As the 2021 season continued to fall apart for the Cincinnati Reds, a series of very interesting developments began to land in the spotlight. Last week, our jaws hit the floor as Kyle Boddy parted ways with the organization, with philosophical differences being cited as to why he no longer would be around as the pitching coordinator. It seemed to be the first of many important moves within the hierarchy of management, and with manager David Bell out of contract at season’s end, there was almost an expectation that a major shakeup was just beginning.
Maybe that won’t be the case after all. On Wednesday, the Reds and Bell agreed to a two-year contract extension, with C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reporting that there’s an expectation that the coaching staff will stick around with him.
Reds manager David Bell has agreed to a two-year contract extension, he said on Wednesday. Bell said he expects his coaching staff to return.— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) September 22, 2021
It’s easy to focus on how this team has collapsed as the reasoning behind why a change should have been made. Of course, this is the Cincinnati Reds about whom we’re talking, and they finished the 2020 season above .500 in the regular season and, barring more complete collapses, are about to do so again this year. So, as this organization continues to merely have baby steps to celebrate, I suppose there’s a decent train of thought behind the idea that maintaining continuity around incremental change is very much better than the boatload of awfulness we’ve witnessed for the bulk of the last 25+ seasons.
It could also be a case of valuing the coaching staff as a whole more than the individual parts, and an acknowledgment that the best way to keep prized pitching coach Derek Johnson is to make sure Bell is still around. With the quality of arms on the current starting staff - all of whom have team control for 2022 - and with the talents of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo on the cusp, that might have overridden any other frustrations with Bell’s management down the stretch.
There’s also the admission of what Bell did not have at his disposal this year. The bullpen was an abject disaster after zero investment from ownership prior to the season, and the giveaways of Archie Bradley and Raisel Iglesias turned that into an anchor that dragged this team through the mud for many a month. Down the stretch, he also was forced to deal with the absences of Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Mike Moustakas, Tyler Naquin, and Shogo Akiyama, and the offense cratered as a result.
I dunno. I’m one who firmly believes that much more of a team’s success and failure falls on the shoulders of the front office than the dugout, with those in the dugout more in charge of keeping what’s actually there from burning down. So, I never really put too much stock into the individual play decisions of a manager in terms of how it plays into the overall scheme of things, since it’s the front office who’s in charge of providing the players to get the job done. So, I’m mostly happy with this, especially since Joey Votto has often lauded David Bell’s job with the players.
Either way, it’s one large domino that’s already fallen for a Reds offseason that’s going to need a lot more to get flicked to make 2022 a season worth following.