The Cincinnati Reds have endured six straight losing seasons but this year David Bell said the team is focused on winning a world championship and anything less would be a disappointment.
The second-year skipper made this pronouncement Friday at the Reds’ annual caravan stop at the Apollo Career Center that drew a big crowd and that confidence and optimism stems from the off-season acquisitions the team made this year.
Led by free agent signing of Matt Moustakas who was also in attendance, the team also bolstered its outfield by signing Japanese star Shogo Akiyama to a three-year deal and added to an already solid pitching staff by getting Wade Miley.
“We wanted to get on base more offensively, Bell said. “We wanted t0 increase our outfield defense. I think we added a lot of character guys. There is going to be guys that step in and add to this team.”
Akiyama, the first Japanese player signed in Reds history bats lefthanded and had a .301 batting average and .392 on-base percentage in Japan last season with 20 homers and 31 doubles.
Miley pitched for the Astros last year and posted a 14-6 mark with an ERA of 3.98.
With these signings, Bell knows he will have a number of questions going into spring training such as who is going to be in the outfield, what will be the starting lineup as well as the pitching staff and who is going to fit where.
“There is always question marks because you have to go out and perform,” Bell said. “You look at our team and we believe we have a realistic chance to win but when you are in it you have a job to do and that is our focus right now is preparing for spring training and then having a great spring training so we can get off to a good start will be our next focus.”
Bell admits he has not come up with a starting lineup yet and added that the team has plenty of great options.
In addition to bolstering the offense, Bell is optimistic due to the team’s starting pitching. The Reds rotation features Luis Castillo (15-8 3.40 ERA), Trevor Bauer (11-13, 4.48 ERA), Sonny Gray (11-8, 2,78 ERA) Miley and either Tyler Mahle (3-12, 5.14 ERA or Anthony DeSclafani (9-9, 3.98).
“There is nothing in this area (starting pitching) that I would say we have a hole,” Bell said. “That is what we addressed in the off season. Not that we had any holes but we had areas where there was room for improvement. We wanted to add depth in the already strong starting rotation and I think we have done that and more.”
Bell added that not only is the team and the organization excited about these signings but said since he has been on the caravan he has also seen the fans are as well.
“Now I’ve experienced a little larger group of Reds’ country and the excitement I have seen the last couple of days is incredible and we appreciate that. It means a big part to our organization and it is a bug part of our success,” Bell said. “It’s something you think about when you are competing and the amount of backing that we have. It means a lot and it gives us energy.”
Bell went 75-87 in 2019 as the Reds’ manager and said he learned a lot not only about the team but about the organization and added that he thinks this will be beneficial this season.,
“I learned a lot about our team and the people in the organization,” Bell said. “That was the big thing. Getting to know the people and building relationships and it takes time. I think we made a lot of progress. We came up short for sure with where we wanted to be with the results last year but with the progress we made and the solid foundation we established for ourselves I feel that we are right on the brink of a championship.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.