Tag Archives: Mike Matheny

David Bell, former Phillies third baseman, named as new Cincinnati Reds skipper

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Bell started at third base for the Phillies from 2002 through July 2006

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman David Bell has been named as their new manager. Bell will be introduced to the Cincinnati fans and media at a Monday press conference.

The 46-year-old Bell signed a three-year contract with a club option fourth season in 2022. He and his father, former big-leaguer Buddy Bell, become the fourth father-son combination to manage in Major League Baseball.
Bell was already an eight-year big-leaguer when he signed with the Phillies as a free agent for the 2003 season. He, first baseman Jim Thome, and closer Billy Wagner were brought in specifically to help the Phillies try to contend as they transitioned from Veteran’s Stadium to Citizens Bank Park.
Over parts of four seasons with the Phillies, Bell slashed .258/.331/.385 with 38 home runs, 209 RBI, and 191 runs scored. On June 28, 2004 at Citizens Bank Park, Bell became the 264th player in MLB history and the eighth and most recent player in Phillies history (Chuck Klein did it twice) to hit for ‘The Cycle’ (a single, double, triple, homer in same game.)

Bell was dealt away by the Phillies to the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2006 trade deadline. He would then play the final 53 games of that, his final season, with the Brewers.
Overall, he played in a dozen MLB seasons with a .257/.320/.396 slash line. Bell produced 123 home runs and 589 RBI over 5,380 plate appearances with six organizations. In 2002, Bell received the Willie McCovey Award as the San Francisco Giants most inspirational player for a team that reached the World Series.
A Cincinnati native, Bell helped Moeller High School win the 1989 Ohio state championship. He also managed for four seasons from 2009-11 in the Reds minor league system, compiling a 227-332 record.
Bell became the Chicago Cubs third base coach during the 2013 campaign. He also obtained managerial experience in 2009 in the Arizona Fall League.
In 2014, Bell became the assistant hitting coach with the Saint Louis Cardinals. For the last three years he served as Mike Matheny‘s bench coach with the Cardinals.

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David Bell has been named the new manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He will be introduced at a press conference on Monday at 11:00 a.m.
Bell comes from a baseball family. In addition to his father, his grandfather, Gus Bell, is a Reds Hall of Famer. His brother, Mike Bell, was also a third baseman. He appeared in 19 games with the Reds during the 2000 season.
With his grandfather and father having played Major League Baseball, the Bell’s are one of five families to send three generations to the majors.
One of the others is the family of former Phillies catcher Bob Boone. Boone’s father, Ray Boone, played in MLB, as did sons Brett Boone and Aaron Boone. Both Brett and Aaron had multi-year stints with the Reds.
Bell spent last season with the Giants as their Vice-President of Player Development. That type of role may become a trend in the grooming of managers. Gabe Kapler served as the Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development prior to landing his current job as the Phillies manager.
The Reds finished the 2018 season in fifth (last) place in the National League Central Division with a 67-95 record. It was the team’s fourth straight last place finish. Cincinnati last reached the postseason as an NL Wildcard team in 2013. They last won an NL Central crown in 2012.

The Reds have not been to the World Series since sweeping the Oakland A’s 4-0 in 1990. That was the fifth victory in the Fall Classic in the history of the franchise, which began play in the old American Association as the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1882. They joined the National League as the Reds for the 1890 season.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Former Phillies third baseman David Bell named new Cincinnati Reds manager

Cardinals sweep their way back into the NL Wildcard race

Molina (R) settles pitcher Martinez (L) in Cards key win

What a difference four days have made for the Saint Louis Cardinals. After being swept this past weekend by the arch-rival and NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, it seemed their season was over.

National League standings following games of Sunday, September 17, showed the Cardinals with a 77-72 record. That left the team 4.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the final NL Wildcard berth with just 13 left to play.

Flash-forward five days. Following an off-day on Monday, the Cards proceeded to sweep the host Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series.

Meanwhile, the Rockies were collapsing on a four-game losing streak. The Milwaukee Brewers, also residing in the NL Central and also chasing Colorado, have dropped their last two games.

