From David Bell’s introductory press conference [video link] and a few one-on-one interviews afterward shown on FSO:

The local media (FSO) and ownership have their narrative about a local boy coming home. Bell’s introduction included describing Bell a “real Reds hire,” a “Cincinnati native,” a “Cincinnati guy,” his “family ties” to father and front office consultant Buddy Bell, and from owner Bob Castellini: “from the Cincinnati family.” Bell himself talked about “coming home.”

The two words most used by others to describe Bell were “smart” and “tough.” 

Dick Williams said they had a list of 20 criteria for the new manager, but the “single most important trait” was whether the manager “could use all available tools at our collective disposal to maximize the performance and value of each player as an individual, while also maximizing the performance of the team as a unit.”

Williams said they started with 90 names on a candidates list, and have been vetting since April. Said they interviewed “more than a dozen.” 

Williams said that hiring a manager was “one of many steps” the organization needs to take. He pointed to “significant investments” in scouting, player development, farm system, success in trades, waiver claims, free agent signings, team-friendly extensions. But “we recognize all of that is not enough” must “translate all this to success on major league field.” Said Reds fans “have been patient” but front office does not “take that for granted.”

Bell said he thought he was ready ten years ago to manage a big league team when he was managing in the minor leagues, but didn’t realize then how much he didn’t know. Has “learned so much” in the past 10 years.

Bell stressed the importance of bringing the entire organization “in alignment,” which he learned this year working as VP of Player Development for the Giants, managing 300 players and 80 staff. 

The word David Bell used the most was “preparation” in the sense that he expects players to be prepared and the central focus of the organization and coaching staff working together was to get “information” to the players so they could be prepared. 

When Jim Day asked Bell about analytics: Bell said he’s open minded, says you have to use all information and resources out there to make the best decision

Bell seemed to gently push back against characterizations that he will be tough on players. He talked about dealing with players “as people” and that he cares about the players. Says players have to be encouraged to do everything they can to be prepared and that they need “individualized” plans. 

Dick Williams, asked about hiring a first-time manager: Managers used be out there “on an island,” so having experience was important. Now managers have huge support from the front office so first-time managers can do it. Williams pointed to how many teams in postseason have first-time managers. 

Bell said several times that he was excited to get started, “I wish we were playing tonight.” 

Bell said they would start working on the coaching staff today and that it would be a collaborative effort, like he expected all their decisions to be.

Overall, a classy press conference. One bit of unsolicited advice: Ditch the tradition of having the new manager put on the team’s uniform and hat. People shouldn’t speak at formal occasions, where others are dressed in suits and ties, with a baseball hat on. Basic communication theory in Western societies: don’t block eye contact, something that often happens when hat bills get in the way. 

Much more on the Bell hire to follow. 

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.

Join the conversation! 31 Comments

  1. Yeah, the jersey-and-hat deal was awkward, at best…although I was glad to see him wearing #25. When he retires, hopefully after a string of awesome seasons, it’d be great to see the number retired in the name of the entire Bell family.

    That said, this looks like a guy that the Reds would have considered, “local kid” or not.

    And now…we wait. For pitchers. And the coaching staff. And pitchers. And the rising draft picks.

    And pitchers.

    Reply
  2. Substitute the word “tough” for the word “grit”. And we shall see Skip Schumaker manning the 3rd base coaches box in 2019.

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    • Yeah, I can just hear George Grande going on about knowing how to play the game….the right way.

      Skip Schumaker. Well, whatever.

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    • Not only Skip at 3rd. base but perhaps Mike Matheny as the bench coach. Keeping the ‘Cardinal Way’ out of Cincinnati is never easy.

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      • If the Reds could actually learn how to implement the Cardinal Way it might be a good thing since St. Louis is consistently in contention and the Reds are consistently losing 90 games a season.

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  3. I want to be excited, but I was measurably optimistic with Price as well thinking he would be able to help develop our young pitching prospects. I’m less optimistic now, it mostly depends on the players that the front office gives him to compete with. He does have a better chance, since we are (please??!?) further along in the rebuild.

