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The Reds are dead. Long live the Reds!

Elimination Day was inevitable. It came on Saturday.

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Aaron Doster/Getty Images

This was a team that won 12 games in a row.

This was a team that reached 10 games over the .500 mark.

This was a team that was in 1st place in their division in August - after the trade deadline.

This was a team with a future Hall of Famer in his team-based swansong.

This was a team with a freshly extended Ace of the Future.

This was a team with a rookie class so talented, so deep, that they’ll all end up splitting Rookie of the Year votes.


This was a Cincinnati Reds team with promise not just for the future, but for the now. It fell apart in a way that’s somewhat hard to process quickly, their last-ditch playoff hopes ending on Saturday in St. Louis as the Cardinals destroyed them in a blink.

We lost the chance to see Joey Votto, his injuries and mysterious absences as the season waned an ending scripted worse than Game of Thrones. We lost the chance to see Matt McLain, his injured oblique muscle hopefully not the lone source of his breakout power during this rookie campaign. Elly De La Cruz’s offensive production cratered, Jonathan India was shelved for much of the stretch run with his future status on the team in question, and we never saw the return of Nick Lodolo in what was set to be his breakout sophomore season.

Graham Ashcraft was felled by a toe.

Still, this team battled, man. They battled hard, often, and late. They rolled out a mix-mashed bullpen full of ugly FIPs and DFAs on their pages, yet somehow made it work more often than not. They platooned on offense as if David Bell was employing full-scale line changes, and peripheral players who’d fallen by the wayside throughout their careers excelled within that system. Nick Senzel - Nick Senzel! - even carved out a role that maybe, just maybe, will see him back with the Reds in 2024.

The Reds never meant to need Noelvi Marte in 2023, their infield flush with an already new influx of rookie talent...but they got him, and got him good. He stormed into the team and never looked back, further muddying the projections for who plays where and when heading into 2024.

My god, did TJ Friedl ever gallop right to the top of everyone’s favorite list. The outfielder excelled offensively in an environment that seemed to be perfectly designed to suit him, with limited throw-overs and bigger bases and the reduction of shifts that so dampened production from left-handed hitters. He roamed the outfield as if it was all his own, and gave the Reds a top of the order hitter to bank on going forward.

Spencer Steer became the straw that stirred the entire drink rather than the big cube in the glass, a role that unlocked the entirety of the rest of this offense. His defense was poor, his defensive ratings even worse because of his willingness to move around the diamond, but that’s the kind of element of his game that will improve over time. He hit all year long, moved across the dirt and to the grass whenever needed, and became the team’s 1A option at six different positions. Finding that gives the front office an almost unlimited capacity to explore other combinations, and for that he’s perhaps the single most valuable piece we saw emerge in 2023.


This was a 1st place team at the deadline, and was a 1st place team after the deadline. That they didn’t manage to lay claim to even the final of three Wild Card spots nine weeks later stings now and will sting later, especially for the old Reds heads who have watched this franchise implode without a single victorious playoff series since 1995. I don’t think I need to go into specifics on how long ago 1995 was, as the youthful roster the Reds will employ once Votto’s option is declined will almost exclusively feature players born after the Reds last played in a championship series.

Squandering that opportunity on the promise of sustained future success is a tough pill to swallow for any club, let alone a club that so often has promised and promised and failed to deliver on said promises.

Is this club loaded with young talent? It is!

Is young talent cheap enough to give even the most frugal of owners the wiggle-room needed to augment with pricier, veteran players? It is!

Have the Reds been able to add pricier, veteran players with any real success over the last decade? Oh boy, they have not!

The newly promoted front office of Nick Krall and Brad Meador have shown they can identify and develop young talent lately. They nailed some trades when they dealt away seriously valuable pitchers, and while I’d like to think nailing that kind of trade is one of the most baseline things to expect from a front office, they deserve credit for at least a couple of those. They have drafted seemingly well, with McLain looking like a steal already. Can they build a winner remains the one big bugaboo question surrounding them, however, and the first chance to grade them on that - in this, the 2023 season in which they held 1st place in August - resulted in failure.

It may never get any easier for them than in 2023, either. This was a season in which neither New York club made the playoffs, nor did the Boston Red Sox or St. Louis Cardinals. That’s four perennial spenders and winners who won’t take this offseason, or next year, off to rebuild - they’ll be active and spending and getting better by the minute, with Boston having already canned their GM for their foibles. The San Francisco Giants are not sitting idle after failing this year, either, as they already fired their manager.

The big market clubs are going to be big marketing with aplomb this winter, and the Reds will be tasked with improving within them.


356 homers, 1141 RBI, a career 144 OPS+.

Of the 41 players with a higher career OBP than Joey Votto are Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Barry Bonds, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Frank Thomas, Stan Musial, Wade Boggs, and Jackie Robinson.

Of the thousands of players with a lower career OBP than Votto’s .409 mark are Jeff Bagwell, Paul Waner, Jim Thome, Rickey Henderson, Skip Schumaker, Larry Walker, Charlie Gehringer, Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner, Johnny Mize, Rod Carew, and Joe Morgan.

So, when you see this lineup today with a certain Cincinnati stalwart 1B back in the #3 spot in the order, take note:

The future around these parts is bright, even if the lights are now off on the 2023 edition. The past around here, at least in one particular part, has been as bright and promising as it ever has been, too.

Today mark’s Joey Votto’s likely final game as a Red, barring an about-face from an ownership group that has seemingly ignored him for the better part of a decade. That it comes in a game that matter’s not on the final day of the regular season is yet another frustrating reality of the Reds for whom we have rooted for so long.

I hope this is the final time I have to write about what could have been around these parts for awhile. I hope the future that was too precious to leverage in this, the 2023 season, lives up to the billing.

For now, though, the Reds season is once again dead. Long live the Reds!