The Redlegs had a rough week, but there are far more positives than negatives, if you can believe it. Steer and Friedl and Fraley and India are playing great, and the Big Three starters are mostly looking pretty great. Sure, there’s the bullpen…but maybe they’re not as bad as we think? Nate and I have a great time breaking down everything from the most recent week of Cincinnati Reds baseball.

Also, Nate has a particularly hot take about Cincinnati’s manager, David Bell.

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60 Responses

  1. LDS

    Fire Bell. Sounds like a winning strategy. I prefer reading to listening. It’s a time thing. But since you guys were hitting on one of my favorite topics… Everyone admits the Castellini group needs to go. But I’m amazed by the number of folks here on RLN that continue to tout David Bell. Good job guys.

    • greenmtred

      Nobody is “touting” Bell. Disagreeing with your particular brand of tunnel vision and fixation, maybe.

      • LarkinPhillips

        Greenmtred: You are always quick to come to Bell’s defense, so I would like to hear your side. (respectfully of course.) Do you think David Bell is a quality MLB manager? If so, what does he need to win a championship or a playoff game? Everyone agrees last year and this year he is definitely drawing a short straw on roster due to ownership.

      • Jim t

        @LarkinPhillips because of the lack of commitment from Ownership I really don’t have enough data to give an opinion on if Bell is a good manager or not. The players seem to enjoy playing for but that hasn’t translated into many wins. I’m at the point that if I advocate for his firing without a change of ownership I feel I would be cheating myself as a fan. Oh and I have been a fan since the late 1950’s

      • Amarillo

        @LarkinPhillips It’s not about whether he is good manager. It’s just not the manager’s fault every time a reliever gives up a run, or every time a pinch hitter makes an out. Even the best managers don’t don’t add many wins in a season over an average one, and I do think he is an average manager. Certainly better than Bryan Price.

      • LarkinPhillips

        Thanks for the response Jim. And that’s awesome that you have been a Reds fan for 70+ years. I hope I am that lucky one day. Only 30+ years for me.

        Ownership sucks. I agree. However, I would argue that Bell was given a lineup/team that should have competed in 2020 and 2021. We snuck into the playoffs in 2020 (crazy year) and collapsed down the stretch in 2021. Despite other terrible rosters in history, last year was the 2nd worst in franchise history (based on total losses). So to me, even with a decent roster, David Bell is not the manager I want. I dislike his style of managing and his communication style in interviews (these are personal preferences and mean little in the grand scheme.)

        I do see your point of not having enough “data” to make a complete decision and understand why you would rather advocate for a change of ownership. Personally, I would rather a change of ownership and manager.

      • LarkinPhillips

        @Amarillo, There are definitely people who blame Bell for everything. I am not one of those. Is better than Price really the standard for what we want as a Reds manager?

      • greenmtred

        I’m not defending Bell so much as disagreeing with the view that a manager can overcome a weak roster, a lousy bullpen, a plague of injuries to key players. I don’t know whether Bell is a “good” manager because I believe the answer is hard to discern. Commenters here cite either the team’s record–virtually meaningless without consideration of the ability of the players–or the fact that they disagree with his in-game decisions; such reasoning does not persuade me at all. We don’t have access to the detailed information about players and match-ups that he has, nor do we have the opportunity to consult with the coaches and players themselves. Then there’s the process: criticizing decisions after the fact implies that our preferred decision would have worked, and there’s no knowing that. I know he makes mistakes because all managers do. Maybe he makes more mistakes than most, but I don’t know that.

      • LarkinPhillips

        Thanks for your response Greenmtred. I was just curious of where the “Bell defenders” thoughts came from. It seems that both you and Jim T more agree that we can’t evaluate Bell due to ownership handcuffing him with terrible rosters, and that most of the criticism from the “Bell haters” comes after the fact (we all know hindsight is 20/20) which isn’t a fair time to criticize. I would think it is more defending the process (and criticizing ownership), than necessarily defending Bell (is that correct?).

        I think there is definitely common ground between all of us and general consensus that ownership sucks. I just wanted to understand where you guys were coming from. Thank you both.

      • greenmtred

        Right on the nail, LarkinPhillips (and what a double-play combo that would be!). I appreciate your taking the time to understand what some of us are saying.

      • DaveCT

        LarkinPhillips, I’m not pro Bell but I’m not in the fire him crowd whatsoever. Bell, honestly doesn’t bother me at all. And I do not get any sense that the players are bothered by him either. They’re no fools. They know what a weak team this has been. Last year, I suggested they bring in Casey Stengel given his experience with the 61 Mets.