Suddenly, the Cardinals are right back in that NL Wildcard race. Thursday night’s 8-5 win at Great American Ball Park raised their record to 80-72. That leaves Saint Louis tied in the loss column with Milwaukee, just a game behind Colorado.

These guys were coming off a tough weekend, and they did a nice job of clearing their minds of that,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.


 

With the Cards clinging to a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th inning, veteran catcher and leader Yadier Molina came through for his team once again. His double to center field scored Jose Martinez to make it 5-3.

Molina hustled to third base when the throw came to the plate. He would then score himself on a ground out by Kolten Wong to make it 6-3.

In the top of the 9th inning, it was a pair of lesser-known Cardinals hitters who came through. Greg Garcia, pinch-hitting for reliever Tyler Lyons, clutched a two-out RBI double to make it a 7-4 game. Alex Mejia followed with an RBI single to bring home Garcia.

Scott Schebler led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer off Cards’ reliever Zach Duke. But the veteran lefty then worked his way safely through the rest of the frame, and the Cardinals had their key victory.

“When you’re coming off a sweep, the best way to solve that is with a sweep in your favor,” Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said per Sheldon.

Sweep they did, and now the Cardinals are right back in a race that they seemed out of just days ago. The challenge now with just ten games to go will be to keep on winning. 

Carpenter had a pair of his and a walk out of the leadoff spot, scoring one of the Saint Louis runs. Dexter Fowler had three hits, including a pair of doubles, driving in two runs and scoring two more.

Carlos Martinez was credited with the win, raising his record to 12-11 on the season. He yielded nine hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings, striking out six and walking just one Cincy batter.

Saint Louis continues on the road for three this weekend at PNC Park against the host Pittsburgh Pirates. The team then returns home to finish up the regular season with a four-gamer against the Cubs, followed by three final potential showdown games next weekend with the Brewers.

Prior to that series, Milwaukee hosts the Cubs for three this weekend at Miller Park. The Reds will then follow Chicago in next week for three games.

Colorado will try to snap out of their recent untimely funk this weekend at Petco Park, where they take on the host San Diego Padres for three games. That will be followed by visits from the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers to Coors Field for three each to wrap the regular season.

Starting Pitching Has Cardinals Flying High Again

Lance Lynn and his rotation mates leading Cardinals comeback
The Saint Louis Cardinals are the most historically successful franchise in the history of the National League. 
That success is not just ancient history. The Cards have dominated the NL Central Division for more than a decade.
The Cardinals have won more World Series titles (11), and more National League pennants (19) than any other NL team.
In this century alone, the Cards have tacked on nine division crowns, four pennants, and a pair of World Series titles to those totals.
But the 2017 season did not begin in typical fashion for Saint Louis. The team struggled out to a 3-9 start over the season’s first two weeks.
However, if opponents were hoping to take advantage of some down period for the Cardinals, that was the time to catch them. It has all turned around, and the Cardinals are now winning with consistency once again.
Saint Louis has now won 10 of their last 14 games. Following their most recent win on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cards are back to the .500 mark at 13-13. They sit just 1.5 games behind the division-leading and arch-rival Chicago Cubs.
Four of the victories during this stretch have come by that same 2-1 score, highlighting the segment of the team that has led the way forward: the starting pitching rotation.
During a season in which starting pitchers have been dropping like flies, heading to the Disabled List on a regular basis all across Major League Baseball, the Cardinals staff has proven resilient.
Saint Louis skipper Mike Matheny has been able to call on the same five starting pitchers for each of their turns thus far after one full month of the 2017 season.