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  4. I’m not trying to be a killjoy, but Price also said a lot of good things when he was first hired. Many around these parts were hopeful that Price represented the Reds finally moving on from the “old school” mentality of guys like Dusty Baker.

    Well… We saw how that turned out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cautiously optimistic about Bell. The Reds, from what we know at this time, certainly could have done worse. But forgive me if I’m a little cynical until we see what kind of manager Bell actually is.

    I’m done with believing in the words of anyone connected to the Reds. Only actions mean anything now.

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    • That’s as it should be. I’m optimistic about Bell’s comment about bringing the organization into alignment, but that’s not on him. It’s on people above him, so they will have to make it so. To date, they have not.

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    • Price never really recovered from the ‘F’ bomb outburst, not to mention the start of the 2018 season.

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      • All I can say about F bombs is that, if they were really so damaging, I would have been turning into compost years ago. Price took over when the Reds were in transition from being a good team to being a team that was snakebit by injuries, bad luck and bad decisions. He didn’t seem prepared to deal with what confronted him. Bell might be better prepared, but it won’t matter very much until (unless) they get a strong roster.

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        • The question remains can the Reds get that strong roster in 2019 and overtake the Cubs/ Brewers / and Cards . The Cards are getting old and have lots of contracts expiring after 2019/20, they will be active this off-season. I can’t see a scenario where a 25 man roster is in place that wins 93 games.

          The expiration of the Bailey contract after 2019 provides a potential great reset to be aggressive in 2020. Instead, it appears BC is ready to trade prospects for pitching in 2019 to win 83 games.

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    • I think a lot of us are of the same thinking. Cautiously optimistic is what I’d describe myself as. I think Bell is going to struggle not to go “by the (old) book” on a lot of stuff once he’s in the dugout and the games start meaning something and he’s under the microscope. If you do things “by the (old) book” and they don’t work out, the mainstream press (and fans) can justify it as the right call just not working out. Often if you do stuff per what the data says you should do and it doesn’t work out, the mainstream press and Joe fan will clobber you; as they don’t know what the data says. They either don’t have access to it (proprietary) or don’t know where to find it.

      Reply
  5. “David Bell will manage the Reds and the Giants will become more analytics-driven”

    “The Giants’ direction [“a young, sabermetric-minded GM and executive.”] is evident from the potential candidates who have been or will be interviewed, according to other media outlets and industry sources who have spoken with The Chronicle.”

    https://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2018/10/21/18006504/david-bell-will-manage-the-reds-and-the-sf-giants-will-become-more-analytics-driven

    Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Bell’s hire is being praised for his “family ties” and the saying (which I had never heard before today) … “You never go wrong with a Bell.”

    “…a collaborative effort, like he expected all their decisions to be.” Big Bob uses that “c” word when discussing his input into things.

    Wish Bell well, the Reds need a lot of improvement…but this feels more like a family-business hire than any revolutionary MLB hire.

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    • A compromise hire between the factions of the Reds. Something to satisfy everybody, just a little. They should not be this divided in their ideas and goals, which also does not augur well for the future.
      But maybe the horse will learn to sing.

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  6. I think the one thing that is praiseworthy is getting the on field management and the Front Office on the same page as to how the team progresses, and the players are utilized. I don’t want any more gritty veteran signings. That’s wrong.

    Play the kids, now. Prepare for the future by playing the young talent in the farm system.
    I am not excited, but hopeful that the Reds FO and Field manager will work together.
    Dusty never really worked with Walt (Aroldis used as a closer), and Price certainly did not work with either Walt or Williams very closely.
    Castellini can talk as much as he wants in public, but let the team be run by the professionals.

    If you look up Walt Jocketty on Wikipedia, he had a great run as a GM from 2000 – 2013, with the Cardinals and Reds. Of course, Castellini knows this. But personnel management has turned a page, and what Jocketty did in that era, that was just a few years ago, just doesn’t quite work anymore.
    He did trade away a lot of good Cardinal farmhands to get talent to stay competitive, and always had Pujols in the middle of the lineup for most of those Cardinal years. He did the same, to a degree, with the Reds, and look at the desert we are in now.

