Reds fans are misdirecting their anger at David Bell as Cincy continues to flounder

How much is David Bell to blame for the Reds' early-season struggles?
Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell
Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are not playing up to the level that they're capable of. The team is floundering below .500 and has been for quite some time. This has left a lot of Reds fans feeling as if manager David Bell is to blame.

Apart from the handful of offseason signings the front office made this offseason and moving on from Joey Votto, this year's Reds' team looked similar to the 82-win ball club from last season. And the Reds barely missed the playoffs in 2023 after coming up just short during the final week of the season.

During the offseason, the Reds were unusually active. Starting pitcher Frankie Montas has had some ups and down through the first two months of 2024 and reliever Brent Suter has been decent out of the bullpen. But that’s about all there is to be happy with from the winter.

Reds fans are misdirecting their anger at David Bell as Cincy continues to flounder

Bell has made some questionable decisions with the lineup this year. Outfielder Stuart Fairchild has has more strikeouts (117) than hits (88), yet is finding himself in the starting lineup almost every day. But without players like Noelvi Marte (suspension), Matt McLain (shoulder surgery), and TJ Friedl (fractured wrist and then fractured thumb) to turn to, Bell's options are limited.

Bell's bullpen has also struggled. The Reds have only one reliever with 15-plus appearances and an ERA under 4.00 — Buck Farmer. Both Emilio Pagán and Nick Martinez, who collectively signed for $42 million this offseason, have struggled mightily this season.

The Reds' offseason trade acquisition, Santiago Espinal, has not lived up to the billing either. And until this past week, Jeimer Candelario has failed to live up to the lofty $45 million contract he signed this winter. Candelario has a 1.201 OPS over the last seven games, but is hitting just .229 on the season and is second on the team in strikeouts.

The blame for the Reds' early-season struggles can’t be placed solely on Bell. The Reds manager has nearly all the same players from last season, but injuries have definitely played a role in the Reds' struggles. Bell is in a position where he is doing all that he can to make the team a contender. But if the team isn’t made up of contenders, there isn’t much to do.

The Reds' ownership didn’t put Bell in a position to succeed and build off last season's successes. There's hope that the Reds season turns around, but that's hard to see at the moment.

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