CARDINALS ROTATION FLYING HIGH

Paving the way has been the youngest of those starters, 25-year old Carlos Martinez. In his third full season as a member of the rotation, the Dominican native has just a 1-3 record. But Martinez has allowed just 32 hits over 38 innings with a 43/15 K:BB ratio, best on the staff.
Fellow 25-year old Michael Wacha (a couple of months older) is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.141 WHIP mark. Wacha has allowed 28 hits over 30.2 innings with a 28/7 K:BB ratio.
After starting his career with parts of six seasons in Cincinnati and a partial season in San Francisco, 29-year old Mike Leake is now in his second year with the Cardinals. Leake is 3-1 with an outstanding 1.35 ERA and 0.990 WHIP. He has allowed just 28 hits over 33.1 innings with a 25/5 K:BB mark.
Lance Lynn is a 30-year old who has spent his entire six-year big league career with the Saint Louis organization. Lynn was a 2012 NL All-Star, and is producing at that level once again this year. He has a 3-1 record with a 2.45 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, and a 25/10 K:BB ratio while allowing just 22 hits across 29.1 innings.
The senior member of the staff is also its most historically successful, but thus far is also struggling the most. Now 35-years old, Adam Wainwright is no longer counted on to be the ace of the staff, but is simply asked to contribute.
Wainwright is a three-time NL All-Star who finished either second or third in the National League Cy Young Award voting four times between the 2009-2014 seasons.
This year, Wainwright is 2-3 with a 6.12 ERA, allowing 39 hits over 25 innings. However, even he may be getting it together. Wainwright has won his last two starts, and has a solid 26/7 K:BB ratio.

ROTATION CARRYING A STRUGGLING OFFENSE

It was Martinez who dominated the Brewers in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory. As reported by Nate Latsch with the New Jersey Herald, Matheny was quick to praise his starter.
“Carlos was as good as we’ve seen him. That was complete-game-shutout stuff…Just a big day…Carlos was everything we needed.”
Matheny and the Cardinals have been getting everything they’ve needed for much of the early season thus far where the starting pitching is concerned.
If an injury should eventually pop up, the Cardinals may be able to cover it from within. Despite losing top prospect Alex Reyes for the year to Tommy John surgery, there is another waiting in the wings.
Luke Weaver is the Cardinals #2 prospect. Now back from his own early-season injury issues, Weaver allowed just three hits over six shutout innings on May 2nd for the AAA Memphis Redbirds.
The 23-year old struck out five and walked no one, and should be ready for a promotion if needed after a few more weeks of minor league action.
The offense has struggled to score, still just 26th in baseball with 106 runs. Their 28 home runs ranks just 22nd in the game. With 13 stolen bases, the Cardinals are 16th in MLB.
Unless there is a major turnaround from that offensive attack, Saint Louis will need to continue getting that healthy production from their starting pitching to be a postseason contender once again.

Too Soon to Count Out Slow-Starting Cardinals

The Saint Louis Cardinals, perennial National League contenders, are off to an uncharacteristically slow start this season. 
The team is currently sitting at the bottom of the overall National League standings with a 4-9 record.
Saint Louis has won an NL-record 11 World Series championships. In addition, the franchise has won 19 National League pennants. 
The club has captured 13 division crowns, including 10 in the NL Central, and has been an NL Wildcard playoff team on three occasions.
In recent years, Saint Louis has finished in either first or second place in the NL Central for eight straight seasons. They won the division four times in that span, reached the Fall Classic twice, and won the 2011 World Series.
While the longtime arch-rival Chicago Cubs ran away with the division a year ago, finishing 17.5 games in front of the Cards, that was more a reflection on the Cubbies dominant year.
The Cardinals went a solid 86-76 in the 2016 season, and fell just one game shy of both the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants in the race for another postseason berth.

SLOW START TO THE 2017 SEASON

Before last night’s victory over the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium, the team’s 3-9 record represented the worst start to a season by a Cardinals team since 1988.
Cardinals
Manager Mike Matheny was quoted by Derrick Goold for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the slow start as compared to what his club is used to:
“When you have a good start, it’s something you go back to — ‘Hey this is what we do,’” Matheny said. “We haven’t seen it yet. That’s concerning. We will see it, and I think we will see it for long periods of time. They need to sense that winning expectation every time we go out there. It’s amazing how powerful that is. The opposite can happen, too. What we’re fighting is to make sure that doesn’t creep in.”
This team has not suddenly fallen apart. I firmly believe that the Cardinals are simply off to a slow start, and will bounce back to once again make a playoff push.
The Cubs, overwhelming divisional faves once again, are just 6-7 at this point, just two games in front of the Cards. In fact, just three National League teams are more than two games above the .500 mark. None is a traditional contender, or a clear favorite to maintain their current pace.