        My thing is, Bell was hired because the front office wanted an analytics-oriented manager as well as one who could replicate the Cardinals Way style (LaRussa/Matheny). So, the front office has gotten exactly what they’ve wanted. Since any evaluation of Bell may also include an analytics-oriented process, I suspect there are layers we cannot imagine of data that the front office will look at when making any decision on his next contract. I would not be surprised at all to see him extended.

        Some of those analytics might include his record on player development. There I said it. While the team has been truly noxious, Bell’s analytics and Cardinal Way has ushered in India, Stephenson, Friedl, Fraley, possibly Steer, possibly Barrero, Green, Lodolo, Ashcraft, VGutierrez and Santillan to some degree, and Diaz. Joey’s last big career year came under Bell. Nick C’ and Winker’s big years came under Bell. He also helped make Kyle Farmer and Brandon Drury decent trade chips. Bell, with DJ, helped Castillo, Gray, and Maile succeed, too, and become very valuable trade chips as well. Don’t forget Bauer and Cy Young, either. The phasing out of team favorites Barnhart and Farmer have been handled fine. Senzel has been a major setback for the organization. While I never expected Kris Bryant, as some did, failing to get a productive pick at #2 overall successfully transitioned to the ML’s will be a sting for some time. And the injuries to Antone, Sims, Santillan, Guetierez, Miley, Votto, India, Moose, Senzel, etc have gutted this team, with little depth behind them.

        This will be one of the few times I wade into the David Bell issue, so here goes.

    • Jim t

      @LDS I have to tell you thank you. I bet my son who reads RLN a 10.00 bill that you would be the first to comment.

      • LDS

        @JimT, should have bet more, clearly. We all come to our perspective on Bell from different backgrounds. I don’t accept the argument that he’s never had a roster that was competitive. I don’t accept the premise that the manager makes little difference. I don’t accept the contention that management/talent development practices, common in corporate America, aren’t applicable to baseball. Human psychology shares commonalities across all professions. We tend to ignore that in professional sports, instead contending that knowledge of the game and past playing experience trump what has been known and taught for years. It doesn’t. So, it’s easier to lament the roster, the ownership, etc. than to acknowledge Bell’s conspicuous lack of management ability. We keep hearing how much his players respect him, etc. I’ve never seen, in over 40+ years of management, a situation in which team members are happy with a manager that doesn’t recognize differences in individual performances, e.g., praising/using folks that aren’t pulling their weight on the team and acting as if they are. I could cite numerous examples, but we’d all get bored beating the same dead fish. As long as Bell remains with the organization in any capacity, I will continue to believe that the organization is more committed to nepotism and the mediocrity that it brings than it ever has been to winning.

    • Greenfield Red

      I am not against the Castellini’s, and like it or not, alininging payroll to resources was the right thing to do. That said, they will have to start spending in 2024 or they will lose the entire fan base.

  2. MercerRed

    Votto is done. It has been coming over the last 4 years. Time for him to consider retirement.

    • Dale

      Ummmmmm what? He has a resurgent 2021 and was hurt most of last year.

      In 2021 he hit 36 hrs, hit .266 and had an ops of .934. If you want to use advanced stats, he had a 3.7 WAR. How is this continued decline over a 4 yr span?

  3. Amarillo

    @LarkinPhillips yes, there perhaps should be a higher standard than just better than Price, and maybe Bell isn’t the solution, but he isn’t the biggest problem either. Who the manager is generally doesn’t matter that much. Every team hates their manager. The things that Dodgers fans write about Dave Roberts go way past the threshold of normal human decency, and that is despite several 100 win seasons. Even Sparky Anderson had an 100 loss season. Many Hall of Fame managers have at least one. Lou Piniella’s worst was 99. At some point, losses aren’t the manager’s fault.

    • LarkinPhillips

      I can definitely agree with that Amarillo. My argument to the the idea that he isn’t the biggest problem, is that the bigger problems we really can’t complain enough to fix (make Bob sell the team.) My thing with Bell is that his contract is nearly up and was up before his extension following collapsing down the stretch in 2021. Rather than looking elsewhere, or at least pretending to want to fix problems, the Reds have pretty much “stood pat” and that is where my criticism comes from. Bell is definitely “low hanging fruit” to me, but I would settle for him not being extended after 2021 or being fired after 100 losses.

