Ask Hal: Judge Price as Reds’ manager when he has a roster to compete

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

As a former tennis player what are your thoughts regarding the ATP World Tour testing Hawk-Eye Live, an electronic line-calling device that would eliminate the need for line judges and might this lead the way for computerized calls in baseball? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

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A: I certainly hope not because baseball is becoming more and more computerized. Why can’t we just design robots to play the game and be done with it. It is a good thing they didn’t have computerized line judges when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors played. They would have destroyed those machines with their racquets. And Billy Martin would have kicked a baseball strike-calling machine into crumpled tin.

Q: Since the Reds pitching staff is young and they watch the number of innings pitched have they considered a six-man rotation? STOCC, Miamisburg.

A: Actually, manager Bryan Price did discuss it at times the last couple of years. With all the injuries, though, they might not be able to find six healthy guys. What bothers Price about a six-man rotation is that five days of rest might be too much between starts to keep arms sharp. And with the experience most of the young pitchers gained last year they may not have to limit innings. And who pitches more than six innings a game any more. Over 30 starts, that’s only 180 innings.

Q: How much longer do we need to wait to judge manager Bryan Price and his close to 400 losses? — RICK, Vandalia.

A: Here we go again. The season is still two weeks away and already fans are howling like coyotes for a man to lose his job. I don’t understand why fans don’t understand that the Reds are rebuilding and they are not trying to win. So how can the manager be held accountable when the team sends most of its accomplished players packing, trade most of them for prospects for the future? The future is not now. And 372 losses (over four years) is not ‘close’ to 400 defeats. You can judge Bryan Price when the team gives him the arsenal to compete.

Q: Last year the Reds gave away garden gnomes, whatever those might be, so I ask why and what genius thing they have planned this year? — RON, Vandalia.

A: Nadine and I have a Reds gnome in our front yard flower garden. They only problem is that it doesn’t scare away the cardinals. Maybe this year they’ll give away miniature bear traps that might catch cubs. Forget the silly promotions, what the Reds can do best for their fans is give them many more victories. But gnomes are cheaper.

Q: With all the injuries, are today’s pitchers less sturdy than those of the good old days? — JEFF, Springboro.

A: We all love to harken back to the good old days with selective memories. I often wonder the same thing, then I think back to the good old days of The Big Red Machine and I remember devastating injuries to Wayne Simpson, Gary Nolan and Don Gullett. It is curious to me, though, that pitchers used to pitch in a four-man rotation and pitch complete games without absurd pitch counts and have fewer injuries ( I think) than we see in today’s game, even though we have medical marvels nobody even dreamed about in the, uh, good old days.

Q: What do you see the Reds doing with Nick Senzel this year because I think he needs to be in the lineup every day. — JAY, Englewood.

A: As Paul Masson one said about not selling wine before its time, let’s not push Nick Senzel before his time. The 22-year-old infielder has played only a year-and-a-half in the minors, only half a season in AA and no games in Triple-A. He carries himself like a major leaguer and looks like a major leaguer, but there is no room for him to play every day because the Reds plan to start the season with Eugenio Suarez at third, Jose Peraza at shortstop and Scooter Gennett at second. Senzel did play shortstop at the University of Tennessee and is working out some at shortstop. If Pereza fails, Senzel would be an option after he starts the season at Triple-A. And he is working with Barry Larkin and, yes, I know Larkin played only 175 minor-league games, but 103 were at Triple-A. Senzel is just half-step away, but he’ll start in Triple-A.

Q: Didn’t the Reds say last year that they would give Raisel Iglesias a chance to be in the starting rotation, so what happened? — Jason, Ottumwa, Iowa.

A: Yes, they did and I fear the same thing is happening that happened with Aroldis Chapman. Chapman was put into the closer’s role and loved it and didn’t want to be a starter. And it is the same with Iglesias. He loves the closer’s role. But when you finish last every year, what good is a closer when that closer has the best arm on the team. You wonder why management doesn’t just say, ‘Hey, you are going to start.’ Make a mistake once and it is passable, but make the same mistake twice and it makes you look bad.

Q: Why hasn’t Ron Oester been given a chance to manage the Reds? SID, Lexington, Ky.

A: Oester was offered the job for the 2001 season by general manager Jim Bowden. Oester asked if he could sleep on the offer, but before he could give Bowden an answer Bob Boone was given the job. Oester was extremely angry and rightfully so because he wasn’t given the opportunity to say yes or no and Bowden jerked the carpet out from under him. I always thought Oester would have made an outstanding manager, but his outspoken reaction to Bowden probably closed the door on him managing the Reds or any other team. Too bad.


Q: Do the Reds have a Plan B if Jose Peraza gets hurt or doesn’t work out and what would you do? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: The Reds seem set that Peraza is their shortstop for now and the future and his rope is extremely long. They don’t claim to have a Plan B. What would I do? The last time the Reds asked my opinion on anything was, well, never. What I would do is slide Eugenio Suarez back to shortstop, his original position, and put Nick Senzel at third. But I don’t think the Reds want to start the free agent/arbitration clock on Senzel right now and he will play this year at Class AAA Louisville.

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