It does seem a bit strange that the Cincinnati Reds would chase a third baseman, what with Eugenio Suarez fresh off a breakout All Star campaign and top prospect Nick Senzel already in the fold. It seems even stranger that they’d go after a 46 year old one, but that’s just what they did in signing David Bell on Sunday.
Perhaps it was because Bell has 10 career walks in Great American Ball Park against just 2 strikeouts. More likely, though, it’s because the team wants Bell as their new manager, since that’s at least what their press release hinted at earlier today.
David Bell has been named the new manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He will be introduced at a press conference on Monday at 11:00 a.m. pic.twitter.com/BdIlLCGKMG— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 21, 2018
Bell, the longtime infielder, cut his initial managing chops on the Cincinnati farm, managing AA Carolina and AAA Louisville for a time prior to jumping onto big league coaching staffs in both Chicago and St. Louis. He’ll join the Reds after a stint serving as VP of Player Development with the San Francisco Giants, which means he’ll come to the Cincinnati dugout with a rare mix of, well, dugout experience as well as front office experience, which is something not many other managerial candidates could boast.
Of course, the rumors were flying earlier in the week that the Reds were hoping to hire former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi before he withdrew his name from the process, meaning Bell might have only been Cincinnati’s second choice among their finalists. Girardi, for what it’s worth, withdrew his name from contention for the Texas Rangers job today, too, meaning he’ll likely wait another year to see if any better [cough Chicago cough] jobs come available.
In Bell, the Reds now have another rookie big league manager, as they did with Bryan Price through those lovely years. Of course, the misery the franchise slogged through on Price’s watch was largely deliberate, whereas they’ll theoretically be reinvesting into the team at ‘record’ levels in future seasons under Bell’s watch as they try to dig their way out of the NL Central cellar after five straight last-place rebuilding campaigns. At least, one can hope.
Odds are, Bell will bring on a staff that won’t make nostalgic Reds fans celebrate. His time in the St. Louis organization has many wondering if he’ll bring former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on to be his bench coach, as the two served in the reverse order in Busch Stadium for several years. Despite Bell’s roots in Cincinnati and his father’s extensive time with the organization, Bell never played for the Reds, meaning his staff likely won’t be anything akin to getting the mid-90’s Reds band back together. That said, he appears to be a plenty competent hire and one who deserved a chance to be a big league manager for someone at some point soon, and we’re left hoping that he can emerge on the scene with prowess and success instead of watching the Reds go with an experienced candidate that already comes to the job with an extensive reputation.
That could work. It really might. We’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope he’s got the phone numbers of every major pitching free agent on speed dial, and maybe even some dirt on them for leverage. Otherwise, who the Reds hired today will likely still be nothing more than a footnote in franchise history down the road, since that’s ultimately still the major focus of the offseason.