      • Amarillo

        When it comes down to it, I just firmly disagree with the notion that firing a manager mid-season instantly makes a team better.

      • LarkinPhillips

        @Amarillo, I agree that as well. However, at some point, holding someone accountable (say after 3-22 start) seems necessary.

  4. Wayne Nabors

    I find it extremely hard to see there are still people advocating for bell after Tuesdays game,that and many other losses were contributed to his blueprint of managing

    • greenmtred

      Wayne: Should the Tigers have fired Sparky after his 1989 season when the team lost 103 games?

      • Harry Stoner

        One thing we can count on from GMTR is the non sequitur question.

        I realize that is a popular means of diverting a conversation these days.

        “Yeah, but what about…..?!”

        What Detroit did or did not do with Anderson in 1989 is completely irrelevant to the question at hand about Bell.

        Bell should be, and for the most part is, being evaluated based on his on-field decisions about how he handles the lineup, sets his positions, and manages his bullpen.

        That’s his role to play irrespective of the quality of the players he is given to work with.

        For the most part that has been the source of the frustration and complaints here.

        Bell’s decisions have been questioned before games begin, while the games are under way and after the fact.

        Those here who are uncomfortable with this being a “discussion board”–which is by nature the place where people pop off their opinions–should find another place to spend their time.

        It cracks up me to read the posts for those who insist on being “right” about everything.

        And your type of rhetorical questions are the funniest of all.

      • greenmtred

        You need to pay better attention, Harry. Looking up the definition of non-sequitur would help, too. Sparky’s record with Detroit in ’89 is, of course relevant because the discussion was about firing a manager for a poor record.

      • 2020ball

        “It cracks up me to read the posts for those who insist on being “right” about everything.“

        Thats literally everyone here, amiright?

      • Luke J

        If you think the discussion is about firing Bell for a poor record that tells me you aren’t understanding the complaints about Bell.

      • greenmtred

        You might be right, Luke. I had assumed that people were complaining about Bell because the Reds weren’t doing well. Your comment forces me to reconsider: you seem to be saying–and I’m certain that you’ll correct me if I’ve misunderstood–that the complaint really is that Bell doesn’t do things the way you think you would if anybody, for whatever reason, hired you to manage a major league baseball team. Let me think about this for a moment…Okay, time’s up.

  5. RedBB

    David Bell is an average to below average coach. That’s it….

  6. Jim t

    I guess my issue with the fire Bell question is the criteria used to judge his performance. It would be so easy to just look at the won/loss record but with an ownership that is not trying to win it becomes very difficult. I don’t think they have even come close to selling out completely to put a winning product on the field.

    If the direction he is being given by his employer win or do the best you can?

    The reds are my team. That won’t change. I like the direction of the young starting pitching, Steer,India,Stephenson and Freidl all seem to be moving forward under his direction. Even Barrera is advancing. After this year we should be adding a few more prospects to the team from a very loaded minor league system.

    For me watching those kids progress will be the criteria I use to judge him. Right now I like what I see. The youngsters are doing well. With a bit of investment in the bull pen we would be over 500. Also after next year Moose and votto come off the books. I know it’s not a given ownership will use it to strengthen the product but if they do it could make a difference when added to our youth movement.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is Bell isn’t as bad as some make him out to be or as good as his advocates try to make him out to be. Many thought this team would be another 100 loss season. It hasn’t played like that to this point but it is still very early. The young players are doing well. I’ll wait until the end of the season to make my decision.

    • LarkinPhillips

      Reminds of the saying that there are normally three sides to a story. Your truth, my truth, and the real truth that normally lies in the middle of the first two. Thanks Jim.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m not sure that I’ve seen anyone that’s actually an advocate for David Bell. What I have seen people say is that they have no idea if he’s any good or not because he’s never really been given a team without serious flaws to work with.

      • LarkinPhillips

        I think that for a lot of posters the “Bell defenders” were thought of as Bell advocates, which wasn’t true.

      • J

        This seems like semantics. If someone swerves onto the sidewalk and runs over my foot with their car, and I say “that guy should be arrested,” and someone else comes along and says “well, I suppose it’s possible he should be arrested, or maybe he just needs a car that works better than the one he has; it’s impossible to say whether he should be arrested until we see him drive a nicer car,” I might say “stop advocating for that horrible driver who obviously needs to be arrested.” Technically, I suppose the other person wasn’t an “advocate,” per se, but the distinction seems pretty trivial when I’m looking at my mangled foot and someone is telling me the solution might be to give the driver a nicer car.

