Until very recently, every game has been a Charles Schultz comic strip—a few innings of solid pitching, only to see the bullpen pull the football away at the last moment. Things have stabilized a bit, which is a function of the fungible nature of bullpens. And that fungible nature makes spending money on relief arms—particularly on a team that isn’t far enough down on the competitive timeline—a non-starter. Alex Young and Lucas Sims look as if they might be able to solidify the late innings. Ian Gibaut has shown some promise.
Last week’s sweep of the Texas Rangers hints at a couple of things. One, Nick Senzel can play this game at a high level. Two, this team plays hard for David Bell.
Be honest. You gave up on Senzel. It’s easy to do. Like our Amazon-fueled addiction to have things right now, waiting on Nick to produce was a big N-O. He was the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. If you are a smart organization, you give those picks every chance to succeed. Senzel’s minor league career was filled with success. He isn’t blocking anyone on a roster that remains in flux. No one truly owns a position right now, with the exception of Tyler Stephenson. His only definitive failing has been his inability to stay healthy. And with that came the pejorative cries that he is “fragile” by some in an attempt to belittle a prospect who had let them down.
Not everyone arrives at the same time. Jarred Kelenic and MacKenzie Gore were high touted prospects who have gotten saddle sores riding the struggle bus, only now showing the promise their high draft selections portended. It’s early, yes. Still, Nick Senzel is starting to show the wait was worth it.
The desire to see the Reds move on from Bell or at least put him on the managerial hot seat screams of the usual scapegoating, and scapegoating needs no rational reason or facts. The skipper’s postgame press conferences are unenthusiastic or fail to reflect what you want to hear? He meddles with the lineup? He’s too enamored of lefty vs. righty stats?
It’s a different game, now.
In the end it usually comes down to this for the disgruntled: this team is bad, so let’s try something new. Fans in New York have been screaming for Aaron Boone’s head for years. The St. Louis Cardinals, who are routinely lauded as a model MLB franchise, traded Mike Matheny for Mike Shildt and Mike Shildt for Oliver Marmol. Marmol is getting almost the identical criticisms as Bell gets right now as the Redbirds sit in baseball’s basement. Maybe it’s justified. But his players are not performing. The pitching is suspect and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are not producing. It’s funny how situations from team to team are vastly different, but the villains and solution is always the same.
I hate to break the news, but this team was built to be bad this season. The structure of this team was stripped down to the bare studs—Stephenson, India, Greene, Lodolo, etc. And David Bell has to deal with that. He has to manufacture the best record he can, while still making decisions that are forward-looking, not necessarily decisions that are optimal for winning a particular game. That’s not a pill the average fan wants to swallow, but it’s reality.
No, the task this season is to see what (who) needs to be added to the foundation and build an edifice to withstand the harsh winds of injuries, bad luck and the stiff competition that comes with a small market payroll. It’s also about creating a new atmosphere in a clubhouse that has been forced to deal with a fair amount of losing. It means keeping players engaged, resting others, sometimes even when they are going good. It means moving pieces around and seeing what you’ve got while you have the chance to do it, even if it means that playing unfamiliar positions results in inconsistent fielding. Because later, serious decisions will have to made. Players will have to be chosen. Others traded. Positions will have to be solidified, while still discovering who can cover multiple positions in a pinch. Like Senzel.
The Reds hired Bell partly because he shares the same view of the game the front office does—or at least I think they did until they began parting ways with some of their analytic people. I like analytics because I like more information. The fans that want a more conventional approach insist Bell has “no feel for the game.” My rejoinder to this is an old Sparky Anderson story. Number 10 walks to mound, careful to step over the foul line, extends his hand upward; whereupon his pitcher, Pat Darcy, reportedly said, “I still feel good, Skip.” “You’ll feel better in the shower,” replied Anderson.
The thing is, Anderson had the luxury of running out the same lineup every night with players who were cemented in their positions due to their skill and the nature of the game in the 70s. Major league baseball is different now; and many of us of a certain age are resentful that the game we once loved is no more. Gone are the days of all-powerful managers like Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda. When reporters questioned Dusty Baker’s use of Aroldis Chapman as a closer, his reply was, “that’s just the way it is.”
This isn’t the way it is anymore. Like it or not, managers are now in lock step with the front office. It’s made them less colorful to be sure. But that’s the game today.
It didn’t surprise me that the day the Reds arrived in Oakland last week, every previous team they’d played in April—the Pirates, Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Rays and Rangers—had a winning record. Yet, somehow, David Bell managed to weather a tough month with a bad bullpen and a lot of players still finding their way.
There’s so much to look forward to, especially if ownership eventually opens their wallets. And if they don’t, there will be time enough to light the pitchforks.
In the meantime, why waste energy obsessing about a manager who cannot win games with magical lineups and crystal ball decision-making. Enjoy what is on the horizon. You’ll feel better in the shower.
*He has to manufacture the best record he can, while still making decisions that are forward-looking, not necessarily decisions that are optimal for winning a particular game.*
If this were true, then Barrero would have a lot more ABs and Newman would have a lot fewer.
“Manufacture the best record he can…” Newman was one of the Reds’ “big” off-season acquisitions and–particularly with the team’s lack of proven talent– Bell does not have the luxury of leaving him languishing on the bench. Barrero does not languish there, either.
