As a Cincinnati Reds and Bengals columnist and a Cincinnati sports fan my whole life, there truly isn’t anything that compares to RedsFest.
The Reds organization does a fantastic job with fan interaction and I can’t think of another professional team that does a better job in allowing contact with the athletes and past members of the organization. Year after year, this event continues to be a success and it was just that once again over the weekend.
For me, it was very odd not having Joey Votto in attendance, but seeing all the young talent embrace the city was definitely a sight to see. This 2024 Cincinnati Reds team is going to be special and the organization is continuing to head in the right direction.
It’s Time to get Excited About the Reds
I can’t remember the last time I really thought going into a season that the Cincinnati Reds had the ability to contend for a World Series. With some recent updates to their pitching staff, Cincinnati is showing that it is willing to spend to get this young team over the hump and ready to contend for a ring. Let’s take a look at the newest additions to the roster:
Emilio Pagan – At 32 years old, Pagan officially joined Cincinnati on a 2-year, $16 million contract. Pagan is a right handed relief pitcher who most recently played for the Minnesota Twins. In his 7 year career, Pagan holds a career 3.71 ERA, uses 4 different pitches (fastball, cutter, changeup, curve) and ranks in the 94th percentile with his fastball run value. This addition adds some much-needed depth to the bullpen.
Nick Martinez – The former Padre signed with Cincinnati recently for a 2-year, $26 million deal. While he is more known for his time in the bullpen, Cincinnati has signed him with the intent of adding him to the rotation. Over the past 2 seasons, Martinez holds a 3.45 ERA, had an amazing ground ball rate, and ranks in the top 5% of the league in hard hit percentage. His style of pitching should transfer over quite well to Great American Ball Park and is another addition that should help this team get over the hump.
These two additions clearly show that Cincinnati is wanting to make some moves this offseason and that it is willing to enhance the abilities of its weaknesses on the mound. I believe they still should pursue additional bullpen help, along with one more piece for the rotation to really feel comfortable with the staff for 2024. The young guys in the lineup hope to continue their success and I believe a power-bat, right-handed outfielder would go a long way as well. With looming trade rumors regarding Jonathan India continuing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is headed somewhere else in the next couple of weeks for a big return. GM Nick Krall understands the type of player that India is, though, and if the right deal doesn’t come through, I think India will again be a part of this team for another year in the Queen City.
Bengals’ Fans are Losing Interest
I’d be lying if I said that I still have as much interest in the Bengals as I did before Joe Burrow got hurt. They have a game tonight (Monday Night Football) and I think I might be more excited knowing that we will probably order pizza tonight. It’s a shame to see a year wasted in a window year during the prime years of Burrow, Higgins and Chase. While this roster is more than capable of continuing to win games, it just feels like the momentum is completely gone. The entire attitude seems to be “wait until next year” and it’s a shame to see a wasted year after 2 amazing seasons.
As crazy as it sounds, Cincinnati could get right back into the playoff race if it would shock the Jaguars tonight, but I just can’t see Jake Browning leading this team to victory over a very good Jacksonville roster. I hate to be the guy to jump to new quarterbacks, but I think it might be time to give A.J. McCarron a chance to show his skills as a backup for the Bengals again.
Even if Browning performs well tonight, the defense will have to be a lot better than it has shown over the last few weeks. Losing Bates and Bell hurt this roster far more than I imagined it would and the lack of pressure outside of Trey Hendrickson is continuing to present issues each week. I am a Bengals’ fan through all of the chaos and I think the rest of the season relies on how the team performs tonight. Prove me wrong Jake Browning and bring home a much-needed victory!
betJACK Pick of the Week
The Jaguars are currently sitting at -10 against Cincinnati and I hate to say it, but taking the Jaguars here is probably the easiest money you will make all year. I refuse to bet against the Bengals though, but it just feels like this season is over. Prove me wrong Cincinnati!
This column appears in several newspapers in southwest Ohio