      • 2020ball

        I think thats a bit fallacious of an argument because im pretty sure 100% of us would be upset if someone caused us bodily injury, and clearly Bell managing wont inspire 100% of anything.

      • Jim Walker

        I think 2021 is a close call for being able to judge Bell by what he did or did not accomplish when his team seemed to have the inside track for a wildcard into August after the bullpen woes had been somewhat if belatedly addressed at the trade deadline.

        The Cardinals historic run of 17 straight wins in September 2021 to move past the Reds tends to distract from the fact the Reds ended up just 5 games arrears of them at the end of the season. Yet the Reds still led the Cards by 3.5 games with 19 games to go for the Reds.

        In those final 19 games, the Reds went 8-11 including 8 losses to teams that lost 90 or more games each in 2021 (Pirates, Cubs, Nats, Marlins). Two more of the losses were head to head vs the Cards.

        I recall and understand the Reds had injuries. However adverse times are when leadership steps to the forefront and finds a way to persevere.

        I’ve been juggling numbers and trying to recall the Reds injuries for close to an hour. I’m not ready to say definitively either way; but, I am leaning toward saying this was a legitimate shot Bell missed. And how many does a manager for anyone except the Reds under the Castellini regime get?

      • 2020ball

        Theyd extended him before the end of that season too, something that seemed very strange given they were in a playoff chase. Ive been saying it for tears that the FO is the teams problem, and its headscratching stuff like that that cements it for me. They subtracted from that bullpen before the season to “reallocate” resources or whatever. I still think Bell has a high chance to be let go after his contract, but i dont think he’s the core problem with the team over the years.

      • Hanawi

        Disagree. There are a number who jump into any thread with a hint of criticism of Bell and defend him. They are already in this one.

      • greenmtred

        I said that it’s an interesting analogy, and it is. But a more accurate analogy would be a driver required to drive a car that has no brakes or steering who happens to run over your foot.

      • greenmtred

        Jim: I think that, were we to do some research, we’d find that the 2021 Reds ended up meeting or exceeding preseason expectations. The collapse is troubling, and the failure to arrest it may well be on Bell. But there are factors that shouldn’t be glossed over: the bullpen–historically bad, was modestly improved. The injuries were significant; I’m pretty sure the Reds led MLB and they weren’t minor, particularly for a team that wouldn’t commit the resources necessary to address them. Perhaps Bell could have rallied the team and kept them from crumbling. I don’t know, but I do know that that sort of thing is a heavy lift. I also know that he couldn’t have stopped the Cards from winning a million games in a row.

    • 2020ball

      Im not sure ive ever seen anyone here say hes good, i think most if us are tired of the same old tired complaints that can be made about any manager. I promise you the same criticisms will happen when Bell is one day fired, likely from the same people.

      • J

        Most of the people who complain about Bell are complaining about the dumb things he does. If he stopped doing dumb things, most people would stop complaining. Almost nobody complains about the smart things he does. If India goes 0-4 tonight and commits an error, nobody is going to complain that Bell shouldn’t have had India in the lineup. If Diaz comes in for the 9th and blows a one run lead, nobody is going to complain about it. The complaints about Bell aren’t random, and most of them are fair.

      • 2020ball

        Im not so sure youre right about that, ive seen some of the silliest criticisms i could fathom on here routinely. Most of what i read people disliking is stuff im pretty sure every manager will do. I dont expect many on here to consider a bigger picture but id advocate for it 100%

      • 2020ball

        When Diaz faltered in his second inning of work the other night, all i saw on here was he should have pulled him, hes obviously cooked bla.h blah blah, but then i look at the game and he didnt pitch that poorly grounders just found holes. None of those criticisms had a name from the bullpen theyd rather see instead so im not sure what any if you wanted him to do differently, he had his best reliever inn to try and win a game. Its just mindless cookie cutter criticism, same as always.

  7. LarkinPhillips

    Listening to this podcast, one statement was made that Nick Krall has yet to build a decent a bullpen his entire time. I found this interesting. We are all under the assumption that he is waiting until a “winning team is possible” to invest in the bullpen. However, as I have pointed out the last couple days, a quality 2-3 arm bullpen can be acquired for 10-11 million (the same we invested in Myers/newman/Casali this year or Pham/Solano last year.) Could it be, that Krall simply doesn’t believe that investing in bullpen arms is a priority and that is where he will always “cut costs?”