Reds would be a better team without Bell as manager. Playing HARD for Bell hasnt netted results. I don’t feel confident about much with Bell in charge.
For some reason, the site thinks I’m a robot. I typed in the letters and numbers but it still thinks that I am.
David Bell has a career losing record in the minors and majors. Sparky Anderson has a career winning record in the minor and majors. There is no comparison between the two of them.
Sparky had seven losing seasons. When he had strong rosters he won. When he had weak rosters he lost. The same can be said for most or all managers.
I hate to go negative but I watch every game and think Bell has done a poor job. Let’s go back to 2021, with the weakest remaining schedule and the team fighting for a playoff spot the Red’s fell apart at the seams. 2022 3 and 22 start enough said. This year with the talent, or lack there of, I have no problem with the 13 and 18 record. However some of Bell’s decisions have been perplexing, to put it mildly. 1. Line up construction, my lord batting Fairchild 4th and then pinch hitting for him, the constant idea of not batting any left handed batters when a left handed pitcher is on the mound, Freidl leads team in hitting. This plan often leaves no bench late in games. 2. Constantly pulling starters to early. 3. The lack of hit and run ball after doing it all spring. 4. The constant jerking around of young players such as Barrero for players like Newman, who may have a role, but Bell is playing him way to much. 5. With all of the young player coming up I don’t think Bell is the man to bring them along but he is cheap so we will see.
I agree. Plus he’s connected
Bell is only playing the cards he’s dealt but when your NL offensive player of the week is batting behind a journeyman SS who has no future with us, I have to question if he really deserves to be Manager. That’s inexcusable.
I agree with your sentiment, and I know people use “journeyman” to describe all mediocre baseball players, but I feel like a guy who’s played his whole career for one team until that team traded him shouldn’t be called a “journeyman.” I feel the term should be reserved for guy’s who’ve actually bounced a round a bit. But I suppose that’s just me.
Melvin: it would be interesting, and difficult, to find out how well hitters do in the game following a three hit day. The raw number would tell us something, but the full picture would only be revealed by comparing the opposing pitchers involved.
I can remember in past years when Senzel would show a little promise and was moved up in the batting order only to fall. I get the sense he performs better at the plate a bit lower in the lineup (don’t ask me why…psychological perhaps?)
“Bell is only playing the cards he’s dealt”
No he’s not. lol Three times in the last couple of weeks he’s benched a player from the starting lineup after getting three hits the night before. Senzel was only saved by a late scratch. Last weekend (Sat. – Mon.) arguably out best hitter this year, who hits both righties and lefties (Friedl), was not in the starting lineup three games in a row. Who was in there all that time?….Newman. I don’t want to hear David Bell doesn’t win because he doesn’t have good players. It’s hogwash. He doesn’t even use the ones he got. Besides the extra speed that Friedl adds he’s also one of the “heart and soul” players on this team.
“Three times in the last couple of weeks he’s benched a player from the starting lineup after getting three hits the night before.” – This is pretty ridiculous argument. If Reynolds got 3 hits, should he start the next game. No he definitely should not.
“Last weekend (Sat. – Mon.) arguably out best hitter this year, who hits both righties and lefties (Friedl), was not in the starting lineup three games in a row. Who was in there all that time?….Newman.” – Was this against a lefty starter? If yes, then there’s no issue here. Newman hits lefties better. Now against a righty starter, your complaint would be 100% valid.
wkuchad – I guess your argument is that it’s okay to start Newman over Friedl with a LH pitcher on the mound. I disagree.
“If Reynolds got 3 hits, should he start the next game.”
The answer for that to me is absolutely yes. It’s about riding the hot bat. It’s all about winning. If Reynolds goes on a hot streak for a while and helps the team then let him play. There are plenty of players that he can give a day off to who may be struggling. Newman was not hot. He was just playing because he had some success against LH pitching in the past. Friedl is absolutely one of if not our best hitter this year. Friedl was not on a cold streak. He had just had two hits the game before and was hitting .303 before being benched. Newman was 2 for his last 12 barely hitting over .200.
“I guess your argument is that it’s okay to start Newman over Friedl with a LH pitcher on the mound.” – No, my main argument is that’s it’s reasonable to start Newman anytime there’s a lefty starter.
“The answer for that to me is absolutely yes.” – Well, this is where we disagree the most. Also, if Bell were to follow your advise and start Reynolds in back to back games, he would be absolutely roasted on this site.
“Also, if Bell were to follow your advise and start Reynolds in back to back games, he would be absolutely roasted on this site”
If Reynolds or anyone else were hitting really well and Bell played him the next day there would be no roasting from me. It’s all about momentum. It’s all about winning.
“No, my main argument is that’s it’s reasonable to start Newman anytime there’s a lefty starter.”
Even when he’s taking the place of your best hitter?
This should be a fun comments section to read.
You must be a glutton for punishment, Richard. But I appreciate that.
I’m fine with it. I don’t read the comments as much as I used to, particularly the game logs because it’s just people taking their frustrations out on the easy target and enjoying the feeling of community they get from congratulating each other on their vitriol with all their silly +500s, etc.
