The Cincinnati Reds are relevant once again. With the spotlight comes increased scrutiny from the media and the fanbase, and manager David Bell heard plenty of it on Sunday.
The Reds skipper actually pinch hit for Joey Votto in the seventh inning during yesterday's game, which is something that almost never happens.
At the time, social media was abuzz with criticism of Bell's decision to lift a future Hall of Famer in favor of a player who's had his fair share of struggles lately (Jonathan India). While it's fair to question Bell's decision, he didn't make the move without the information to back it up.
David Bell's eyebrow-raising decision to pinch hit for Joey Votto wasn't reckless.
With left-hander A.J. Minter on the bump for the Atlanta Braves, David Bell favored the right-handed bat of Jonthan India over the left-handed hitting Joey Votto.
I have to admit, I was floored myself. Votto has been, for the better part of his career, one of those players you just don't pinch hit for regardless of the situtation. But it's a new era of Reds baseball, and Bell was warranted in his decision.
According to Baseball Savant, Votto was 0-for-6 against Minter with four strikeouts. On Saturday, Minter made Votto look absolutely silly, striking out the six-time All-Star with just four pitches; all of which were cutters. Had the home plate umpire not been so generous, Minter could have punched out Votto on just three pitches.
Now, it's not as if India has fared much better. Heading into yesterday's contest, the Reds infielder was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. India would actually go down looking during the at-bat on a called strike three that could have been ruled a ball.
Reds fans better get used to David Bell's way of doing things.
Hindsight is always 20/20. However, knowing the results of Jonathan India's at-bat probably would not have influenced David Bell's decision one way or the other. Why? Because you never what Joey Votto would have done in that at-bat, so it's pointless to debate.
What is of relevance, however, is the way in which Bell made his decision. He didn't let the player's standing within the organization and fanbase's love of Votto dictate his choice. Speaking to The Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans (subscription required) yesterday after the game, Bell had this to say:
"He (Joey Votto) may not have liked it or agreed with it. He trusted it. We talked through it quite a bit which I really appreciate. It made it easier for me to make a really tough decision that I thought was best. He understood the thinking."- David Bell, Reds manager
With a roster as talented as the Reds, Bell will have to continue to make difficult decisions. Just like Joey Votto, Reds fans may not like or agree with Bell's decision, but it wasn't without merit. Look for the Cincinnati Reds to have even more difficult decisions to make as the season progresses.