An interesting discussion surfaced on social media last night as Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell's future was called in question. Would the team really consider cutting ties with Bell after signing him to a contract extension last season?
In short, I believe the answer is no, but given how the Reds offseason and the first 10 games of the 2022 campaign have gone, who knows?
After all, the Reds are off to a rocky start and it's not as if Bell has a long, storied history as manager or even has a winning record (191-203). Cincinnati is 2-8 to begin the season and has looked completely overmatched at times.
So, given all that information, I can completely understand why some fans would question whether or not the team should stay the course with David Bell at the helm. But there are several factors that need to be examined before Bell is given the Bryan Price treatment and given the ole heave-ho.
Let's give Reds manager David Bell some slack, shall we?
Before everyone goes nuts and starts calling for David Bell's termination, can we all agree that he's been handed a losing roster? While some may bemoan the team's collapse down the stretch last season, Bell had his team in the thick of the National League Wild Card hunt.
Were it not for Jesse Winker's intercostal injury and the St. Louis Cardinals 17-game winning streak, we might be asking whether or not the Reds will make a return to the postseason in 2022 and it's questionable as to whether or not the front office would have made so many radical alterations to the roster this offseason.
The aforementioned Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suárez are now in Seattle. Amir Garrett was traded to the Kansas City Royals and Sonny Gray was dealt to the Minnesota Twins. Tucker Barnhart was shipped to the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati's front office decided to waive Wade Miley.
The Reds are also without, arguably, their best player from the 2021 season in Nick Castellanos. The All-Star and Silver Slugger Award-winner signed a five-year/$100M contract with the Philadelphia Phillies this spring.
Where last season Bell would turn to Winker, Suárez, Castellanos, Barnhart, Gray, Miley, and Garrett, the Reds skipper now has Aristides Aquino, Jake Fraley, Brandon Drury, Aramís García, Reiver Sanmartin, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Ryan Hendrix.
The Reds roster has been decimated by injuries.
Furthermore, the Cincinnati Reds have been decimated by injuries to key players. Luis Castillo, Mike Minor, Donovan Solano, Jose Barrero, Lucas Sims, and others began the season on the Injured List. Most recently, Jonathan India has missed several games in a row as has Nick Senzel.
And let's not lose sight of the fact that the Cincinnati Reds have opened the season against the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves, Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Guardians (who are actually second in the AL in runs scored), and the 2022 World Series favorites, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I know it's easy to cite David Bell as the reason for the Reds lack of success, but I think that's a terribly lazy argument. Could he have made some better decisions throughout his first three years in Cincinnati? Absolutely. But let's stop pretending like any manager in today's game is vital to the team's on-field success.
With analytics and computer-generated models leading the charge, the manager's feel for the game has never been less important. I'm a fan of the old school approach myself, but in 2022, managers are going to play the percentages and not their gut. in essence, a team's record is predicated more on player performance and scouting rather than a manager's instinct.
Before everyone in Reds Country takes to Twitter with the new hashtag of #FireDavidBell, ask yourself this question; had David Bell known that this would be the direction of the Cincinnati Reds franchise in 2022, would he have even considered signing that contract extension last fall?