The Reds are the 8th best team in baserunning so far according to Fangraphs. The Cubs are 15th, the Yankees 19th and the Cardinals last. But fire Bell because you saw Stephenson get thrown out at third and that’s all about Bell’s lack of accountability.
Facts don’t stand a chance when the other choice is admitting you might have been wrong for months or years about an individual and you’ve staked your online rep on it.
I’ve never insisted David Bell is the second coming of Walter Alston. I just think he’s done everything that can be expected of a manager who has been given a pair of 8s and asked to produce a full house by some fans.
Once again I am going to say: you can’t know how bad (or not bad) a team actually is until you see them play for someone else. It’s like saying “there’s no point in getting a tuneup because my car runs very badly. And the way I know a tuneup won’t work is that the car was really cheap and didn’t work very well when I bought it.” You can’t know what kind of car you have until you take care of its most obvious problems. If you don’t take care of those problems, of COURSE it will run badly. Maybe it’s a lousy car, or maybe it’s an okay car that runs badly because it hasn’t had a tuneup in years.
Fix the obvious (and cheap) problems first. Then see what you’ve really got. Maybe you have a better car than you realize.
I think your analogy stalled out
I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t seem to understand how analogies work, just as a lot of people don’t understand how baseball managers can affect how their players play. (That’s not an analogy.)
J, I could make the same analogy and arrive at the opposite conclusion.
Bryan Price had a way worse roster and Ive never seen anyone clamoring for him.
The David Bell media defenders are out in full force across all fronts.
Enquirer doing it. Jason Williams ran article 2 weeks ago about david coaching his 11 yo in basketball and Buddy did and Gus family man. That might be ok in january but in April when baseball is front and center every day? Reeks of desperation.
Bryan price never had a pitching staff with a Cy Young winner , luis castillo sonny gray geno suarez all time hr hitter venezuela and 2 All outfielders with a bullpen of iglesias good garrett sims ++++
He had Joey votto and nothing else.
Shouldnt bryan Price still be the manager??? Bell ‘s rosters are 10x better
What did Price do to get fired????
Price was from a different era. In those days, a lot of people actually believed the manager might have something to do with a team’s performance, so you couldn’t just hire a turnip, call the turnip “manager,” blame all the team’s problems on the roster construction, and let the turnip continue managing indefinitely because it gets along well with everyone. Things have changed since then.
What did Price do to get fired????
Dropped a cluster of F-bombs.
Bell drops more f bombs and has been kicked out of more games than price
Bell just chooses when. He does it to umpires.
Price did it once to media which is exactly my point .
Price was authentic and didnt have a dad in the front office.
Bell does and plays to different audiences… hes one way to media and a different way to umpires and a different way to moose than he is to friedl and a different way to Puig than Fraley.
And that cluster got national attention which cost Price his job in Cincy.
Bryan price had virtually no chance. I actually liked him. You are correct of course. He was fired.
RLN went after Price in much the same way it goes after Bell.
yep, Price was loathed on this site
As was Dusty Baker.
I’m not sure his rosters were way worse than last year’s.
13-18 is pretty good when you consider Bell has 2 good starters at the moment and one of those struggles to even get thru 5 innings plus they’re also 28th in HRs for some unknown reason?
I’m not particularly high on Bell, but running in a new coach every few years doesn’t help with developing chemistry. People complain nonstop that he won’t play the kids, but Greene and Ashcraft would’ve never came up that fast with Dusty or Price. Cozart was 25.5 and crushing it before they finally pulled the plug on old man Edgar Renteria. The Reds have always been that way in my lifetime. I’m too young for Bench, Gullett, etc.
I would look for progress with the youngsters and 72+ wins. In reality it doesn’t matter who the manager is if their answer for obvious holes is Mike Minor and Luke Weaver. You can’t win the Kentucky Derby on a mule. So let Bell ride out and take the hit if need be when they’re serious about spending a few bucks again.
3 good starters. Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft
Lodolo is at 6.16….hence “at the moment”
I didn’t see “at the moment ” not sure how I missed that. LOL..
He has three good starters. One of them has been pitching badly. He has a fourth starter who ought to be at least decent, but he’s having the worst year of his career by a long shot. Perhaps Bell just has tremendously bad luck, or perhaps not getting the most out of his pitching staff. We’ll never know as long as he remains the manager.
Bell is not an analytics guy. Period. He ignores what the numbers actually say. And the fact that analytics are, for the most part, merely descriptive than predictive still doesn’t support Bells decision making.
More information is fine, however in my opinion analytics have hurt the game. Maybe I am just old at 48, however whatever happend to with one’s gut. Play a player who is hitting well against both right and left handed pitchers. Allow your starting pitcher to go more than 6 innings cause analytics says so. Or whatever.
Baseball to me is the same game I played years ago.
I’ve got 20 years on you. Analytics are descriptive. They don’t tell what to do. They tell you what happened. Not to mention that most are derived from the same core statistics we’ve always followed. BABIP is one of my favorites. RLN fans touted it frequently last season as a measure of a player’s “bad luck”, particularly Votto. It’s not. So we agree again.
Analytics are no more predictive than are traditional stats such as BA, homers and RBI. Over a large sample size, however, they show tendencies. They also, as I understand it, can be pretty granular. As Richard says, they’re information. The Reds are far from the only team influenced by this sort of analysis.