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  7. Three questions re: press conference: (1) Do you think it does a disservice to David Bell to keep mentioning his father and grandfather? (2) Do you think there is anything to Castellini’s response to someone when he or she said, “You can do anything you want”? Castellini responded, “I don’t think so.” (3) Castellini’s statements seem to offer a brief glimpse into the kind of thinking which has stalled the rebuild. Thoughts?

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    • (1) Yes
      (2) Yes (shudder)
      (3) Yes, of course.

      The Reds are where they are because of Bob Castellini. He is the owner and ultimately responsible. He wants to be involved, and so he should shoulder what has happened.

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  8. It’s done … now we wait to see what the future brings. The best any of us can do is speculate, but that and $8 will buy a beer at GABP.

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  9. Crosspost:

    With the caveat that we’ll have to take a wait and see attitude, my concerns aren’t centered around how much Bell embraces analytics or if he is on the same page as the front office, but rather how well he’ll do with interpersonal relationships with the players.

    Being Mike Matheny’s bench coach for 3 years tells you the odds are quite good they have similar inclinations as to how to handle people. We know Matheny was rigid and rather inflexible in his views on how players should prepare and do their jobs. Not coincidentally there was a lot of drama in the clubhouse. I’ve read not so favorable things about Bell’s people skills as a minor league manager.

    Of course you might view these traits as a positive or a negative. There has been little to no clubhouse drama with the last 3 managers. The commonality is that they all deferred to veteran privilege and there was an established pecking order. Where did that get us? With the impact of young players being felt more strongly than ever, you could argue that a more organic clubhouse culture would inject some much needed life into the team and possibly instill more confidence in a handful of key youngsters who will make or break the rebuild.

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    • Boy, after watching the presser, this guy has the charisma of a fire hydrant. that said, neither does Counsell or Hinch, so who knows.

      My general impression is that just like DW there was always some plan for him to join the organization. Certainly smacks of a nepotism hire more than a ‘best man for the job’ hire.

      This organization exhausts me.

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  10. “Dude, you’re getting a Bell.”

    The new ticket marketing campaign has started.

    Reply
  11. Somebody talk me away from the edge of the cliff, please.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that fourth paragraph sounds like the Reds will for the most part stay pat and play with who they got?

    Did Price and Riggleman fail on maximizing each player’s and the team’s performance?
    A free agent here, a trade there, bringing up a youngster from the minors: these things will not bring success to the Reds.
    Bell might do better than Price and Riggleman but I don’t see more than a few wins possible.

    The Reds must improve starting pitching a lot, power bats some and defense some.

    The Reds can’t outspend other clubs so they must be super smart, efficient and INNOVATIVE. This applies to owners, the front office, manager, coaches and players.

    Reply
    • They have to be more systemic and logical (and accurate) in the evaluation of the talent they have, and what the ceiling of their young players actually is. Other teams seem to be able to do this, why can’t Cincinnati?
      People have eschewed “The Cardinal Way”, but would the present Cardinal management tolerate a CF that hits 0.230 with no power and a < 0.300 OBP?

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    • That wasn’t my interpretation. The main point he was trying to make was that they know they have to do a lot more than just hire a new manager. But he didn’t want to make it seem, on the other hand, like they haven’t done anything smart yet. So he referred to a few things that have gone well.

      I do find it curious whenever they brag about having highly rated draft classes the past three years, as if that isn’t directly a product of their high draft choices due to lousy records. It would be a failure if the Reds didn’t have high-rated drafts, given their position.

      Reply
      • Okay, thanks. I will step away from the edge and look forward to other moves to make the Reds competitive again.

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  12. I wish he would just talk off the cuff. He was uptight. Too nice. Intimidated by the people on his left and right? Tells me that there has been no shift in power, just faces. The people who are presiding over the decline of this franchise are still in charge.

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    • Lots of people are uncomfortable with public speaking. That Bell may be doesn’t worry me. Plenty of stuff about the Reds worries me, but not that.

      Reply

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About Steve Mancuso

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.

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