Each Monday morning, we’ll ask a few of our authors and friends of the site to answer an important question concerning the Reds. Do you agree with any of our writers? Give us your opinion in the comments section.

Question: What grade would you give manager David Bell after one month and why?

Jeff Gangloff: So far this season, I would give David Bell a grade of a B. Some may think the performance grade of a manager should be based purely on win-loss record, but I don’t believe that. There are times when a team goes through things or where there is a talent disparity that’s completely out of a manager’s control. You’ve seen a little bit of that this year with this Reds team.

That being said – I think one of the biggest hurdles Bell has overcome is the Reds slow start. He’s kept things together relatively well. He’s also shown a willingness to try just about anything to help the team win. From batting Votto leadoff to using Lorenzen in center – his approach and openness to trying different things during the game is refreshing.

Matt Habel: I would give David Bell a B. Batting Votto leadoff earns big time brownie points, even if the batting order doesn’t make that much of a difference. My biggest issue so far is how often he has used Zach Duke in important situations when Duke is clearly not performing well. Overall, Bell seems willing to embrace new and different ideas which is always a good thing. Impossible to say how much of a difference he has made compared to Price or Riggleman, but I certainly feel better about this coaching staff than the ones in years prior.

Bill Lack: Between a B and a B+. I really like that he’s willing to think outside the box (Votto leadoff, Igelsias in non-save situations, no set roles in the BP, lots of defensive shifts that seem to work a lot more often than not) and the team seems to play hard every day. I do wish he had more faith in Winker (who I believe is going to get better and better, given the chance) and wish he had less faith in Duke. I like that he’s quickly developed faith in Stephenson, pitching him in higher leverage situations.

But I do think he is, at times, over-managing…over using the bullpen (which may be a problem as the season lengthens) and the bench. I’m curious to see how much he changes over the course of the season, whether he is learning on the job. Overall though, I’m really happy with what I’ve seen and believe that this team is going to get better and better as the season moves along.

Tom Mitsoff: I give David Bell an A so far, despite the disappointing start. He has done a good job of keeping the team’s collective attitude positive despite a couple of disappointing early losing streaks. He seems to act decisively when it comes time to make a pitching change, which to me means he has already thought through all of the possibilities and knows what options and match-ups are possible. He also takes charge of strategic decisions. An example was when he pinch-hit Phillip Ervin for Jesse Winker. In the past, that would not have been a consideration because Winker is a starting player. Bell has set an atmosphere in which all ideas are possible. Michael Lorenzen has expressed his appreciation that the management finally has been willing to consider his full skill set.

John Ring: I would give David Bell a “B” for right now. My two biggest issues with him are his stubbornness in sticking with Kemp and Schebler and his overall lack of fire and intensity as the Cincinnati Reds manager. Give me more Lou Piniella or Dave Bristol. On the positive side, I like his creativity with the lineup, management of the bullpen and he didn’t panic after those eight straight losses early in the season. If the Reds split those games, they’re in the mix right now.

44 Responses

  1. doofus

    Incomplete. Given that it seems that all the front office did this offseason was to change the shade of lipstick it put on the pig. The ability to earn a true grade for me would come when the front office actually stocks the shelves with talent. Until then it will still be the same old 60-some odd win team. These type of teams do not need a manager.

    • Armo 21

      Really? The starting pitching has been a huge improvement over last season. Statistics bear this point. Jose Iglesias, Dietrich, Puig are very good MLB players to go with last year’s position core. Winker and Schebler missed a lot of the season last year and are finding their way. Peraza, Votto and Suarez are showing to be slow starters to the season. Unless you are just trolling, the authors above give a fair and IMHO accurate assessment to David Bell’s start as Manager. Taking issue with the team/ownership is just a cheap shot in this comment section. Bell has remade the coaching staff and gotten commitment from ownership, he is finding his way as Manager and really building a foundation for the analytics era in Cincinnati. I grade him B+ for the first month. All due respect John Ring, I loved Lou Piniella but that style of manager is long gone in today’s game.

      • doofus

        Son, I’ve been a Reds fan since 1963. Why not take a breath and realize that not everyone will agree with you.

        I do not believe that it is fair to grade David Bell on what is just 28 games at the helm; and, with a roster that, I believe, has many holes in it.

