5 truths about the Cincinnati Reds that fans do not want to hear

Sometimes the truth hurts, but Reds fans don't necessarily want to hear all the facts.

Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell and infielder Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell and infielder Jonathan India / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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It's getting more and more difficult to discern truth from error nowadays. But one truth that every Reds fan can agree on is that no one, not even the most diehard follower, thought that Cincinnati would be in the playoff hunt in September.

Oftentimes, fans live on emotion. Let's face it, fan is short for fanatic, and the folks throughout Reds Country can get a bit fanatical at times. At its core, no matter how good the Bengals may be, Cincinnati is a baseball town.

With that comes certain expectations for the Cincinnati Reds. As the birthplace of professional baseball, fans in the Queen City demand the best from their team. But sometimes the truth must outweigh the passion of the moment. What are five truths about the Reds that fans do not want to hear?

1. The 2023 season is a success no matter what the Reds win-loss record is at the end.

Let's start out with a bang, shall we? Fans throughout Reds Country don't want to hear this, but it's the truth. The 2023 season, even if the Cincinnati Reds lose every game remaining on the schedule, has been a success.

If you go back to the beginning of the season and look at most prognosticator's predictions, even the most optimistic baseball analyst probably had the Reds losing at least 90 games this season. Cincinnati eliminated that possibility this past week after notching victory No. 73 in walk-off fashion against the Seattle Mariners.

The 2023 season has always been about development. Heading into the season, the Reds' brass had big plans for Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Matt McLain, and others. They've also received rather unexpected contributions from Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Andrew Abbott, and Connor Phillips.

The goal of this season was to get these young players ready to compete in 2024, 2025, and beyond. It just so happens that the rebuild has been fast-tracked and the Reds are actually in contention for a spot in the postseason. This experience will be invaluable for these young players moving forward.

Reds fans are dying to see a return to the MLB Playoffs, and it's certainly in the cards. But win, lose, or draw, the Cincinnati faithful should be excited about the future of Reds baseball.

2. Reds manager David Bell deserved the contract extension he signed earlier this season.

Is there a more polarizing person in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse than David Bell? I would venture to say, no. The Reds manager is oftentimes the target of the fanbase's ire when things go wrong. But rarely does Bell get credit when things go right. Such is the life of a major league manager.

Bell was handed a three-year contract extension earlier this season, and the Reds skipper earned it. There are those fans who will say, "Look at the Reds record since Bell received his contract extension." To which I would say, look at strength of opponents and the number of injuries that occurred during that stretch.

Does Bell make some boneheaded decisions sometimes? Name me one manager who doesn't. Is Bell incredibly reliant on computer models and spreadsheets? Yes, and so is every other manager in the game today.

Like it or not, analytics has taken over the game of baseball, and a manager's "feel" for the game is now trumped in favor of how he handles a player's ego and manages the clubhouse. It's a different generation of baseball, and today's players gravitate towards a manager like Bell.

You can argue that the Cincinnati Reds handed David Bell a contract extension at the wrong time, but there's no way to argue that he didn't deserve it. While some fans don't like the idea of Bell managing their favorite team for the next three years, that's the reality they're going to have to live with.

3. The Reds were right to avoid additions at the trade deadline.

A major sticking point for some individuals throughout the Cincinnati Reds fanbase was the fact that the front office made virtually no additions at this year's trade deadline. Outside of reliever Sam Moll, the Reds stood pat at the trade deadline.

With Cincinnati looking like a playoff contender, the entire month of July was spent analyzing which players the Reds should target prior to the August 1st deadline. In the end, nothing really materialized.

There were whispers that Cincinnati was looking to trade for a starting pitcher. Jonathan India's name was tossed about as a possible trade chip, and fans were eager to move on from Nick Senzel and Jose Barrero. But after the deadline passed, the Reds roster looked almost exactly the same.

This goes back to the fact that this season has always been about developing the young talent. That's rather difficult to do when some high-priced veteran is taking aways at-bats or starts from a young prospect who could be part of the team's future.

There are those who claim that, "you never know when you're going to be in contention again," and "next year is not guaranteed." And while those are true statements, the Cincinnati Reds are following the model set forth by the Baltimore Orioles.

The O's underwent a full-on rebuild and now occupy the top spot in the American League with a roster made up of mostly homegrown, young major league talent. The Reds are hoping to do the same, and that's not possible if you sacrifice too much of your young talent on the one-off chance that you'll make the playoffs.

4. Joey Votto will be back in a Reds uniform in 2024.

If David Bell is the most polarizing person in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse, Joey Votto is a close second. Votto is generally beloved by the majority of Reds fans, but he has his fair share of detractors as well.

But even the biggest Votto hater knows that this isn't the end of the line for the former NL MVP, right? Votto is in the final guaranteed year of the 10-year contract extension he signed back in 2012. The six-time All-Star has a $20-million club-option for next season with a $7-million buyout.

While it seems highly unlikely that Cincinnati will bring Votto back at that $20-million number, there's every reason to believe that the organization and Votto will work something out during the offseason in order for the slugger to return for one more season.

Joey Votto has been the face of Cincinnati Reds baseball for the better part of a decade, and it just feels like the 40-year-old isn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet. Though his 2023 season was curtailed by a shoulder injury, it's hard to believe that Votto will want to walk away from what could be his best chance to win a ring since 2012.

The truth of the matter is that this decision ultimate lies with Joey Votto. If Votto can accept a reduced role and not anticipate being a full-time starter, the Reds will likely welcome him back with open arms. Look for Votto to be back in the Reds dugout next season.

5. Young teams like the Reds need more time to develop than some fans want to give them.

Young players oftentimes burst onto the scene and excite the fanbase with thoughts of "what if". What if he's the All-Star we've been waiting for? What if he's the ace of the pitching staff? What if he's the future MVP?

It's only natural, and it happens in all sports. But in the NFL and the NBA, it's not out of the ordinary for a rookie sensation to take off in Year 1 and become a household name just two or three years into his professional career. It's a little different in baseball, and Reds fans are experiencing that first-hand.

The Cincinnati Reds have sent so many rookies into the fray this season that it's hard to keep track. Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, and Connor Phillips are just a few names that come to mind.

But this year's Reds team is incredibly young, and it's going to take them time to reach their full potential. That means De La Cruz is going to strikeout four times in a game, Phillips might walk five batters in two innings, or Hunter Greene might give up five home runs in a start.

But don't let one bad game, or even one bad stretch define a young player's career. These players are learning on the job, and there are going to be stretches where you want to bang your head against the wall. But baseball is a game of adjustments, and fans need to be patient and allow the youngsters to figure it out.

In the end, it's talent that ultimately wins out, and the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of it. You could argue that the Reds already have their infield and starting rotation in place for the next five years. It's an exciting time to be a Reds fan, but patience is needed along the way.