CINCINNATI -- Some might assume the Cincinnati Reds went with familiarity and family over experience and accolades in this managerial decision, but David Bell brings more to the job than just a well-known last name.
The Bells' baseball lineage runs deep, particularly in Cincinnati, but the 63rd manager in Reds franchise history also offers a unique blend of major-league coaching and minor-league managerial experience, along with a stint as vice president of player development for the San Francisco Giants.
Bell, who grew up in Cincinnati and played baseball at Moeller High School, has been described as loyal, smart, tough and dedicated. He reportedly was a candidate for several managerial openings and was rumored to be the Giants' pick to head their baseball operations.
Although Bell might have had his pick of jobs, he wanted this one. After vetting 90 candidates and interviewing more than a dozen, the Reds chose him.
"This time we're moving home," Bell said about Cincinnati.
It was not a difficult decision to make, he added.
"It was an amazing phone call to get," he said. "This city means so much to me and my family. I can't wait to get started and start reaching out to the players and begin working with everyone in the organization. It's going to be a huge team effort."
Bell, 46, agreed to a three-year contract through the 2021 season with a club option for 2022. Is that enough time for him to turn things around after five straight losing seasons for the Reds, including four straight ending with 90-plus losses and last-place finishes?
Last season, the Reds finished 67-95 after starting 3-15 and firing manager Bryan Price in April. Jim Riggleman led them to a 64-80 mark as interim skipper and was considered for the full-time job.
When asked why he would agree to take on such a daunting task, Bell said: "I prefer that. It's a great challenge. I couldn't be more confident in the people that are in place here."
Bell doesn't back down from a challenge, and by most accounts, he's also not afraid to offer his opinion. During Monday's introductory press conference, Bell spoke about the Reds organization needing to share the same vision, from the top down.
With the Reds' front office not always appearing to be in lockstep with ownership on roster decisions, Bell preached unity.
"We're going to be aligned and work together and make each other better," he said. "When we succeed and win, it's going to be done in a way that everybody in this city can be proud of the way we go about it."
Bell's time in player development should be considered a plus. He has an eye for talent and also has expressed an openness to using analytics and any other available tools to help make the best possible baseball decisions to drive success on the field.
"We're gonna use all information and resources to do everything we can to be excellent in the way we prepare and the way we compete every single day in every inning of every game," Bell said. "We need to bridge that gap so everything that is worked on in the front office is part of what we do on the field."
Despite being a known commodity for the Reds, Bell hardly is an in-house candidate. His baseball resume spans nearly three decades, including coaching stops in St. Louis, Chicago and the front office in San Francisco. He managed for four years in the Reds' organization, including 2012 at Triple-A Louisville. The Moeller graduate played parts of 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers.
Former Moeller coach Mike Cameron, who along with Bell helped lead the Crusaders to the 1989 state title, said he has never coached a player with a higher baseball IQ, aside from Bell's father, Buddy, a former major-league player and manager who currently serves as a Reds senior adviser. While Buddy Bell was gone playing and managing, David Bell learned baseball from his grandfather, Reds Hall of Famer Gus Bell.
David Bell will wear No. 25, the same as his father and grandfather.
"The first thing I said to David was … I wish my dad was here," said Buddy Bell, who recused himself from the interview process when it involved his son. "He and David were so close. He would be really proud, but he would be nervous at the same time."
Nervous is right. Much work remains to give Bell the resources necessary to win.
"Hiring a manager is a critical step, but it's one of many," said Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams. "We have to continue to improve every aspect of our baseball operations. We recognize that as an ongoing challenge."
Reds CEO Bob Castellini said Bell brings a Cincinnati tradition back to the Queen City.
"You can never go wrong with a Bell," Castellini said.