Among Philadelphia Phillies fans, former third baseman David Bell isn’t especially popular. Among teams searching for a new manager, the 46-year-old appears increasingly popular.
Bell, who spent three-and-a-half of his 12 years in the majors with the Phillies, interviewed for the Cincinnati Reds managerial vacancy, per Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports. The problem for Bell, according to Heyman, is that he’s competing with three extremely qualified candidates. Jim Riggleman, who Phillies fans may remember as the former manager of the Washington Nationals, was the team’s interim manager after former manager Bryan Price was fired following a 3-15 start. Former Miami (then Florida) Marlins and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi also has interviewed for the position. So too has former MLB catcher and Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
Bell has more experience than many of the younger managers in the sport now. Beyond his playing career, he coached in the minor league systems of the Reds and Chicago Cubs from 2008-2012. He served in a variety of roles on Mike Matheny’s staff in St. Louis from 2013-2017. Since then, he’s been the vice president of player development for the San Francisco Giants. Even with a fairly extended resume, Bell is the only of the four mentioned candidates for the Reds managerial vacancy that doesn’t have extended experience as a major league manager.
With that said, Bell’s father, Buddy, is the Reds vice president and senior advisor to general manager Nick Krall. Buddy was a five-time All-Star that had three different managerial stints after his playing career. His brother, Mike, is the Arizona Diamondbacks vice president of player development. His grandfather, Gus, was a four-time All-Star that is in the Reds Hall of Fame. So Bell comes from one of baseball’s royal families, one that is very well connected to the Reds organization.
In addition to having interviewed for the Reds managerial vacancy, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that the Toronto Blue Jays, who parted ways with John Gibbons, “are likely to consider” Bell for their manager job.
Rosenthal added that Bell could eventually replace Bochy in San Francisco as well. Bochy’s deal runs through the 2019 season. Heyman noted when the Giants hired Bell that this was viewed as a possibility. It’s unclear how the Giants current general manager search could affect Bell’s future in San Francisco. Executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean remains in the picture, but a new general manager could have a different plan for how to proceed with the managerial position than perhaps former general manager Bobby Evans did.
Bell joined the Phillies on a four-year/$17 million deal prior to the 2003 season after spending the 2002 season with Barry Bonds and the Giants. At the time, that was a quite lucrative deal. Bell came to the Phillies along with Jim Thome and Kevin Millwood in an attempt to supplement young players like Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Brett Myers with established veterans. In hindsight, Bell’s tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t a complete disaster – he posted a 3.6 fWAR in 2004 and remains the last Phillie to hit for the cycle. Though between offensive inconsistencies, injuries and the fact he didn’t help the Phillies to end a fairly lengthy playoff drought, Bell’s tenure in Philadelphia was ultimately seen as unsuccessful.
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