        If you have not noticed it has been the reticence of ownership and the front office to build a quality roster that has led to the dismal record of this team.

      • James Vincent

        lol what? The offenses is getting its butt kicked every night and you guys think this guy’s a decent manager. riggleman had no problem scoring runs because he actually put up a lineup that made sense. this shows you how blind Sabre people can truly be. Billy Hamilton has scored more runs than anybody on our team. put some speed at the top of the lineup so guys can actually get in scoring position. all the on base in the world doesn’t help you if you can get them in

    • Adrian

      Eh. Outside of the improbable 1-8 start, the Reds have been playing .555 baseball. 10-8 doesn’t sound too sexy, but over the course of an entire season it’s 90-72; the Reds obviously can’t do that just by keeping pace w/their last 18 games, since they had that losing streak to start the year. But if they were to go .555 the rest of the way (the equivalent of going 10-8 in every 18-game chunk) they would finish 86-76. I think the team is significantly better than the 60-some-odd win teams of the past few years. They aren’t world-beaters yet, but they are better.

      • Eric Wormus

        The problem I have with the “they aren’t great yet but maybe better than last year” line of thinking is…so what? So this team wins 75 games instead of losing 90+ again. The 2020 roster is going to look so vastly different from this one that it’s going to require another entire overhaul this winter. 68 wins, 75 wins, 80 wins. Whatever. It’s a bad team that has been run incompetently for the better part of 15 years. The faces and names change but the results stay the same.

      • Scott

        I don’t get this line of thinking. How many wins the REDS get matters to me. I dont buy into the thinking that if you aren’t going to win the WS or get in the playoffs it doesn’t matter how many wins you get. May as well lose all 162. I’m tired of watching this team lose 95 games. If they win 81 and don’t make the playoffs, that is better than 95+ losses in my book. Who wants to play for a 95+ loser? Who wants to come to a 95+ loser?
        Guess I am old school.

      • doofus

        The Reds have beat up the Marlins and Padres. When they start winning series against the “Big-Boys,” I’ll take notice. That will not come until there is an infusion of hitting, pitching and fielding talent into this team.

  2. Steven Ross

    At best C. A creative lineup is one thing but one which doesn’t make sense is rolled out way too often. I guess we have no other options in CF except Schebler. Giving Ervin more of an opportunity is overdue.

  3. indydoug

    John Ring–he has been ejected twice

  4. TomN

    I give him an A. He’s had to deal with the players he has. He’s giving them a chance to show they still have skills (i.e., Kemp, Duke) or not. Changes will be made if they fail. As far as his reliance on Schebler goes, despite his struggles this season, he’s still probably the best CF (not including Ervin who has been down in AAA until the last week or so). Schebler has had slumps before though this seems like the longest lasting slump he’s ever had. We all know how he can rake when he gets going and Bell knows that too. Still, I can’t believe he’ll continue to use him as a starter much longer if he doesn’t come out of it.

    But I agree with the writers. His ability to be flexible with his BP, putting Lorenzen in CF at the end of games, installing Iglesias at SS and keeping him there, his strategic use of Dietrich and how he’s quickly gone to SteveRob once he proved that he is pitching so well. It’s refreshing.

    Now if the hitters can just perform!

    • James Vincent

      Maybe if you wouldn’t have power guys at the top of the line up speed guys at the bottom they would score. Jose Peraza spend his entire life learning to hit at the top of the line up Just Like Jesse Winker spent his entire life learning to drive in runs.

  5. Scott C

    Personally I would give him an A- to a B+. I do think he over uses the bullpen but on the other hand you have to try to win today because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Trying to “save” the bullpen is to some degree a false assumption.
    I also agree that he used Duke too often in critical situations and overplayed Kemp. Both players have seen their better days and really have no place on a rebuilding team.

    • JayTheRed

      I am with everyone else Duke should not be used during important innings. I don’t mind if they want him to be a reliever that mops up at the end. Maybe it would give him a message hey look you do good at this and we won’t cut you off the team.

      I am not against using Kemp for say 2 or 3 starts a week. Though if Scheb doesn’t start hitting soon I think he may have to get demoted. He doesn’t look comfortable at the plate at all. Can’t wait for Senzel to be given a chance.

