Ask Hal: Finally Reds’ pipeline includes pitchers

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: Would Ron Oester have made a good manager for the Cincinnati Reds? — DAVE, Fort Loramie.

A: Back in 2001, absolutely. That’s when general manager Jim Bowden offered him the job and Oester asked for 24 hours to think about. But Bowden gave the job to Bob Boone. Now? No. Baseball times have changed so much. Oester is definitely old school. He would have been a no-nonsense tough skin guy who demanded accountability. And analytics? He would have burned them on his desk.

Q: Do you expect the Reds to continue with the shuffling of young pitchers from within their system, as opposed to trading for an experienced closer and set-up man? —KEITH, Brookville.

A: For year, the Reds couldn’t develop their own pitching and nearly always went outside for help. But that has vastly improved and there are a lot of good arms within the organization. Look for the Reds to promote from within because they do have a lot of prospects/suspects.

Q: Have you seen Jazz Chisholm play for the Miami Marlins and what do you think of him compared to the Reds’ infielders? — RALPH, Key West, Fla.

A: Indeed, I have and I am impressed with the 23-year-old second baseman. Not only is he talented, he is an entertainer/showman. Love his home run antics. I’d still take Jonathan India, given my ‘druthers. But I’d find room for Chisholm somewhere because he has a positive future. How soon before the Marlins trade him?

Q: Who do the Reds have that isn’t under control for next year? — BERNIE, Bellbrook.

A: The big one is Nick Castellanos, who has an opt-out clause in his contract. Consider him opted-out. Catcher Tucker Barnhart can become a free agent and with the success of rookie Tyler Stephenson, color Barnhart gone. Wade Miley can become a free agent if the Reds don’t pick up his $10 million club option. They should pick up that option. Pitchers Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens can become free agents and my guess is both will test free agency.

Q: Why do Cincinnati pro teams continue to reward mediocrity with managers and coaches? —GREG, Wauseon, Oh.

A: Well, FC Cincinnati fired coach Jaap Stam, but FC was below mediocre. Both the Bengals and Reds have been mediocre, but both are improving under Zac Taylor of David Bell. One thing to remember. Both organizations are money conscious, and Taylor and Bell are inexpensive. Bell received a two-year extension and has that time to make his mark by further improve the team’s fortunes. Stay tuned.

Q: Why wasn’t pitcher Woodie Fryman more effective in Cincinnati, after being dealt closer to home from Montreal? —DAVID, Troy, N.Y.

A: That was one of baseball’s great mysteries. Fryman is from Ewing, Ky., and one would think he would love pitching in Cincinnati, close to home. He didn’t love it. He hated it. This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe it was because he was traded for Tony Perez, one of most unpopular trades in Reds history and Fryman feared the fans would hold it against him. He was 5-5 with a 5.38 ERA for the Reds in 1977. He wanted traded and the Reds accommodated him after the season, dealing him to the Chicago Cubs for Bill Bonham. No matter where Fryman pitched, he wasn’t very consistent. His career record was 141-155.

Q: Umpires are checking pitchers for foreign substances after every inning, but why don’t they check them before they pitch? — MESA BILL, West Milton.

A: Because that makes too much sense and what sense has there been to anything commissioner Rob Manfred is imposing on the game. A pitcher can cheat before he gets caught. If the umpires checked them before they went to the mound it would stop him from applying a foreign substance to the ball. They way MLB does it is like making air passengers go through a TSA checkpoint after they get off the planes instead of before they embark.

Q: With the way that batters always adjust their batting gloves, is there an official Velcro sponsor for Major League Baseball? — RON, Vandalia.

A: Velcro is extremely adhesive, and I can’t believe it comes loose on batting gloves after every pitch and needs adjustments. It is probably force of habit. I don’t know about Velcro, but seeing the adornments on players, MLB should have an official jeweler. Gillette used to be a big MLB sponsor, but seeing all the beards and long hair most players have no idea what Gillette sells. Gillette was baseball’s oldest sponsor, dating back more than 100 years. But the company bailed out on baseball in 2018. Can you blame them?

Q: Do you have any good stories about a starting pitcher getting upset with a relief pitcher that blew a win for him? — TED, Hamilton.

A: I don’t even have any bad stories. If it happens, it is done in private. In 48 years of covering baseball, I’ve never heard a starting pitcher rip on a relief pitcher for blowing a save. And if anybody had reason to do it, it would be Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle. He turned over eight leads to the Reds bullpen this year that they blew, the most in baseball. But like all good soldiers, Mahle took the grin-and-bear-it attitude.

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