David Bell: Year One
In his debut year as an MLB manager, David Bell has succeeded in grand fashion in his short time as the skipper of the Cincinnati Reds. His managerial track record being nonexistent makes it difficult to bring in a home run staff, but that didn’t stop Bell from making the moves he wanted.
Recently, I wrote about how the Reds stole the Brewers pitching coach, Derek Johnson. It is only appropriate to take a second to realize how big this hire is. Not only did the Reds steal a pitching coach, they stole a coach that belonged to their biggest up-and-coming threat in their division.
The National League Central will be the powerhouse of the league in 2019. There are the Cubs, who have been solid for a whole three years, the Cardinals, who are perennial powerhouses, the Pirates, who randomly decide when they want to be good since ending their feud with the Royals as the worst team in baseball and the Brewers, who have become the powerhouse of the league.
Well the Reds are tired of being the laughingstock of the league. Outside of 2010, 2012 and — I guess — 2013, when the notorious Cueto chant rocked Cincinnati baseball into a half-decade of oblivion the city has lived in, miserable is an understatement for the Queen City.
New manager and Moeller graduate David Bell has made quick work of his position. Before we get into his achievements and accolades, him being a Moeller graduate does not matter, it is just a cool fact.
Bell was an accomplished major league player: never great, but never bad. He was a journeyman third baseman, but not in the “I can’t hit, but I can play defense” category; he was just about as average as they get, in a good way.
The New Guys
The Reds needed to improve on pitching, drastically. They decided to contact none other than their division rival, who was easily better than them by a (how long is the distance from Milwaukee to Cincinnati?) mile. Yet the Reds, with a far inferior pitching staff, stole him. Now onto hitting.
The Reds scored Turner Ward as their new pitching coach. Between the hirings of Johnson and Ward, the Reds now have the pitching and hitting coach of the two best teams in the National League from 2018.
Ward has helped the Dodgers reach the last two World Series. Ward has helped players revive their careers. The fact that Bell could convince a coach to leave 75-and-sunny, with a perennial winning record, to head to who knows what the weather is and perennial last place team, should speak to who Bell is, and the influence he has on people.
While the offense was not the problem in Cincinnati, it never helps hiring a better pitching coach. This move should be looked at as a move for the team as a whole, and not just a hitting change. Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and more-than-likely future Red Scooter Gennett are already pretty good at that.
What Does This All Mean?
The Reds are making moves. For most teams in most sports, this would be another “Ok. Cool. Now what?” article. But for a team and a city that has been expecting so much and receiving so little, Bell’s immediate moves inspire hope.
If the Reds fall flat next year, it is crucial to not blame Bell. How many coaches can come into a city with a losing culture and magically make them win? Almost none. The next moves will not be on Bell, because he cannot sign a new ace, but if the new look Reds are for real, he will have a big say in the next move, as he did with his coaches.
Patrick Corbin is the obvious candidate. The only problem is that the Yankees might have a bit more money than us. If Corbin is off the table, then the answer is in literally anyone that can produce a solid season, preferably with some veteran advice, to launch the team into competition.
The hill to climb is still steep, but it looks like the Reds are up to the task. Bell, Ward and Johnson will be the leaders of what we all hope to be a new look club in 2019. The division will be tough to win, but the key is to at least show that the team is competitive. If the Reds can at least put up a fight in a tough division, the future bodes well.
“From Our Haus to Yours”