  6. David

    There are a lot of things you could criticize and praise David Bell for. But the slow start may have a link to the team being prepared coming out of Spring Training.

    Of course, Spring Training Means Nothing, according to many. But I did not think he played the regulars enough towards the end of Spring Training, and the team did not look sharp (and still does not look sharp) in terms of executing fundamentals.

    Zack Duke, Matt Kemp…..blah, blah, blah. He has played guys and changed the line up. They still are not scoring or hitting with any consistency, and frankly may not be a good offensive team this year. The pitching has overall been better than expected. Bob Stephenson has probably been the biggest surprise.

    At what point in time do you ask the hitting coach what he is doing? Labor Day?

  7. SultanofSwaff

    A-.

    The dugout is finally in lockstep with the front office on lineups, positioning, and matchups. That’s HUGE. More to the point, I can’t think of any instances of Bell bowing to veteran privilege in his managing—that was a huge problem for this organization under Price.

    • David

      I think that is a very good point. I don’t know about “lockstep”, but I think there is better co-ordination between the Front Office strategy in terms of personnel and the way David Bell runs the club day to day. This has actually been absent since the days of Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty.

    • RojoBenjy

      I worry that his insistence on using Schebler over Ervin, and continuing to use Duke after he started channeling Kevin Gregg, is veteran privilege.

      Aside from those two I can’t see any other instances though.

      • David

        Zach Duke is on the roster. I don’t think Bell is a foolish or dumb. He will continue to give Zach Duke opportunities to get his game together, and maybe he will.
        At some point in time, the Front Office will make a roster change and get rid of Duke if they feel he is just wasting their time.
        I personally think he is ineffective because he just isn’t that good anymore. Which is a reason to let him go.

    • James Vincent

      seriously anybody that runs out of players in the 8th inning should lose their job. Derrick Johnson has been nothing short of remarkable. is mix of Common Sense and Analytics is refreshing where is David Bell is just completely dependent on his numbers and shows zero confidence

  8. Adrian

    I would give him a B. So much of what’s important in a manager’s job lies with preparing the team, managing egos, keeping people motivated; i.e. stuff that is difficult to measure (the only guy I’ve seen manage it is Russell Carleton, formerly of BPro).

    The batting order, pitching changes, arguing calls, challenging calls…these things can add up to a few wins over the course of a season, which can be critical if you’re in a dogfight for the division crown, but maybe not so much otherwise.

    And then you have the fact that a manager is usually judged not so much on any of the things in the first two groups, as on straight-up wins and losses. And while in some ways that isn’t fair, ultimately that is the goal and if the results aren’t there…

    However, with David Bell it is still early, and there are signs the Reds season will continue to get more positive as the season goes on (though it’s unlikely to get so positive as to send them to the playoffs). I think he has a tough act to juggle on the intangibles front, balancing Kemp (who has been awful) and his big salary and veteran status, Schebler (who is younger but who has been just as awful), Puig (better than the first two, but a big salary and big personality) and Winker (not as good as we’d like from a BA perspective or OBP, but the power has been crazy on point and his defense has been an improvement, to my eyes anyway) in the outfield.

    I think for the most part his in-game decisions and lineup choices have been, at worst, a wash, and at best he’s done a bit better than average (the lineup construction has been pretty creative and mostly quite good).

    The wins aren’t there yet, though, and while it looks like the Reds should be able to climb out of the hole at some point this year, I can’t give him an A without the results, even if that isn’t entirely fair.

    • Doc

      Isn’t Winker hitting something like .320 over his last 10+ games? Offensively he seems back on track. Defensively maybe he is on his personal track, but I can’t fault him for not getting to a ball down the LF line when he was positioned in an extreme shift. However, that, too, is part of the Bell learning curve; how much capability does each player have.

      Duke, Kemp and Schebler are my biggest gripes, which also means Ervin getting essentially no chances since being called up as a secondary consequence gripe. Bell found starts for all four OF when Kemp was one of the four, but somehow hasn’t found Ervin a start as one of the four despite Schebler’s persistent struggles.

  9. Klugo

    B. I Iike his defensive adjustments to scouting reports. I think he’s tinkered too much with the lineups; although he’s been a little more consistent lately. I’d like to see him just go with what he believes in.

  10. WVRedlegs

    C minus. The Reds still find themselves in the NLC basement. There gave been glimpses of better, but also glimpses of the past. We haven’t really reached the end of the first quarter yet so graded are a little premature.
    It is still early but loads of work still to complete.

    • Bill J

      Agree with WVredlegs. Some over use of the BP.

    • Colorado Red

      I agree, but I would make it a C.
      The BP use, has been poor, kept on playing Kemp is questionable.

    • warren

      finally a grade I agree with when I buy a ticket to the game its to see them win not to make it close

  11. Nate

    I’d like to give him an A because of the starting pitching improvement and getting tossed for standing up for his players. But how he uses Duke takes it down to a B and the offensive struggles take it down to a B-. I’m encouraged but want to see some more runs cross the plate because of solid hitting not just home runs.

  12. Optimist

    Incomplete, but trending to an A.

    Seems the FO and field staff are finally coordinated, but let’s see that continue for 1/2 a season before grading.

    Same for in-game moves, but I’m all for letting the short-term/old guys/trade candidates (Kemp/Duke/Hughes/etc) show if there’s anything there. Make the FO do it’s job about the failures.

    He didn’t lose focus or panic after the 7 game skid, and he still needs to manage to next year – we’ll see how that works with the coming changes – Scooter/Senzel/the Sept. call ups.

    It’s an A if he can avoid a tailspin after the mid-season trades – otherwise a B so long as he keeps setting up for next year (i.e. Winker plays in all the September games).

  13. Big Ed

    I think it’s too early in the semester to be handing out grades. Bell over-manages a bit, but he’s done some good things since the 1-8 start. Let’s wait until he can play a couple dozen games with a full crew (i.e., Senzel in center), before we start grading him. It isn’t his fault that Williams handed him a useless Matt Kemp or that Scott Schebler fizzled out.

    Meanwhile, today is the 36th anniversary of the Epic Rant of Lee Elia. “I’ll tell you one [expletive deleted] thing, I hope we get [expletive deleted] hotter than [expletive deleted], just to stuff it up them 3,000 [expletive deleted] people that show up every [expletive deleted] day, because if they’re the real Chicago [expletive deleted] fans, they can kiss my [double expletive deleted] right downtown and PRINT IT. ” And so on, for several minutes. I never did understand exactly how and who downtown was going to “print” his being kissed, but then the Germans didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor, either.

    Bell is not anywhere close to being that frustrated.

  14. Chris Holbert

    He has tinkered way too much with the lineup. I’m not sure Votto should be hitting lead-off, although you are only a true lead-off hitter once in the game. Peraza has proven he can hit, and should probably be given the opportunity to hit out of his start. Dietrich was available late in spring training for a reason. I remember in the past years surprising veterans, Gosselin, Pennington, starting the season well, then flaming out. Schebler is not an everyday player, and never really has proven to be since they got him. It is time to start the Senzel era. He cannot do worse, both in the field and at the plate. The outfield defense is already average and he will not make it worse. Duke needs to go and give a AAA lefty a chance, again, how can they be worse. Gio Gonzalez was available, if the front office was serious, I think he could have probably helped and have been gotten relatively inexpensively. Ervin deserves to be on the team. It is time to cut bait with Kemp and move on with Winler, Senzel, and Puig, with Schebler and Ervin as 4th and 5th. Then the bench becomes Ervin, Schebler, Dietrich and Casali/Barnhart. The offense from the catchers is another topic. Casali seems to always be on-base.

  15. Pete

    Given Bell is a rookie manager, I’m going to say a B. Looking at the statistics of the Reds lineup versus the likes of the Dodgers & Cardinals, the Reds are clearly over matched. This is not his fault; however, as others have indicated Bell’s reliance on Duke and Schebler is troubling – learn from your errors and move on.

    The defensive positioning (shifts) is as aggressive as any team I have ever seen and this trend will probably will continue in the sport unless it is outlawed or hitters adjust. The Reds are ahead of the curve, never thought I’d say this. The pitching and Bell’s handling of it reminds me of Sparky (Captain Hook) Anderson and has been A+ with the exception of Duke.