@Greenmtred, as I said, Bell ignores what the numbers say. An example from the 2nd game against SD (as I posted at the time) illustrates it perfectly:
Newmans line against RH’er: .200/.216/.229/.445
Barrero’s line against RH’er: .261/.340/.413/.753
Yet, he starts Newman against RH’er. If this were an isolated example, then no big deal. It’s not. It’s common with Bell. How about Bell batting Fairchild 4th then pinch hitting for him. I could list numerous examples game management issues from this season alone. And it’s not limited to this season. Far more egregiously, he lacks the ability to develop prospects and lacks any sense of accountability for bad play. Bad baserunning, for example, though better this season, has been a hallmark of the Reds over the last few seasons. A manager that fails to hold a staff accountable for poor performance is not a manager and should be replaced immediately.
When I said granular, what I meant was that MLB managers have at their disposal more specific information than overall handedness-influenced batting average. They also have real-time information about a player’s health and morale that we lack.
I think the Reds season will sort out the manager for them. They’ll hit for more power and Lodolo is better then this. Hunter Green is also too talented to go 4+ innings per start.
They have talent at AAA that should boost the lineup and most importantly they’ve played really good teams so far. 3 with Tampa and 6 vs the NL defending champs. Texas is winning and the Pirates have been unreal. The Pads are also stacked. Starting tomorrow they have the White Sox with the Rockies on the horizon and they haven’t even seen the sorry Cardinals yet. Bell needs to turn the needle around from last year if these guys produce like they’re supposed to. 72-74 wins minimum imo would show improvement and start to turn around this culture of losing.
The Reds play 25 of their next 38 games vs teams that are currently .500 or worse.
Imagine what the fans of those teams feel when they see the Reds on their upcoming schedule as well. Unless we drop to AAA, I’m not feeling real optimistic against any other major league teams with this team constructed by Bob and Phil.
” The St. Louis Cardinals, who are routinely lauded as a model MLB franchise, traded Mike Matheny for Mike Shildt and Mike Shildt for Oliver Marmol.”
Maybe one reason they’er routinely lauded as a model MLB franchise is because when I manager isn’t winning they shake things up and make a change. LOL We all know what Bell has done in 4+ years. Not impressive. Time for a CHANGE. If Marmol doesn’t start winning he’ll get fired too no matter what the roster looks like and it won’t take 4+ years. You can take that to the bank.
“Maybe one reason they’er routinely lauded as a model MLB franchise is because when I manager isn’t winning they shake things up and make a change. LOL”
I think Shildt was the manager when they made that late 17 game winning streak that got them into the playoffs in ’21. The longest such streak in the NL since 1937.
And they fired him.
And that LOL thing. It’s always a tell someone is whistling past the graveyard of their own argument. Might wanna lose that.
Yeah and he did all that but lost in the playoffs. That’s the point. It wasn’t good enough for the Cardinals. The Reds fell apart like a cheap umbrella down the stretch with what was considered the second easiest schedule. The Reds instead of firing David Bell extended him for two years. Those two scenarios say it all. As far as the LOL I try to have a sense of humor to keep my sanity when thinking about the Reds so I’ll keep it. lol 🙂
Shildt got fired because he wanted to run the team differently than the front office. Shildt got fired because he wouldn’t follow orders. Basically every place of employment will fire you for that. It had nothing to do with the winning streak as you are trying to portray.
Well, JB re-read the thread. Yes, Shildt was fired over philosophical differences. But the commenter insisted it was about not winning enough, which it clearly was not. That’s all I’m saying.
Could it be Shildt was fired because he didn’t have a relative in the Cardinal front office?
“Could it be Shildt was fired because he didn’t have a relative in the Cardinal front office?”
“Yeah and he did all that but lost in the playoffs. That’s the point. It wasn’t good enough for the Cardinals. ”
At first it was about “winning”. Now, it’s because he didn’t win it all.
Keep moving the goalposts of your argument. You’ll eventually get there.
Uh. I don’t think so. haha The Cardinal definition of winning is not only making it to the playoffs but doing well when they get there. Otherwise they often make a change. The Reds fall apart without even making it to the playoffs and make no changes. Of course they instead do the logical “winning” thing and extend their manager. Unless of course you want to include the time they actually squeaked into the EXPANDED playoffs in 2020 having the CY Young award winner and others in the running. Of course after getting there they failed to score a SINGLE run. If I was a David Bell supporter I wouldn’t bring that up.
According to your astute GM analysis, Melvin, you would have fired Sparky long before he won the WS in 1975.
Lost in the WS in 1970
Team disappointed in 71, winning a paltry 79 games
Lost in the WS in 1972, despite being a heavy favorite
Lost in the playoffs in 1973 to the Mets, who were barely above .500
Missed the playoffs in 1974
St. Louis management wouldn’t have put up with that, right?