  8. Votto4life

    Fire Bell when you are committed to winning, otherwise it doesn’t much matter.

  9. J

    I don’t really understand the “is it Bell’s fault or is it ownership’s fault” debate. It’s ultimately ownership’s fault, and one of the biggest mistakes ownership has made is to extend, rather than fire, David Bell. It would be nice to spend $20 million on a few relief pitchers, or to sell the team to someone who will, and we can all complain about that, but a more realistic step would be hiring a manager who won’t pinch hit for his #2 and #3 hitters because they’re left handed. This is a problem that’s easy and relatively cheap to fix, and we shouldn’t be debating it, we should all be advocating for it.

    • greenmtred

      Without the improved bullpen, J, a different manager would have similar results. A team of this era has no chance with an ineffective bullpen. We make assumptions about why he pinch hits for particular people in particular situations, and I don’t know why he does. Maybe you guys are right and it’s just slavish adherence to left-right match ups. I do expect that he has very detailed stats available that give him information about specific match-ups. Remember, though, that no matter who bats, he’s considerably more likely than not to fail.

      • J

        If by “similar result” you mean a different manager wouldn’t win 100 games with this team, I agree. But I do believe Bell costs this team quite a few wins each season, and I think he sets a tone that failure is perfectly acceptable. I also think his mismanagement of the bullpen makes it seem worse than it really is. When he takes out a guy who’s been cruising along and has only thrown 14 pitches, he’s not taking advantage of a day when that guy might be pitching well and could easily pitch another inning. And when he sticks with a guy who’s clearly struggling, he’s putting that guy in a position to fail. The way to maximize the bullpen is to let guys pitch when they’re pitching well, and yank them quickly when they’re not. He doesn’t usually do either of those, because he has a “plan” in mind, and what’s happening on the field isn’t very relevant.

      • Kevin H

        Been reading your comments and I agree with your take.

        I have been one of those guys who believe Bell uses who he has and well we see the result time and time again.. Final straw if you will for me came Tuesday night when he pitched hit for Friedl and Fraley. Then did opposite last night. I understand he has no bench per say. I believe a different manager would do better.

      • greenmtred

        I don’t believe a different manager would have a significantly better record with this team without a stronger roster, a stronger bullpen because I believe a manager’s success is a function of the talent available to him. This is why I tiresomely point out that great managers have had losing records in multiple seasons when they haven’t had strong rosters.

      • 2020ball

        Yank them quickly lol, everyone seems to always forget you cant do this anymore

    • 2020ball

      He had no good choice in that game, i suspect many wouldve been upset if he let them hit and they stuckout instead, the same posters would likely say he shouldve pinch hit for him. The biggest issue for me is the RH hitter he used for Fraley isnt that good either, if we had a lefty masher on the bench instead the move looks far better.

      • 2020ball

        I personally am not pinch hitter Newman for Fraley there, but i also dont see it as an egregious move like some do. We know Fraley isnt good versus LHP

      • Kevin H

        You don’t pitch hit for a player who is hitting very well. My opinion of course, however Friedl and FRALEY are as of now two of your better hitters.

  10. Redhaze

    1. Play Steer at third base every game. Through ups and downs.
    2. Do not play fruit basket turnover with the lineup every game.
    3. Run. Bunt. Sacrifice.

  11. ChrisInVenice

    The fire David Bell crew said to fire every previous Reds manager and will call for xxxx xxxx to be fired next.

  12. Melvin

    It’s come to the point that it really doesn’t matter whether you think David Bell is the best manager ever or the worst manager ever. It doesn’t change the facts. The facts are that since the four plus years David Bell has been manager the Reds have continually, for the most part been losers, that there is a losing culture during that time, and a losing atmosphere. These facts alone make VERY GOOD reasons even scream to change managers. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is. It may not even make an immediate difference if ever. A change needs to be made. Period. New owners or not. If you want to look at some Reds history look at the 79-82 seasons. John McNamara, following Sparky Anderson, won 90 & 89 games in 79 & 80. In 1981 the Reds had the best record in baseball. After the 81 season the Reds lost Foster, Griffey, and Collins, the entire outfield. They traded Ray Knight. Bench quit catching and was terrible at 3B. They had a very bad roster. Even though it wasn’t McNamara’s fault, he was fired on July 20, 1982, 23 games out of first. That was the year by the way the Reds lost 100 games. The argument that Bell shouldn’t be fired because he doesn’t have very good rosters doesn’t hold water. That’s just what’s done.