For those fans looking for a scapegoat, feel free to continue blaming Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell. However, the problem with this team does not lie in the manager’s office, but in the front office with Nick Krall, and to a greater extent, team owner Bob Castellini.
It’s customary for fans of all sports to run to Twitter and other social media apps to vent their frustrations when their favorite team loses a game. Reds Country seems particularly fond of criticizing Cincinnati skipper David Bell. However, their frustration is misplaced.
Reds fans should be frustrated at the front office, not David Bell.
Criticizing a manager’s decision has been part of the game of baseball since the first pitch was thrown. Fans oftentimes think that they’ve got all the answers, and grow increasingly frustrated when a skipper goes to his bullpen too often, not often enough, or the cleanup hitter has gone 1-for-15 over his last five games.
David Bell made the unpopular decision last night to turn to Amir Garrett with the Reds trailing 5-3. Don’t forget, this is the same Amir Garrett who seemed to have rebounded from a rough start and had allowed just three run in his previous 10 outings and recorded 12 strikeouts.
Garrett was shellacked during his one inning of work, allowing a four runs on four hits including two home runs. The Reds left-hander now owns a 9.56 ERA on the season. But, who was David Bell supposed to turn to in that situation? The only Cincinnati reliever with a sub-3.50 ERA is Tejay Antone.
The shortstop position is another point of contention among Reds fans.
Reds fans have grown increasingly frustrated with the situation at shortstop this season. After failing to secure a true shortstop this offseason, Cincinnati rolled the dice and chose Eugenio Suarez to play the position left vacant after Freddy Galvis signed elsewhere this past winter. Suarez hadn’t played the position in years, but the Reds made the decision anyway.
The results have been about what you’d expect. Suarez has been a poor defender at shortstop, logging -6 defensive runs saved (DRS) in 265.1 innings according to FanGraphs. By comparison, Suarez has 2 DRS in 171.2 innings while fielding third base. The numbers are clear – Eugenio Suarez is not a shortstop.
We won’t even get into the aspect of Nick Senzel playing center field. Essentially, the Cincinnati Reds went into the season with four third baseman (Suarez, Senzel, Mike Moustakas, and Jonathan India), three of whom are playing out of position. That’s not the fault of David Bell, but poor roster construction.
There’s also the matter of Luis Castillo’s hideous performance through the first two months of the season. The Reds ace is 1-8 with a 7.22 ERA. Now, I’m not going to blame Castillo’s poor performance on ownership, as few if any fans would have predicted their Opening Day starter would have been this bad. But there’s no need to blame Bell for Castillo’s poor showing either.
Yes, it’s increasingly frustrating to watch the stellar play of Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker appear to be meaningless when the bullpen surrenders 13 runs including five homers, but let’s be sure that the frustration you feel is directed appropriately.
I’m not saying you’re incorrect to question some of David Bell’s decision making. Heck, I’ve even done that myself. But be careful blaming the manager for lack of performance on behalf of the players and poor roster construction from the front office. An overwhelming majority of managers in David Bell’s position would be making the exact same decisions.