By Matthew McAdow
As we all know, the Bengals season sadly ended last week, and like many of you, I still haven’t gotten over this one either. While the Super Bowl is on this weekend, this is probably the first time in my life that I truly don’t feel like even watching. I know that I will tune in come Sunday night, but I am definitely still bitter from a poor Bengals performance last week, as Cincinnati in my eyes, was truly the best team in football this year. With the Bengals season coming to a close, we are going into the “slow period” before baseball. Yes, I know college basketball is in session and I certainly enjoy college basketball, but during this time between Bengals football and Reds baseball, I feel lost as I recline in my living room chair. Luckily, this dead period will not last long, as Spring Training is right around the corner, when the Reds will take on the Guardians in Goodyear, Arizona on February 25th.
With Spring Training in arms reach, this roster still has many “question marks” and the Opening Day roster is still up for grabs. India, Stephenson, Myers, Fraley, Votto, and our 1-3 starters have a set spot in the lineup, but the rest of the positions are truly “up for grabs.” Keeping an eye on the outfield battle between Senzel, Fairchild, Lopez, and Siani, along with some late roster additions, will be fun throughout Spring Training. The shortstop position will be a competition as well, as Barrero and established veteran, Kevin Newman will certainly battle it out. With many shortstops in the minors who are eager to reach the big leagues, Barrero has a very short string as a major leaguer with this organization, and he must turn it around fast, as last season was a true off-year for Jose.
I am unsure how I have made it a page and a half without mentioning Elly De la Cruz, but Elly is going to be the most intriguing person to watch during Spring Training. De La Cruz is 21 years old and is the number one prospect in the Reds organization. In High-A and Double-A, Elly slashed a .304/.359/.586 line, along with 28 homeruns and 47 stolen bases last year. He has an infield arm, but also has the speed to play outfield. While I expect Elly to start out in Triple-A as the season starts this year, we might just get to watch De La Cruz make his debut this season if his bat is hot again to begin the year. He has the potential to hold a name like “Fernando Tatis Jr.” and I am more than excited to watch him during Spring Training.
While we all know the name De La Cruz, there are many other prospects to keep an eye on during the Spring and throughout the season. The Reds front office has loaded up on young guys in the organization and I am eager to watch them progress throughout the season. Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Cam Collier, Matt McLain, Brandon Williamson, Sal Stewart, and Andrew Abbott all hope to make a splash this year with hopes of making it up to the next level. While last season was hard to endure and this season may replicate that, I can without a doubt say that our future looks much brighter than it did two seasons ago. Take a deep breath Reds fans, as the bigger picture is soon to come.
During the terrific Bengals season, you may have missed the signing of Wil Myers to the Reds. Myers is 32 years old and is a former All-Star and former Rookie of the Year. While his power has dropped off the table as of recent, Great American Ball Park should play into Wil’s favor. Wil is mostly known for his outfield play, but he may have to fill in some at first base should Votto not be ready to begin the 2023 campaign. Wil signed a 1-year contract this off-season and during a rebuilding season, 1 year contracts are a win-win for both parties, as Great American typically provides a stat friendly initiative for someone to get a big deal the following off-season (look at Brandon Drury).
Votto’s Last Ride?
While Joey hasn’t officially stated this is his final season, it certainly could be our last season of watching number 19 take the field. A piece of my childhood will be missing when he goes into retirement, so I plan to enjoy every at-bat and every moment we have with one of the greatest Reds to ever touch a baseball. The 39 year old still believes he has enough gas in the tank to compete and I am more than excited to watch him play against a defense that isn’t allowed to shift. Every season, I remind those to cherish the time we have left with number 19, as Joey has stuck through many good and bad times over the years. I hope to hear Votto go back to his old “Rolling Stones” plate introduction and be vintage Joey with a healthy season. The 6 time All-Star, former MVP, former league leader in doubles, 5 time league leader in base on balls, 7 time league leader in On-Base Percentage, former lead leader in SLG percentage, 300+ career homer, and 16 year veteran looks to be nostalgic in the Reds uniform this season.
Writing Matt’s Take over the past year has been a joy and I truly have enjoyed sitting down to write my article covering the Reds and Bengals each week. Matt’s Take is now featured in over 25 newspapers across the state and I truly appreciate everyone who reads my column. Within the Reds organization, I have been lucky enough to share my interviews with Jake Fraley, Bronson Arroyo, Sam Lecure, Tejay Antone, Buck Farmer, Graham Ashcraft, John Sadak, and many others. I am looking forward to sharing my interviews and continuing to bring in guests for everyone to enjoy. I am more than appreciative of all who carry and read my column, and I can’t wait for another year of Reds baseball and off-season Bengals news. Grab your local paper and hold on tight, Reds fans!
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