Should the Reds follow the Mariners' lead and make abrupt coaching adjustments?

Is it time to make a change?
Cincinnati Reds hitting coach Joel McKeithan
Cincinnati Reds hitting coach Joel McKeithan / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds' bats exploded for 13 runs on 18 hits against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. Was this a mirage or a sign of things to come?

Heading into Monday's contest, Cincinnati had one of the worst run-producing offenses in the league. David Bell's club, who've been decimated by injuries, have been hovering around the bottom of the league in many important statistical categories.

Even after the 13-run output against the Rockies, the Reds rank 24th in slugging, 27th in batting average, and 29th in hits. Is it time to make a coaching change?

Should the Reds follow the Mariners' lead and fire Joel McKeithan?

Now there's definitely a host of fans throughout Reds Country who've been calling for Bell to be fired since, well, 2019. The Reds skipper, who has a winning-record in three of the past four seasons, has his fair share of critics among the Cincinnati faithful.

But Bell signed a three-year contract extension last season. Even if the Reds were to make such a drastic move, do those fans who are calling for Bell to be fired really want Freddie Benavides as the interim manager? I didn't think so.

The Seattle Mariners recently made a coaching change. Despite sitting atop the American League West Division, the Mariners dismissed offensive coordinator and bench coach Brant Brown.

The move didn't come without cause. The Mariners have been atrocious this season in a number of offensive categories. The M's rank dead-last in doubles and have more strikeouts than any other team in baseball. Seattle ranks among the bottom of the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Is it time for the Reds to follow suit and dismiss hitting coach Joel McKeithan?

While that might quiet some of the Reds' rabid fanbase who expected this year's team to be better than their 27-33 record, the hard truth is that McKeithan was in the dugout last season when Cincinnati was in the middle of the pack in several offensive categories and ranked among the top-10 in runs scored, on-base percentage, and OPS.

Injuries (and Noelvi Marte's suspension) are the biggest reason for the Reds' struggles

If you're one of those fans who are calling for the Reds to make a coaching change, you're free to continue clamoring for a change. But you can't ignore the fact that Cincinnati has been without two of their top players from last season and a player who should have been in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Matt McLain has been out of the lineup since Opening Day after suffering a shoulder injury. There's hope that he can return later this summer. Until recently, TJ Friedl was out of the lineup while dealing with two separate ailments of his own.

You're talking about the Reds' two best players from 2023. McLain and Friedl combined for 7.2 fWAR according to FanGraphs. McLain led the Reds with a 128 wRC+ and Friedl had a 116 wRC+. Throw in Noelvi Marte's brief tenure in the bigs that saw him post a 120 wRC+ and 0.6 fWAR in 35 games, and you can see why the absence of these three players has been the biggest reason for the Reds' struggles.

Has Elly De La Cruz looked lost at the plate recently? Yes. Is Will Benson swinging at balls that are a foot outside the strike zone? He sure is. Are Nick Martini, Stuart Fairchild, and Santiago Espinal taking on roles that they normally wouldn't? Tell me something I don't know.

Though it's easy to blame the manager or the coaching staff (and sometimes it's even warranted), firing Bell or McKeithan will do nothing to improve this year's team. In fact, it would all but end the Reds' season.

The calendar has just flipped to June, and despite a horrendous performance during the month of May, the Reds have a +3 run differential and are just two games back in the NL Wild Card race. Reds fans hate this word, but patience is of the utmost importance at this stage of the season.

Only one team in the NL Central has a winning record, and the everyone in the division is trying to chase down the Milwaukee Brewers. The Reds' upcoming schedule is loaded with division opponents, giving Cincinnati the perfect opportunity to hop back into the playoff hunt.

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