CARDS OFFENSE STRUGGLING THUS FAR

The biggest culprit has been the offensive attack, such as it is right now. Saint Louis is just 28th in baseball in runs scored, 29th in OPS, and 17th in stolen bases. The statistics don’t lie: they’re not hitting the ball particularly hard, running very well, or scoring many runs.
This is not likely to continue, given health. Yadier Molina is hitting for just a .229/.310/.343 slash line. The 34-year old team leader was signed this off-season to a contract extension that will pay him $20 million per year over each of the three seasons after this one.
Jhonny Peralta is at just a .120/.185/.120 slash. Matt Carpenter has a .222/.362/.306 mark. Big free agent signee Dexter Fowler has a .132/.207/.151 slash line.
These are just the biggest violators in a lineup full of unproductive bats. None of the Cardinals primary starting or bench players is younger than 25 years old. This is not a bunch of bats with no track record. These numbers are not likely to continue so low for much longer.
On the mound, the biggest problem is the bullpen. Closer Seung-hwan Oh, so effective after arriving from Korea a year ago, has a 9.53 ERA after five games. He has allowed two homers among the nine hits that he has surrendered over his first 5.2 innings.

BULLPEN AND WAINWRIGHT STRUGGLING

Jonathan BroxtonKevin SiegristBrett Cecil, and Miguel Socolovich all have ERA’s at least at the 9.00 mark. As a group, the Cardinals bullpen has allowed 30 earned runs on 43 hits over 36.1 innings with a 29/20 K:BB ratio.
Again, these are not a group of arms without a track record. This bullpen is more than likely to begin achieving success as well.
The rotation has been the one solid force thus far in Saint Louis. Now at age 35, Adam Wainwright is no longer the leader, but instead is simply an innings contributor. He has been the least effective of the group by far, allowing 24 hits in 13.2 innings over his first three starts.
Cardinals
Wainwright was quoted as blaming himself for much of the slow start in Goold’s piece:
“I know that Cardinal Nation is ready for me to get my act together. I am, too,” Wainwright said. “Don’t know what to tell you. I wish I had a lot of excuses. … It all starts with the starting pitching. I’ve got three of our losses. You can put three of them on me. I’ll take the blame as much as I can.”

REST OF ROTATION HAS BEEN SOLID

Mike Leake (29) and Lance Lynn (30) have each started off solidly, and can be counted on for consistent outings on most nights. They have combined to allow just 23 hits over 32.1 innings, with a combined 26/7 K:BB over their six combined starts thus far.
A pair of 25-year olds may now be the most talented in the rotation. Michael Wacha has looked good thus far, with a 14/3 K:BB ratio over his first dozen innings.
The biggest talent may be the other 25-year old, righty Carlos Martinez. The Dominican hurler has allowed 16 hits in 17.2 innings with a 24/9 K:BB over his first three starts.

CARDS MAY BE ABOUT TO TURN IT AROUND

The early schedule hasn’t been a friend to the Cardinals. They have thus far faced the Cubs, Nationals, and Yankees in nine of the first 13 games. Those are two of the top NL teams, and the Yanks are one of the hottest starting teams in baseball this year.
Last night’s win began a stretch in which the Cardinals will play 13 of 17 and 21 of their next 29 games in front of some of the best fans in baseball at home in Saint Louis.
It would not surprise me at all if the Cardinals win last night was the beginning of a turnaround. I am looking for Saint Louis to be closer to the top of the division than the bottom by the time those 29 games are over a month from now. There is simply too much talent for the struggles to continue.

RIP Oscar Taveras

Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras, 22, killed in auto accident

Francisco Taveras must have known from early on that his son Oscar, 2nd of his 8 children with wife Marisela, was going to be something special on a baseball diamond.

After all, Francisco had first-hand knowledge of what it took to make it in the game. He himself had been a prospect once, reaching the AAA level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization back in the 1980’s.