Richard – Tell you what. If David Bell makes it to two World Series I’ll cut him some slack even if he doesn’t win. 🙂 Sparky making it to the World Series, his first year managing the Reds I believe, is probably what got him the chance to have a bad year and keep his job. Making it to the World Series in 72, again, definitely got him some more “managing points”. Losing to the Mets in 73 was definitely a disappointment after winning a league best 99 games. In 74 they came in 2nd place to the Dodgers 4 games back but still winning 98 games. The Dodgers by the way would have probably been “the team of the 70s” if it not for the Big Red Machine. I’m not sure what would have happened if Sparky hadn’t taken them to the WS again in 75. As I recall through reading and videos that the Reds were becoming known as the team that couldn’t win the big one. Maybe that would have meant Sparky being replaced if he hadn’t won the World Series that year. Glad we didn’t find out. Have to remember there were less teams back then with more talent and less playoff spots with only two division winners playing each other for the pennant and then moving on to the World Series. It was harder to win and wasn’t easy even with the powerful teams of the Reds in the 70s. For me personally I only consider the Big Red Machine in existence when the “Great Eight” were there starting which was only less than two years. As to your point about what the Cardinals would have done I have no idea of course. My point is simply that the Cardinals, at least these days, want to, know how to, strive to, and don’t settle for anything less but to win. They make changes, shake things up or whatever until they find the “winning formula”. It’s not just money. The Reds just don’t do that. Period. If they did David Bell would not still be manager. An argument can be made that he never should have been in the first place having his father so close to the owner. It’s a recipe for disaster. That’s a big part of all the criticism.
Another, more germane thing the Cards are lauded for is bringing in good players to address weaknesses.
Disappointed. There are usually better written and interesting articles published in this space. The “Cardinals are bad too. So, don’t blame David Bell” argument just isn’t persuasive in the least.
If you want to publish a “Rally around David Bell” fluff piece, next time just ask some of his supporters here here to write it. They have stronger arguments to present.
I feel there are few actual Bell supporters on this site. Most just argue against the more ridiculous, inane criticisms of Bell.
I thoroughly enjoyed this article Richard – thank you!
I can see I hurt someone’s feelings the other day. I’ll try to write better. Thanks for weighing in.
Not sure who feelings you hurt, certainly not mine. I am not even a Bell hater. I just think there are better arguments to make than to suggest people advocating for Bell’s dismissal have unrealistic expectations.
Two things can be true at once. The Reds are terrible and David Bell is a bad manager. The front office can’t quickly change the former, but they can absolutely change the latter.
Dunno about judging the full content, but can say I for one at least appreciate the reference to The Who.
PTI made a lengthy Leave it to Beaver discussion their lead in the other day, and even I was gobsmacked at their lack of concern for the 24 year old watching. Reckon the same demo not all there with the geezer rock hook lines, but worked ok for me here!
All that stated, hate to break it to you but David Bell ain’t gonna be the Manager for the next winning Reds team. Just the way it works…
To go similarly old guy, recall when Elaine was told that even though her dream was to marry a doctor, the former med student and to be doctor’s dream was to break up with whoever he was with before he became a doctor and find someone better… and so it shall be (as it always is in pro sports) with the Reds current skipper
We’ve all got our perspectives. I’m in the camp that says Bell isn’t up to the task of MLB Manager. His choices, as noted in many of the comments above, are baffling to me and many others. The additional “connection” to an organization with majority owners who thumb their noses at us as fans on a regular basis. Would a different manager guarantee we’d turn things around? Nope … but it would be a show of good faith to a fanbase who needs to see something from the organization rather than the status quo.
How would changing managers show good faith? I mean, I get it. Those “many others” you speak of are the folks who show up here to complain and rake Bell over the coals. That’s fine. If you really think batting Tyler Stevenson 5th instead of 4th is a fire-able offense, have at it. It’s been largely proven that lineups have a minimal effect on the outcome of a game. Yeah, you want to bat your best 4 or 5 guys at the top of the lineup most of the time, but beyond that, it’s really a non-issue even if the average fan thinks otherwise. And our some of the Reds better hitters right now have limited histories at best.
Tainting David Bell by association because Phil Castellini has been a jerk is a new one for me.
Do you know how many people read this site? Only a precious few of them post here. Be very careful about assuming those “many others” make a convincing argument. They are IMO frustrated fans. And frustration leads to many specious arguments.
But that’s just my perspective.
Reds had dominant elite best starting pitching in 2020 other than 2012 in decades . Fact. They couldnt score a run to help win a game with trevor bauer cy young and bullpen and luis castillo dominating the braves. Who hired the Reds hitting coach???? David Bell
What hitting coach is ruining the Cardinals and sending that franchise to the toilet of the NL.
Who hired Turner Ward??? Who ruined the Reds offense????
David Bell did
Why does no one hold david bell accountable for hiring a guy that destroyed reds offense???
Turner ward was hired by David Bell
Ask nick Senzel
The St. Louis Cardinals have an OPS+ of 103 this season. The St. Louis Cardinals have an ERA+ of 92 this season, which ranks 13th in the NL and 25th in the league.
I’d say that Turner Ward and the Cardinals offense isn’t the reason they are eleventy-billion games under .500 right now.
Reds changed managers twice in 1958 and twice in 1959 until we got Hutch, who was a really good manager.
Reds changed managers in 1965 and twice in 1966 until we got Bristol, who a pretty good manager.
Reds changed managers in 1969 then we got Sparky who was great manager in 1970s.
Reds changed managers in 1978 and that was a mistake.
