Reds: David Bell’s approach has earned a multi-year contract extension

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 10: David Bell #25 of the Cincinnati Reds watches from the dugout. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 10: David Bell #25 of the Cincinnati Reds watches from the dugout. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

David Bell has his fair share of detractors, and goodness knows that not every decision the Cincinnati Reds‘ skipper has made in 2021 has turned to gold, but there’s no denying that he’s playing to win. Bell’s decisions paid off in droves last night, and his approach this season should earn the Reds’ manager a multi-year contract extension.

Last night, we saw Bell’s strategic approach on full display. Bell made the unpopular decision to remove Wade Miley from the game before the left-hander was able to close out the fifth inning. Miley did not take kindly to that and made his displeasure known as he went back to the dugout.

Bell’s decision paid off, however, as Shogo Akiyama (who entered the game as part of a double-switch) made an inning-ending sliding catch to preserve the tie. Bell also made the decision to pull Mike Moustakas out of the on-deck circle with left-hander Steven Okert warming in the Marlins’ bullpen.

Instead, Bell turned to the right-handed hitting Tyler Stephenson who’s two-run double scored Tyler Naquin and Joey Votto and opened up a 5-2 lead for the Reds. Bell also went to Michael Lorenzen for the five-out save after the normally reliable Mychal Givens struggled in the eighth inning.

Reds manager David Bell has earned a multi-year contract extension.

Few managers in all of baseball have handled the rigors of the 2021 season better than David Bell. Were it not for Gabe Kapler’s efforts out in San Francisco, the Cincinnati skipper would likely take home NL Manager of the Year honors.

Still, there’s no denying that what Bell has done this season. The third-year manager has dealt with umpteen different challenges this season, not the least of which was losing Cy Young Award-winner Trevor Bauer and his two best relievers (Archie Bradley and Raisel Iglesias).

Bell’s bullpen was among the worst in baseball until the team’s front office realized that the team was not going to fold like a cheap tent. Before the trade deadline, Cincinnati added Givens, Luis Cessa, and Justin Wilson to the NL’s last-ranked bullpen. The Reds’ relief corps still ranks 14th in the NL in ERA (5.20), however, over the last month, the bullpen’s ERA is just 4.00.

Reds manager David Bell has navigated a myriad of injuries this season.

If managing one of the worst bullpens in the league and still maintaining a chance to make the postseason aren’t impressive enough, let’s look at the insane amount of injuries to key players that Reds’ manager David Bell has had to deal with this season.

Joey Votto, who’s currently in the NL MVP conversation, missed a month of action with a broken hand. Mike Moustakas, who was supposed to be the team’s everyday third baseman, just recently returned from the IL after bring out of action since mid-May.

Opening Day centerfielder Nick Senzel hasn’t played since the middle of May either, and it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see the former first-round pick back on the major league diamond this season. Aristides Aquino, thought to be a key contributor off the bench, missed over two months with a broken hamate bone.

Outfielder Nick Castellanos, who’s second in the league in batting average, missed three weeks with a microfracture in his wrist. Castellanos’ running mate and fellow All-Star Jesse Winker is currently on the IL and there’s no timetable for his return.

And those are just the position players. Starters Wade Miley and Sonny Gray have both found their way onto the IL this season (Gray’s actually been on the injured list three times). Fellow hurlers Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone, both of whom have been key to what little success the Cincinnati relief corps has had in 2021, have missed significant time this season.

Two of David Bell’s biggest stars have also fallen short of expectations.

Not only has David Bell had to navigate a less-than-optimal bullpen (due to cost-cutting on the part of the front office and ownership) and a plethora of injuries to some of his key performers, but two of the Cincinnati’s biggest stars have fallen woefully short of expectations.

Luis Castillo, who’s righted the ship since his struggles at the beginning of the season, began the season going 1-8 through his first 11 starts and owned a 7.22 ERA while allowing batters to hit .321 off him. Castillo has played much better of late, going 6-4 in his last 15 games and posting a 2.73 ERA while punching out 97 batters.

The same turnaround has not happened for Eugenio Suarez, who’s goal was hammer 50 home runs this season. While’s Geno’s power hasn’t gone anywhere, he has 23 home runs on the season, the slugger is hitting just .171/.257/.371 with a 58 OPS+ and -2.8 WAR.

David Bell has a team-option on his current contract, and the Cincinnati Reds would be foolish not to pick that up after the season (or before the 2021 campaign ends). But, the more prudent move would be to lock up Bell and his coaching staff for the foreseeable future.

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After learning the ropes during his rookie season in 2019, the Reds’ manager dealt with all kinds of trials during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. It appears as though we are finally seeing David Bell figure out this managing thing, and he should be rewarded for it with a long-term contract extension.