David Bell and Dick Williams said today that assembling the club’s coaching staff would be the topic of this afternoon’s meetings.
Bell and Williams can start with current Reds employees, including the major league staff and minor league affiliates. Beyond that, Bell has worked with dozens of people in other organizations. Perhaps one or more of the candidates the Reds just vetted for the manager’s job might fit as the all-important bench coach.
Rest assured David Bell has given this a lot of thought. Every guy with his heightened ambition, who sees himself a hair’s breadth away from being a major league manager, spends plenty of time thinking these things through. In Bell’s case, for the past ten years. He has a list.
Selecting the coaching staff is also of interest because it will give us insight into the inner workings of the front office going forward.
It will help answer this question: Was the hiring of David Bell a clear-cut break from the past or a compromise between old and new?
Here’s where we get into so much Kremlinology: modern day analysis of grainy pictures of old and older guys wearing fur hats standing behind a wall in Red Square. It’s guesswork wrapped inside speculation hidden within public relations statements.
If — note the use of the word “if” — if there is a split among the front office, including ownership, between Old School and New School, the pro-modernity faction was ascendent today. The word “analytics” was never spoken, but euphemisms poured out like a mighty stream.
Examples: The Reds sought a manager who valued “all information” as a way to prepare players. David Bell said in a post-conference interview he was “excited in this job to bridge that gap, to make sure that everything that is worked on in the front office is part of what we do on the field. There’s a real edge to be had there.”
That was good to hear. Great, really.
Yet, who the Reds choose for David Bell’s coaching staff, particularly the bench coach, will reveal multitudes about whether they are 100% committed to much-needed change.
The correct answer is crystal clear. Use the same criteria the organization did when it hired Bell. If David Bell met the club’s test for manager — smart, organized, great communicator with players, enthusiastic about new information and new understanding of how to win games — then use that standard for the person who is second in command and the rest of the coaching staff.
If Bell is the right guy as manager, don’t “balance” him with an opposite voice in the dugout. Instead, the Reds should reinforce their decisive step in hiring Bell with a bench coach who pushes the team that same direction. Someone like Rocco Baldelli, for example, assuming he doesn’t get a manager gig somewhere.
Those who have written that Jim Riggleman is a “no-brainer” choice as Bell’s bench coach are as wrong now as they were when they said Riggleman was the right choice to be the 2019 manager.
The last thing the Reds need is one of the olds, with or without a fur hat, whispering outdated strategies into David Bell’s ear during games.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.