I’m not convinced it’s been largely proven that lineups CANNOT have significant impacts. I believe the evidence is that they’re unlikely to have much of an impact in any given game, with various assumptions built into the equation, but I’m confident the models will show that if you consistently have it *significantly* wrong, game after game after game, you will indeed lose more games. And those models will not take into consideration how demoralizing it might be for a team to see a guy consistently hitting in the top half just because he’s paid a lot of money, or how lazy it could make that guy if he never has to fear batting 8th or 9th no matter how bad he is. Statistical models do not factor psychology into the equation. They aren’t real life. No statistical model would have predicted what Senzel has done lately. The model would say it’s fine to leave him at the bottom and bat Fairchild at the top, because statistically they’re about the same player, but our eyes say otherwise. Bell should have noticed the same thing we noticed. Leadership matters.
Oldtimer – “Reds changed managers in 1978 and that was a mistake.”
I agree on that one. Should have fired the GM instead (Dick Wagner). 🙂
“Most sabermetric analyses of batting order find that the most optimal batting order is worth between five and 15 runs over a typical batting order.”
“Complaining about batting order for one game is kind of silly, but that can be said of lots of singular decisions in baseball. Over a full season, consistently using sub-optimal strategies adds up. Is batting order significant enough to analyze and (as is our right as fans) complain about? I dunno. Let’s reconvene after the next time a team misses the playoffs by one game, or, even better after a team puts the pitchers in the cleanup spot for a whole season.”
So that’s what we’re talking about. About a win over the entire season at the extremes. And Bell’s lineups is unlikely to be “significantly wrong” because none of these players have a significant history.
Again, this is about figuring out the future. An extra win or two isn’t moving the needle on this season. This season is a laboratory.
“This season is a lavatory”.
Fine, then let’s experiment by trying a different manager. We have already seen what this one can and can not do.
Do you know how many people read this site?
Fewer and fewer if this site starts to become a mouthpiece for the Castellinis. We already have Charlie Goldschmidt, John Sadak and Barry Larkin for that role.
Lol. A mouthpiece for the Castellini’s? Buddy the Castellini’s wouldn’t take three whole seconds to talk to anyone here. Heck, Bob talks to the big media in Cincinnati once every other year.
Way too many people think that not wanting to burn someone at the stake means you are defending the front office or the manager or the owner rather than maybe there’s more nuance to things.
And yeah, I do know how many people read this site. And I also know exactly where they are coming from and how they are getting here. And it’s got nothing at all to do with anything that you think it does.
J – Pretty good post.
“Fine, then let’s experiment by trying a different manager. We have already seen what this one can and can not do.”
Haha Being a passionate Reds fan and not liking the way David Bell manages does not mean that we have something personal against him. I guess I can only speak for myself but I have nothing against him as a person. I just don’t think he should be manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Other than that I wish him and his family the best. I’m sure most on here feel that way.
“Most sabermetric analyses of batting order find that the most optimal batting order is worth between five and 15 runs over a typical batting order.”
The word “typical” actual matters here. A typical manager doesn’t use lineups where he’s pinch hitting for the #3and #4 hitters because they’re part-time player and he doesn’t trust them in key situations A typical manager doesn’t have his hottest hitter batting 6th or 7th game after game. A typical manager doesn’t have Pham hitting third every single game. Etc. Etc. Sabermetrics don’t ask “how many runs can a manager cost his team by doing crazy things typical managers wouldn’t do.” That’s the analysis we need to see.
Also, as I said, those analyses don’t factor in any sort of psychological effects of players who feel they cannot possibly move up or down in the order no matter what they do. Some guys will start pressing. Other guys will get lazy. Sabermetrics won’t take any of that into consideration.
Last season was a lavatory, Votto, but this season is a laboratory.
McClain has hit for the cycle tonight. CEC with two, two run homers. De la Cruz with three hits. Patience, folks – they are making it very difficult to be kept in AAA.
They shouldn’t be.
So this McLain thing???!
What is it going to take for the Red’s to realize that they have three very special players in triple A. When they come up, soon I hope, they all 3 may fail for awhile. However, how many players on the current roster have a bigger upside than Mclain, CES and EDLC? I can name four pitchers after that it gets tough, I suppose India and maybe Stephenson. I just wish the Red’s would be like other organizations and take a risk once in awhile.
Once Bell’s tenure is finished with the Reds he will never manage another major league team. You can book it. Same with Dick Williams, he will never be another MLB general manager. Neither of these guys were hired on merit and everyone knows it.
This should tell anyone all they need to know.
I find that not recognizing what Dick Williams did for this organization stunning. Where have the thoughtful Reds fans gone?
Perhaps they are following thoughtful writers.
Lol. I knew that there would be a record response to this post. Thank you Richard for swatting the hornets nest and stirring up some engaging conversation.