    Bench Schebler for Ervin and release Duke, and I will give David Bell an “A”, although I know the latter may not be his decision to make.

    • cartel

      I think the key here is rookie manager. For just starting, I think he has been exceptional. If he continues to improve, this maybe the best hire in a long time…

    • James Vincent

      given he’s a rookie manager I would give him a D instead of an F I guess. I really don’t give a crap how long he’s managed I want to see wins and that’s all I care about. Between the portable pain management and the atrocious lineups I don’t see how anybody can grade him better. They did the same stupid crap last year. They tried to manage a four-man Outfield and it did not work. as soon as someone got hurt everybody started hitting. Last year the offense was good and I understand maybe some amount of tinkering to try to make that better. However when you’re completely failing you may want to look at what was successful to people before you. if they simply just copied riggleman’s lineups they would have more success

  16. Matt WI

    Extra credit points- He hasn’t had a media meltdown dropping F bombs like it was going out of style yet!

  17. bred

    I want to give him an F to pay for my misplaced optimism in the Reds playing at least 500 ball this year. However, he should not pay for my mistake, but a manager has to find solutions. I know he does not hit, but what is going on except belief they will hit?
    I think Winker will hit around .300 and Suarez will hit his dingers, and the pitching is improved because of the rentals we acquired, but the optimism has been 0ferd out of me.
    His Grade: C

    • Pete

      Marathon not a sprint – just saying.

    • Matt WI

      I’m sure all kind of things are being tried… but sometimes patience really is the only option. If hitting came down to a specific thing that could always be fixed, nobody would struggle with it. It’s just that hard. Same way a Tour pro can finish top 10 one week and not make the cut the next.

  18. jreis

    i give him a good grade so far but I think next year will be the true test when he has to manage the young players that hopefully will be ready by then like Senzel and Trammel. Its like this year he is teaching calculus class with all the line up changes, defensive shifts etc. And he has a veteran laden team that is responding to some extent. next year we may have 4-5 rookies in the starting line up so he is going to have to teach basic 8th grade algebra. I think it will be an entirely different approach.

  19. Jeff

    You guys are pretty generous graders. Somehow I can see you guys giving Bell an A- if we lose a Hundo. Is being on Castellini’s payroll a conflict-of-interest? ????????

  20. Pete

    Bell shakes up the lineup and I like it:
    Peraza-2b
    Votto-1b
    Suarez-3b
    Winker-lf
    Puig-rf
    Schebler-cf
    Iglesias-ss
    Barnhart-c
    Roark-p

    Thinks I like: Trying Peraza at lead-off. If it works it lengthens the lineup. Barnhart should never bat 5th for a MLB team. Pitcher batting 9th, with BHam it made sense without him, it doesn’t.

    Things I don’t like: Where is Ervin? Mark Shelden mentioned to Marty yesterday that the Reds think Erwin can’t handle centerfield. And Winker can? Taking out DD- yes his numbers don’t knock you over but the guy has legit power. I don’t believe the Reds can’t string together rallies at this point so go with power when given a choice.

  21. Old-school

    He’s doing ok. Let’s see how May goes.

    The Angels beat the Royals. WP- M Harvey (1-2 ERA 6.54 ) LP Homer Bailey (2-3 ERA 5.70) .
    Billy Hamilton .216/.298/.324/.622 DNP – day to day with hamstring issue.

    I’ll take 2019. Just need some offense .

  22. TR

    A ‘B’. I like the way he interacts with his coaches during the game and, like a lot of managers, doesn’t stay alone in the dugout. When Senzel is here, I hope Bell uses a more regular lineup with others is defined utility roles. I think a bit more letting starting pitchers work out of situations before the 7th. inning, at least, without calling on the bullpen would be a positive.

  23. matthew hendley

    A high end C+. He had the 1-8 start. But he did recover and make up ground. Like the flexibliltiy with lineups. DO NOT like the ‘making the lineups days in advance’ as it limits the ability to react to players who are doing better then their norms. Needs to demonstrate some players are on a short leash (Duke, Peraza). Good work overall with the bullpen, despite the Duke saga. Needs to learn exactly when to pull a SP when they hit the wall. And while I understand the purpose of the shifts, his versions are way too extreme. Ask again in a week and it will be a different answer