Cincinnati Reds: Stop blaming the manager when players underperform

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 10: Manager David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds watches his team play an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 10: Manager David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds watches his team play an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

David Bell is not the sole reason for the Reds early-season struggles.

It’s already started. We’re three games into the 2020 season and the anti-David Bell crowd is already chastising the in-game decision making of the Cincinnati Reds manager. The Reds started the season 1-2, squandering two fantastic performances from Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer. However, rather than hold the players accountable, some fans seem to think Bell is the problem.

Full disclosure, I loved the David Bell hire last season. While the idea of Joe Girardi was intriguing, in the end, I think the Reds made the correct decision when they named Bell the team’s manager. That said, I’m realistic enough to know that every decision he makes isn’t fool-proof. However, not every decision is the worst in baseball history, as some fans would have you believe.

Bell pulled Castillo six innings into a brilliant start on Saturday night and replaced his ace with reliever Robert Stephenson. Some fans argued that Bell should’ve left Castillo in to pitch the seventh inning.

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It was certainly an option. Castillo had reached 91 pitches, and having an abbreviated summer camp, it seemed reasonable to lift the right-hander from the game. As it turned out, Austin Romine cut the Cincinnati lead to one run with home run off Stephenson, and the former first-round pick would face the three batter minimum before being pulled for Michael Lorenzen.

Lorenzen entered with one out and induced a ground ball from infielder Jonathan Schoop. With a runner on, Lorenzen floated an 88-MPH changeup in to two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera, who crushed it into left field, giving the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 lead.

Thankfully, the Reds were able to tie the game in the bottom of the inning on a Curt Casali homer, only to see Jacoby Jones take closer Raisel Iglesias deep in the top of the ninth. Jones’ homer was the difference and the Tigers emerged victorious by the final of 6-4.

Nowhere in the previous four paragraphs will you read anything about David Bell stepping into the batter’s box, striking out, falling behind in the count, committing an error or throwing a wild pitch. Yet, some people want to blame Bell for the shortcomings of Stephenson, Lorenzen and Iglesias.

Could Bell have left Castillo in the game to begin the seventh inning? Sure. Would it have been the correct decision? Maybe, we don’t know. As fans, we have the benefit of hindsight. Managers have to make in-game decisions as they happen. What if Bell had left Castillo in the game and lost the lead? The question would arise as to why Bell left Castillo in after throwing 91 pitches.

Again, I’m not saying that every in-game decision David Bell makes is correct. But why are we always looking for someone to blame? Could it be that Stephenson just had an off-night? Is Lorenzen dealing with an undisclosed injury? Is Iglesias unable to mentally get over the hump of pitching in a non-save situation? Who knows?

I’ll just say that not one of us knows these players better than David Bell. He’s around them in the clubhouse, on the field and in his office. Few fans are going to have a better understanding of a player’s potential than the manager and coaches.

We saw David Bell steer clear of calling upon Raisel Iglesias today when the game was knotted in the top of the ninth inning. Instead, Bell turned to his most reliable reliever from 2019, Michael Lorenzen. The right-hander promptly gave up a two-run homer to C.J. Cron and the Reds lost the game 3-2.

Does that loss fall on the shoulders of Bell? What about Lorenzen? What about Nick Castellanos, who went down swinging on three straight pitches with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning?

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As fans, we all hate losing. Not as much as the players and coaches, but we hate losing. The last two days were tough ones to be a Cincinnati Reds fan. Three straight dominant starts netted just one win. I get it. I’m frustrated too. But it’s time to stop blaming David Bell when things don’t go the way we think they should.