By Matthew McAdow
After losing a tight battle at Arrowhead on New Year’s Eve, our beloved Bengals have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. In terms of the whole season, this year was quite a disappointment, and it is a testament to how quick things change in today’s NFL. Cincinnati is currently 8-8 with one game left against the Browns. While I figured I would feel disappointed after the loss, it was quite odd as the clock went to 0:00, it almost felt like a relief. In a year that was so frustrating, it honestly just felt good for it to basically come to an end, as each week has truly been a struggle. I love Cincinnati and love the core of this team, but it certainly is time for an overhaul. The focus needs to shift to putting a team together that can win games in the AFC North and I think they’ll address the issues as much as they can this offseason. In the near future, we’ll be talking about the season as a whole, free agency, what this team needs for the following year, but for now, let’s discuss what we just watched in Kansas City.
- Trey Hendrickson had another sack, tying him for the lead in the NFL with 17 this season. What a year for 91!
- While Cincinnati gave up 25 points, they lead for the majority of the game. Harrison Butker went 6-6 on field goals and was the difference maker in this one.
- Cincinnati had the ball for 34 minutes, nearly 10 more minutes than Kansas City.
- Cincinnati held Travis Kelce to 3 catches for 16 yards.
- I don’t care what the analytics say, if you have a chance to go up a full score against Kansas City with your backup quarterback, kick the field goal. This was such a momentum change.
- Not scoring in the second half after scoring 14 in the second quarter alone was the difference maker in this one.
- As much as I love Tee Higgins and as much as I want him to get paid, he simply cannot stay healthy. He injured his hamstring in this one and left this team stranded yet again, despite playing through his injury. It feels like we never have healthy Burrow, Higgins, and Chase firing on all cylinders and it has been a massive issue in 2023.
- 8 rushes for 16 yards in the second half. That certainly didn’t help get points on the board. There is a massive makeover that needs to happen. Someone should probably Ty Pennington for this one, “Move that bus!”
- Rashee Rice had 5 receptions for 127 yards. Explosive plays and chunk plays have killed us throughout the entire year.
Reds on the Brain
Cincinnati Reds baseball has been on my mind for the majority of this football season and with recent additions to the roster, this team is more than capable of winning the NL Central. With the addition of former Yankee, Frankie Montas, Cincinnati now has the most depth of a roster that a Reds team has put together in my lifetime. This offseason, Cincinnati has made the following moves:
- Frankie Montas – 16 Million
- Jeimer Candelario – 15 Million
- Nick Martinez – 14 Million
- Emilio Pagan – 8 Million
- Buck Farmer – 2.25 Million
- Luke Maile – 3 Million
I have repeatedly stated “All-In” on my social media accounts and it is definitely true of this Reds front office. I don’t believe they are finished improving this roster yet and they are showing all of Cincinnati that they are doing everything they can to win this year. While it was never true, it is time for the narrative of “Cincinnati never spends money” to go. The weak comment of “They trade all their good players away” has always been false and needs to go as well. It feels so good knowing a plan is in place and there is a clear vision of where this team wants to be in 2024. The ownership and front office deserves a ton of credit and if you are a fan that is still upset about Winker and Suarez, it’s time to look back and evaluate that trade now.
Noelvi Marte & Rafa Nieves join Matt’s Take
Noelvi Marte, 22 year old phenom, kindly joined Matt’s Take this week, along with one of the most respected agents in baseball, Rafa Nieves. With Votto not on the roster, Marte has quickly become my favorite player on this roster and he showed flashes of being one of the most special young players we have seen in quite some time in the Queen City. Last season, he batted .316 with 3 homeruns in his limited time called up on this roster. He certainly has the ability to be a frontrunner for a possible rookie of the year award and we all can’t wait for him to continue to grow as a player. Rafa Nieves is an MLBPA certified sports agent who represents Noelvi Marte, as well as Luis Castillo, Jose Ramirez, Geraldo Perdomo, and many others. He has been instrumental in putting together many contracts for well-known players and is well respected throughout the baseball community.
Noelvi Marte Q&A
Q: What is your goal for the 2024 season?
A: “Win the National League ROY and help the team win a World Series.”
Q: What position do you prefer playing?
Q: What is something this team needs to improve on to be a true contender in 2024?
A: “I think we need to get more experienced. We are a young core and that will come with time.”
Q: If you could watch a game with any past player, who would you choose?
A: “Pedro Martinez.”
Q: What is something you’re working on this off-season?
A: “I am trying to improve and work on my launch angle.”
Rafa Nieves Q&A
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: “Seeing the clients we have worked with since the ground floor come up to the big leagues and reach their dreams.”
Q: What is the toughest part of your job?
A: “Dealing with unqualified agents who try to poach young players with bribes.
Q: What do you hope to see from Noelvi in 2024?
A: “NL ROY, ASG and his first taste of October baseball.”
Q: How did your and Noelvi’s relationship begin?
A: “We had a client who shared the same strength and conditioning trainer in DR as Noelvi. The trainer told us about Noelvi when he was 14 years old and started building the relationship back then.”
Q: How did you begin your career in being a sports agent?
A: “I played 3 years in the minors and then started working as a recruiter for Beverly Hills Sports Council.”