Francisco, who taught Oscar the game that he himself loved, and Marisela surely watched with pride as Oscar not only competed in baseball, but as he excelled at it. Over the last few years it became apparent to everyone that Oscar was not only likely to match, but would most certainly exceed his father’s accomplishments in the game.

That’s what every parent hopes for, of course. That our children will grow to make more of themselves than we have, to succeed and make their mark on the world. To enjoy success and happiness and achievement. At the age of 22, Oscar Taveras could say that he had all of those things. His parents had to be very proud indeed.

Oscar would indeed surpass his father’s achievements in the game. Signing for $145,000 with the Saint Louis Cardinals organization as a 16-year old in November of 2008, he quickly rose to become one of the top prospects in the game. Entering the 2014 season, Taveras was considered one of the consensus top 3 prospects in all of baseball.

Taveras finally got his call up to the big leagues this past May 30th at just age 21. The following day, in just his 2nd at-bat with the Cardinals, Taveras launched a homerun, announcing his presence with authority.

Still, as many youngsters, Taveras struggled in his first exposure to major league pitching. He was sent back down to the minors in the middle of the month, but was then recalled once again on June 30th, this time to stay. He played part-time for the rest of the season as the Cards won the N.L. Central Division crown, and was named to their postseason roster.

In Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants, Taveras was called on by manager Mike Matheny to pinch-hit. It was an important situation, as the Cards trailed the Giants 1-0 in the series, and were down 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th here.

Taveras and the Cardinals celebrate his game-tying NLCS homerun

Oscar Taveras stepped to the plate in the rain against veteran pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, and delivered like a veteran. He crushed a game-tying homerun just inside the rightfield foul pole. The blast inspired the Cardinals to victory, tying the NLCS at a game apiece.

It would end up being the only game that Saint Louis would win, as the Giants took the NLCS 4-1. In total, Oscar received 7 at-bats in the postseason, all as a pinch-hitter, and went 3-7 with a pair of runs scored. He got to play right field briefly in the Game 5 finale of that NLCS. It was a disappointing end for the team, but appeared to be just the beginning of a promising career that would yield many more opportunities for playoff heroics from the now 22-year old.

And then, this weekend, unspeakable tragedy struck. Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend, 18-year old Edilia Jamali Arvelo, were killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. His Cardinals-red Chevy Camaro somehow veered off wet roads as they were driving to his hometown of Puerto Plata. Those at the scene reported that the front end was heavily damaged.

It’s too soon to know exactly what caused the accident. Any speculation about their ages and the sports car vehicle would be irresponsible. What is definitely not speculative is the nature of the roads in the D.R., which are notoriously deficient. Another Dominican native, future Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, stated this morning in response to the accident: “To all the authorities in my country: please, please do something about the highways.

Outgoing Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig spoke for everyone involved in the game in part of his statement following the announcement of the news: “Oscar, a young member of the baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying homerun against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.

Oscar Taveras and Edilia Arvelo

Now, all we have left is the memory of another brief, bright shining star taken far too soon. Baseball is game. Those of us who love it understand that, but we sometimes take it too seriously. Every once in awhile, real life steps in like this and reminds of that fact.

Oscar Taveras got to enjoy life in Major League Baseball, which will, in the end, be only a dream never realized for many millions around the world who play and share that dream. The record books will show that he appeared in exactly 80 games with the Cardinals, hitting .239 with 3 homers, 22 rbi, and 18 runs scored. He played 62 games in right field, 3 in center field, and made the rest of his appearances as a pinch-hitter.

But those are only his major league numbers. In the minor leagues, where he was almost always at least a couple of years younger than the league average age for his level, Taveras excelled. He batted .320 and drove in 324 runs across parts of his age 17-22 seasons, and consistently showed that he was going to be one of the game’s best hitters in the years to come. Now that is all we have left, his dream, ended just as it was beginning.

Now families will grieve. Most importantly, the families of these young people taken far too soon. But also the larger family of baseball, of which we who love it are all a part. We grieve the loss of one of our own in Oscar Taveras. May God bless his family, friends, and teammates during this difficult team. And may God rest the souls of these youngsters in His loving embrace.