7 game skid, and he still needs to manage to next year – we’ll see how that works with the coming changes – Scooter/Senzel/the Sept. call ups.

    It’s an A if he can avoid a tailspin after the mid-season trades – otherwise a B so long as he keeps setting up for next year (i.e. Winker plays in all the September games).

  11. Big Ed

    I think it’s too early in the semester to be handing out grades. Bell over-manages a bit, but he’s done some good things since the 1-8 start. Let’s wait until he can play a couple dozen games with a full crew (i.e., Senzel in center), before we start grading him. It isn’t his fault that Williams handed him a useless Matt Kemp or that Scott Schebler fizzled out.

    Meanwhile, today is the 36th anniversary of the Epic Rant of Lee Elia. “I’ll tell you one [expletive deleted] thing, I hope we get [expletive deleted] hotter than [expletive deleted], just to stuff it up them 3,000 [expletive deleted] people that show up every [expletive deleted] day, because if they’re the real Chicago [expletive deleted] fans, they can kiss my [double expletive deleted] right downtown and PRINT IT. ” And so on, for several minutes. I never did understand exactly how and who downtown was going to “print” his being kissed, but then the Germans didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor, either.

    Bell is not anywhere close to being that frustrated.

  12. Chris Holbert

    He has tinkered way too much with the lineup. I’m not sure Votto should be hitting lead-off, although you are only a true lead-off hitter once in the game. Peraza has proven he can hit, and should probably be given the opportunity to hit out of his start. Dietrich was available late in spring training for a reason. I remember in the past years surprising veterans, Gosselin, Pennington, starting the season well, then flaming out. Schebler is not an everyday player, and never really has proven to be since they got him. It is time to start the Senzel era. He cannot do worse, both in the field and at the plate. The outfield defense is already average and he will not make it worse. Duke needs to go and give a AAA lefty a chance, again, how can they be worse. Gio Gonzalez was available, if the front office was serious, I think he could have probably helped and have been gotten relatively inexpensively. Ervin deserves to be on the team. It is time to cut bait with Kemp and move on with Winler, Senzel, and Puig, with Schebler and Ervin as 4th and 5th. Then the bench becomes Ervin, Schebler, Dietrich and Casali/Barnhart. The offense from the catchers is another topic. Casali seems to always be on-base.

  13. cartel

    I think the key here is rookie manager. For just starting, I think he has been exceptional. If he continues to improve, this maybe the best hire in a long time…

  14. Jeff

    You guys are pretty generous graders. Somehow I can see you guys giving Bell an A- if we lose a Hundo. Is being on Castellini’s payroll a conflict-of-interest? ????????

  15. Bill J

    Agree with WVredlegs. Some over use of the BP.

  16. TR

    A ‘B’. I like the way he interacts with his coaches during the game and, like a lot of managers, doesn’t stay alone in the dugout. When Senzel is here, I hope Bell uses a more regular lineup with others is defined utility roles. I think a bit more letting starting pitchers work out of situations before the 7th. inning, at least, without calling on the bullpen would be a positive.

  17. warren

    finally a grade I agree with when I buy a ticket to the game its to see them win not to make it close

  18. James Vincent

    Maybe if you wouldn’t have power guys at the top of the line up speed guys at the bottom they would score. Jose Peraza spend his entire life learning to hit at the top of the line up Just Like Jesse Winker spent his entire life learning to drive in runs.

  19. James Vincent

    given he’s a rookie manager I would give him a D instead of an F I guess. I really don’t give a crap how long he’s managed I want to see wins and that’s all I care about. Between the portable pain management and the atrocious lineups I don’t see how anybody can grade him better. They did the same stupid crap last year. They tried to manage a four-man Outfield and it did not work. as soon as someone got hurt everybody started hitting. Last year the offense was good and I understand maybe some amount of tinkering to try to make that better. However when you’re completely failing you may want to look at what was successful to people before you. if they simply just copied riggleman’s lineups they would have more success