I guess I think about it this way. Lineup construction may not matter, but playing time and consistency and confidence is important for players, especially young ones. DB does a terrible job of showing confidence. How do you know if inexperienced (young) players can hit both handed pitchers, if they get pinch hit for every time the other hand comes in, especially when they have been a couple of the more clutch guys, (Friedl and Fraley). Why is Newman, a known below average commodity, playing more than Barrero at his natural position? How do they know what they really have, or don’t have, without consistent playing time at the position he played all through the minors. Just because he is good athlete does not make him a major league CF. The team leading the division traded Newman to give a young guy, with higher upside the opportunity to sink or swim. Who is more committed to rebuilding? If Barrero does not cut it, there is allegedly more AAA superstars on the way so they may as well let him sink or swim. I am pretty much sure Newman will not help them win more games, but DB insists on giving him more regular playing time that most other MLB teams would, maybe Oakland and Washington could be the exception, for some reason. Young guys do not get a chance to get into any groove or comfort level with their position or standing within the team. The when they do get their chance maybe there is so much pressing going on they struggle more than normal, they know they have 2 ABS to get it done because the pinch hitter is already warming up.
Agree. This one baffles me.
Good post Chris. you listed the reasons I don’t like Bell and they are logical.
People can (and do) complain about Bell endlessly. Some have good points, some don’t and some have both. He was hired by ownership, paid by ownership and continues to be the manager and get paid, you guessed it, by ownership. If Bell is indeed as bad as many make him out to be then the real culpert here is ownership. Bell and the wins and losses this year are largely a sideshow for me. For me it is guys staying healthy, young guys learning and getting better. The guys in AAA are going to get called up this year at some point so I am not worried if they get called up a few weeks later than I or others might like. This franchise has historically been average or really bad for over 30 years. I am very tired of waiting for something better than average and not willing to waste tons of energy on Bell. Next year will tell much more and key will be what ownership does with the money saved from Votto/Moose contracts. Who knows maybe they will spend some of that money on a new manager and make a bunch of people on here very happy.
@Richard, thanks for the thought-provoking article and for responding to so many of the comments. This is the kind of passionate debate that makes our country great! From my perspective, the future looks a lot brighter for the Reds than it has for a very long time.
As long as ownership follows thru, I think so. I have my doubts about that, but we’ll see. Thank you for reading.
I enjoyed the article you wrote as well. It does make one pause and think.
I am stubborn when it comes to analytics. First one to admit it. I find the line up construction interesting. Thanks again for the write up
Thought provoking for sure. Reds fans are a passionate bunch. This is an interesting team and an interesting time for the franchise.
“This is the kind of passionate debate that makes our country great! ”
Haha!! Ain’t it the truth. 🙂
The padres vs reds series drew over 110,000 in San Diego. And this was a weekday series!! If the games were at GABP they would be lucky to draw 25 k. And that is the main problem with our Cincinnati Reds! I just don’t think the interest is there in the city anymore. I think it has been a combination of the strike in the 90’s and then a quarter century of losing.
I’m not sure what Bell can do about it or even ownership’s at this point? The reds are here until 2036 at least which honestly isn’t too long of a time in the grand scheme of the Reds history. Can the red’s turn it around by them?…. Sure but unlikely given the state of baseball right now. I know there is some excitement about the young guys in the minors now but I will believe it when I see it. We just haven’t been able develop good position players for decades now. Particularly outfielders
You can’t see the differences in what the Padres ownership has done/is doing and what the Reds ownership has done and see why more people in the city are energized to attend games? I mean, the two franchises are on two ends of the spectrum as far as what ownership is doing (and neither is a large market team). Doesn’t that explain at least a significant part of the disparity in attendance and interest? I don’t think I would write Cincinnati off as “there is no interest in the city anymore.” And “I’m not sure what Bell can do about it or even ownership’s at this point.” I mean, if you want attendance like the Padres, a good place to start would be do what the Padres are doing, right?
I am in no way a Bell supporter, but what would you like the Reds to do at this point. Fire him and hire another unproven manager or someone like Barry Larkin just to continue to lose this year or would it make sense to let Bell continue to lose this year and then next year find a new manger to take the Reds into the new era. If the Reds go into the off season with a young core that preformed this year and they actually start to spend money maybe a proven manager might actually want to come here.
I think this is the best piece you’ve ever written!
Interesting piece Richard, and you make some good points. I’m somewhat indifferent on David Bell as manager, but there are two habits that drive me crazy.
First, why does Kevin Newman who is clearly not part of the next good Reds team, get so much playing time in favor of Jose Barrero who very well could be? If this was a Larkin / Stillwell situation I get it. It’s not. I don’t. Free Jose and let’s find out if he can succeed in the majors the way he did in the minors.
Second, how did we get to the one inning per reliever rule? I understand that it’s more prevalent for all teams now, and I understand the usage / fatigue reasoning, but I do not like it. It feels like Bell is just switching out pitchers until he finds that one who can lose the game today. When a reliever has an easy, 10 pitch inning, leave him in! Let him do it for another inning (or two). No, he may not be available tomorrow, but then that guy you were bringing in to replace him will be. Using four or five relievers almost every night, with a bullpen that’s often suspect at best, is a recipe for disaster. Yes, there is room for debate on this, but I’m not a fan of this detail of Bell’s bullpen management. I’m not in the fire Bell camp, just indifferent, but I hate this strategy. Please stop.
Well, Jose has played in 26 games so far, 5 more than Newman. I honestly think Barrerro is getting his chance–he’s just not seizing the opportunity right now.
Yeah, I don’t care for Bell’s use of Newman, either. I’m sure he’s trying to keep a harmonious clubhouse, and giving everyone some playing time keeps players involved and ready when they do come off the bench. People like to complain that this isn’t little league and that’s just silly. This is major league baseball and everyone up there has skills. If they are there, you use them.
