After spending nearly a decade with the St. Louis Cardinals as a player and coach, the decision for David Bell to leave the organization was not an easy one.
“I was not looking for other opportunities,” said Bell, who is joining the San Francisco Giants as their new Vice President of Player Development.
“They called and got permission to speak with me. I knew that I’d at least be interested in speaking with them, but no I was not–I didn’t have any intentions of ever leaving. So it was a bit of a surprise as I went through the process, I started considering it more and more and by the end, it became clear that it was the right thing to do. But it doesn’t make it any easier leaving a great situation like St. Louis. Great job, so many great people that have become great friends. That part I’ll miss.”
Ironically, it was the same kind of connection that Bell had for St. Louis that drew him back to San Francisco.
“I’m leaving an organization that I had a strong connection to, but I’m also going to an organization that I feel strongly about,” he said. “I only played here one year, but it’s one of those places that for whatever reason–mostly because of the people, I did feel a strong connection. So that helped, I probably wouldn’t have considered this too many other places, if any.”
Also playing into the decision, Bell and his family also live a little less than two hours to the north in Santa Rosa, California.
“It’s been a tough decision to leave there,” he reiterated. “Mike and Mo, they’re really good people and they want what’s best for people and they couldn’t have been more supportive and understanding. That helped me make the right decision.”
As the Vice President of Player Development, Bell will be overseeing the Giants farm system and will report to Bobby Evans. While there will still be occasion to teach, this is a different path than that of realizing his goal of being a Major League manager one day.
“I loved my time as a minor league manager and being a bench coach is as close to managing as you can get,” said Bell. “It’s something that won’t leave me, it’s something that I would love to have the opportunity to do at some point. I also think, who knows how these paths to manage are happening these days? But I think it’s been a great experience being on the field and in the dugout. Being that close to the players is something I really enjoy.
“Having said that, this job–I’m going into this fully committed to doing the best possible job I can do here. It’s a big commitment, it’s a lot of responsibility, it’s an amazing opportunity to really make a difference with an entire department of player development with staff and players. As I went through this process, I realized it was an opportunity to contribute. Everything I’ve learned, all the experiences I’ve been through, all the great people I’ve been around and learned from. The decision came down to this was a new challenge. A big one. But with an opportunity to just make a big impact.”
Being a third-generation big leaguer, it’s already been said that David Bell is in the family business. But besides following in the footsteps of grandfather Gus and father Buddy to play the game, his brother Mike is the Vice President of Player Development with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“Understanding the demands and responsibilities and some of the nuances and challenges that come up,” said Bell of the benefit of having his brother’s counsel. “Also, my dad has served in this role and so many others. The two things that I feel are a best fit for me are managing and player development. I really think player development is in our blood and it’s something that I feel like because of all the great influences that I’ve had, I see it as something I’m able to give in a lot of ways and contribute a lot that has been given to me. I’m just able to do it on a little bigger scale here. No more important or better than what I was doing, just different.”
The St. Louis Cardinals will now look to fill Bell’s spot on their bench and besides the on-field experience he brought, David shares that his analytics became more prominent during his tenure here.
“A lot,” he stated. “And from a personal standpoint, my years in St. Louis were years of some really great development in many ways. One of those ways was my understanding, my knowledge, my interest in analytics and all the information that’s out there and trying to figure out how to utilize that and use it as a tool. It became a real interest. Before I went to St. Louis, I didn’t know how to use a lot of that…it was a big part of what I did, definitely.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports; Brian Stull-STLBaseballWeekly.com; Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports