The 66-year-old Bell had been less visible in 2017 than he had in the past, while Chris Getz became fairly prominent in his first year as the farm director, a position Bell previously held. The MLB.com stories connected those developments. From the Reds’ side:
Bell expressed mixed emotions about leaving the White Sox, but that organization is also going through the start of a rebuild and has a farm director in Chris Getz who Bell helped hire last year. About 10 days ago, he asked owner Jerry Reinsdorf for permission to speak to other clubs.
"Secretly, I was hoping the Reds had some interest," Bell said. "I got a hold of Dick and asked him if the Reds had any interest. This happened pretty quickly."
Once the Reds expressed interest and the graduate of Moeller High School in Cincinnati had a chance to go home, he didn't need to talk to anybody else. That desire to talk to other teams came in part from Getz's excellence in his role.
"This guy is phenomenal," said Bell of Getz. "He's very smart, he's got a great feel for players and staff, and I just felt like this is a good time for me to kind of maybe possibly go someplace else.”
Bell’s tenure as the head of minor league development represented an improvement over the previous regime, which was shaken to its core by the Dave Wilder fiasco. There were high-profile missteps early, particularly the too-aggressive promotions of first-round picks Jared Mitchell and Courtney Hawkins that put them in a position to fail earlier than necessary. Eventually the farm system settled into a mode where it could produce MLB talent, particularly from second-day college guys (the CBA implementing draft pools helped, as it brought the rest of the league down to the White Sox’ level of investment).
There’s room to improve, particularly with developing international prospects. No traditional signings have been able to get to Double-A (staying healthy is a big problem), which makes the lack of killer drafts more glaring. The Sox have expressed tons of confidence that Getz is the guy to make that next step, although there’s no question that he has more talent to work with than Bell ever had.
Overall, it’s fair to say that Bell left that facet of the front office in a much better position than he found it. Maybe that’s a low bar to clear given what he inherited, but it doesn’t make it less true. As we’ve seen in other areas of White Sox business, professionalism isn’t guaranteed.
Kevan Smith surprised everybody by being an eminently playable option for the White Sox in 2017. Baseball Prospectus said he was replacement level — OK framing, but other defensive skills lagged and the .283 average was empty — but he did come from off the 40-man roster to take Geovany Soto’s place, so that makes sense.
Smith says he’s capable of producing more power if nothing else, and he’ll probably get another year to show it, because both catchers finished the year offering something. Over the last two months, Smith (.310/.341/.466) and Omar Narvaez (.293/.398/.391) combined to produce an .800 OPS from the position.
This is Charlie Tilson’s Arizona Fall League page. Note that he’s played in three games in four days. He hasn’t yet recorded a hit in 10 at-bats, but that’s besides the point.
Justin Morneau hasn’t officially retired, but it’s hard out there for a 36-year-old first baseman/DH, even one who’s left-handed.
When Yuli Gurriel wasn’t suspended in the World Series for his racist gesture toward Yu Darvish, the hero-overcomes-adversity reception he got in his first subsequent plate appearance at Minute Maid Park made me want the series to get to Dodger Stadium so he could hear the opposite. Sure enough, Gurriel had to face the music in Los Angeles, and Rich Hill maximized the opportunity.
With his every at-bat on Tuesday, and with every pitch of every at-bat, the crowd unleashed a fury of boos upon Gurriel. This was a level of sustained vocal disdain that Dodger Stadium never had mustered for Barry Bonds.
And Hill was Gustavo Dudamel, with a ball rather than a baton, silently conducting the crowd, pausing time and again to let a cascade of boos rain down upon Gurriel.
Hill stepped off the mound so the crowd could jeer, made a pitch, stepped off the mound for another round of jeers, made another pitch. He turned into a veritable Pedro Baez, lingering between pitches so the crowd could rev up its vocal cords once again.
“I think the one thing was just to let the crowd speak their mind,” Hill said. “I didn’t think anything else would be as loud as that. The people spoke. I left it to that, and that was it.
“That was the best way to go about it, not hitting him or doing anything like that, but making sure that things like this shouldn’t happen.”
I predicted the Dodgers in 6, but I really wanted the series to be stretched to its breaking point. I got my wish, so I’m rooting for either a crisp, taut game or complete chaos, because both produce the tension I seek.