And maybe that’s more of a question for the GM, not Bell.
@CFD the issue is we have 3 starters in our rotation that are very good but they are young. If one of them develop an injury we are in real trouble. Look at our 4 and 5 starters. If we lost one of our top three who would replace them. There is no depth in the system. None!!! The pen is finishing 3 to 4 innings a night. Our 4 and 5 starters are luck to give us 4 innings a night. Bell is handcuffed by this lack of options.
Almost 100 comments in this thread . “mission accomplished “ I suppose.
120 and counting 🙂
Lots of interesting stuff here from many different angles. All I’ve got to add is that the Reds better play a decent game on Friday because I just burned my 1 week free trial to Apple+ TV so I can watch it and not have to pay (presuming I remember to cancel before the 7 days expire!) 😉
And yeah, you have a preexisting Apple account or create one and provide a payment source (credit card or Apple Pay) upfront. If you own an iPhone, iPad, or Mac of some sort, that account works with no hoops beyond providing or confirming the payment info. It took me no more than a minute using the same account I use with my iPad.
I just got a three month free trial. Don’t know how that happened but I’ll take it. 🙂
Richard you’re taking a beating here. It’s like a Jerry Springer special but without the expletives (thanks for censoring Doug).
First, always love your columns Richard. Very thoughtful, researched, and well written.
Second, I have no issue with David Bell. Here’s the way I like to look at it: Sure, his decisions are questionable sometimes, but do I have all the info he has when making the decision? Umm…..no. I can watch the game, I can look at the box score, then I go back to doing my 9 to 5. Bell is living it, probably 12+ hours a day. He knows infinitely more than me, and I’ll leave it at that.
Third, reiterating other comments here, the roster is weak, it’s a rebuilding year. Bringing Sparky back to life wouldn’t get this team 70 wins.
Finally, I’ll assume you selected your profile pic because it channels Brick Tamland. Kudos there.
Newman starting today instead of Barrero – against a RH’er. Bell isn’t the guy to handle the prospects. I rest my case.
You’ve made this argument before and, then as now, you ignore India, Stephenson, Friedl, Diaz, Greene, Ashcraft, Lodolo and Steer. I don’t know what the deal is with Barrero. Maybe the RH in question throws a really good slider on the outside corner. Maybe Barrero is having health issues. Maybe Bell just thinks Newman will give him a better game tonight. Maybe Bell knows that the organization is moving on from Barrero at SS with McClain and EDLC in the wings. Or maybe it’s just a bad decision; all managers make them from time to time. I will say that the fact that Bell makes decisions with which commenters here disagree is not, by any stretch of the imagination, evidence of anything but fans being fans.
On flip side if we go by what Bell does Barrero hits right handed pitching better than Left. Newman hits left handed pitching better than right. Are we (not you, in general) I thought analytics wa how Bell managed? This in my opinion says it doesn’t.
Not disagreeing with your comment. This type of thought process doesn’t hold when Bell makes other decisions based on analytics
@gmr- I think your option of the Reds-have moved on from Barrero is the winner. Newman obviously isnt a starting SS. Hes a placeholder and back up and utility guy and the fact hes starting over Barrero the day after McLain hits for the cycle and is blowing up AAA informs us all. Matt McLain could be in the lineup at SS against the Mets on Tuesday.
Kevin: I mentioned in an earlier comment that MLB managers have access to information (analytics, if you will) a lot more detailed than simple handedness splits. Probably stuff like a hitter’s tendencies versus specific pitchers and teams or even types of pitchers. He may be managing using analytics, just not simple ones. Or not. We don’t know what we don’t know.
I agree with much Richard says in his post; yet, I also agree with a number of the comments which seem contrary to the post.
My position is that doing the best a person can with the hand they have been dealt does not equate with that same person being the best person to lead the team going forward. David Bell was hired to lead a team hopefully contending team of veterans. I am not going to contest the job he did doing that.
However, now the team is in a fully developmental phase; and, there is a difference between being the caretaker in that stage and being the person to lead the team as it moves forward. Just as it is said to be better to trade a player a year too soon as opposed to a year too late, I believe it is better to have the person the organization hopes can lead this team when the window is open in place a year early rather than a year late.
The team should declare the manager position open at the end of the season and conduct a search that based on the organization’s opinion of Bell might or might not include him as a candidate.
Jim, I always find your posts sensible and well thought out. I have never felt like you were just trying to get a reaction. You and Mary Beth are by far my favorite contributors. Thanks for all you do.
I would also include the time capsules by Mr. Erts. The other writers I can take or leave. I mostly come here to read the different posters. Old School is perhaps m favorite. But I really like LDS too. I enjoy reading Kevin H., Mark V., Melvin, Greenmtred, J., Luke, Mark, Jim T., Red Nat, Red Future, Wkchud, CfD300, Big ail’ Red, optimist, Luke J, BK, William, Bill and so many others.
@V4L. Kind words from a great poster. If I remember correctly, you had a great loss. It’s baseball and a diversion, but a passionate one and thats ok. I do believe Reds are trending positive. Hope springs eternal and a couple great weather spring games heading our way today and tomorrow.