A: Reds relief pitchers have given up home runs 17 times this year to the first batter they’ve faced. But walking the first batter probably wouldn’t help because then they’d give up a home run to the second batter and it would be two runs instead of one. Maybe if the relief pitchers would quit throwing fastballs down the middle and hanging sliders they might actually get that first hitter out. Maybe.
Q: Do you think the Reds should change managers right now? — TOM, Eaton.
A: No, I don’t. Unfortunately, even though the team is in rebuild mode and Bryan Price is managing with both hands tied behind his back and a blindfold, he might be gone during the All-Star break. While the team is bad, it isn’t living up to even the most meager of expectations. Remember the old TV series called The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors? Just call Price “The Fall Guy.” They’ll probably name an interim manager, maybe Jim Riggleman, for the rest of the season.
Q: What is the worst earned-run average in major-league history for a relief pitcher? — FRED, Fairfield.
A: If you believe J.J. Hoover is going to set the record, it isn’t going to happen, even with his current 13.50 ERA. To be considered, a pitcher has to appear in more than 60 games. Hoover has appeared in 18 so far and it isn’t likely he’ll make 60 this year. The top three: Jesse Orosco (7.75 for 65 games in 2003), Alan Embree (7.62 for 67 games in 2005), Javier Lopez (7.52 for 64 games in 2004). How soon we forget. Hoover appeared in 67 games last year and was 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA. I know, I know — what have you done for me lately?
Q: How do players ever get charged with errors when there should have been two on the inside-the-park home run hit by Anthony Rizzo when the ball hit left fielder Adam Duvall’s glove and the Reds messed up the relay throw? — RICK, Vandalia.
A: So you want to take away one of the most exciting plays that has happened this year in Great American Ball Park? The official scorer makes the determination and he usually is more lenient with the home team and lenient overall to defenders. Duvall had to make a long run to get to the ball and avoid center fielder Billy Hamilton at the same time. And the scorer obviously determined Rizzo would have beaten any throw at home even if the relay had been clean. Pitcher Cody Reed, charged with three earned runs on the play, probably secretly disagrees.
Q: If Cincinnati is the baseball capital, then why doesn’t management recognize this, because we’re near the All-Star break and 23 games out of first place? — JON, Dayton.
A: Pete Rose called Cincinnati the capital of baseball, but St. Louis might disagree. And the inhabitants of Wrigley Field might disagree. Fans flock to those venues whether their teams are good, mediocre or bad. Reds owner Bob Castellini probably made a mistake when he bought the team and said he wanted to return it to the glory days of The Big Red Machine. That probably won’t happen. And while the celebrations of that team are great, the BRM days are nearly a half century past and it is time to leave them in the archives as fond memories.
Q: Besides Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart, which Reds players do you think might be traded? — TERESA, Cincinnati.
A: I don’t believe Cozart will be traded this year. Maybe next year. The Reds still have control of him for another year, he is relatively inexpensive right now and the team doesn’t have a legitimate shortstop waiting. They’d like to trade Joey Votto, but his contract is a difficult proposition. They’d definitely like to trade Brandon Phillips, but he keeps blocking trades with his 10-and-5 clause. And they’d probably like to trade the entire bullpen for a bag of used baseballs.
Q: I have never seen a rotation of three left-handers in a row like the Reds have right now (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Cody Reed). Shouldn’t they be separated because it is an advantage to the opposition to see three left-handers in a row? — MICHAEL, Phoenix, Ariz.
A: I asked that same question of manager Bryan Price and he said it would be addressed after the upcoming All-Star break. My guess is that by then right-hander Robert Stephenson will be with the team and Lamb will go to the bullpen and the rotation will be: DeSclafani (R), Finnegan (L), Stephenson (R), Reed (L), Dan Straily (R). Or Straily could go to the bullpen and Lamb might stay. But I don’t make out the lineup cards.
Q: Do you see the Reds moving Jay Bruce to Los Angeles, and what could the Reds get for him from the Dodgers? — JAY, Englewood.
A: I’ve heard the L.A. rumors, but I’ve also heard rumors involving three or four other teams. As to whom the Reds might acquire, it takes two to ballroom dance and it is a matter of what a team is willing to give up and if the Reds are willing to accept that. For sure, it will be more prospects, hopefully top prospects and not suspects, and some position players.
Q: Pete Rose freaks say he is the greatest hitter of all-time, but don’t you think he doesn’t even belong in the team picture with hitters of his era like Tony Gwynn, George Brett and Rod Carew? — JACK, Miami Twp.
A: Jack, what flavor Kool-Aid are you drinking? And why do you call Pete Rose fans freaks? Did you lose a bet to Pete? Rose not only belongs in that picture, he should be right in the middle with Gwynn, Brett and Carew flanking him. He is The Hit King (and that’s with no apologies to Ichiro Suzuki).