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 email@example.com.
Q: Would David Bell be the manager of the Cincinnati Reds today if he didn’t have the same DNA of former Reds players? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: It is because of his DNA that he is a baseball lifer? He grandfather was Gus Bell and his father is Buddy Bell. He used that DNA, and a lot of hard work and preparation, to be a solid player, a good minor league manager and a good front office guy. Of course, as it is with all managers, his players will make him good or bad. I lean toward the good side.
Q: Given that the Reds have a large number of potential starting outfielders in camp do you think they will keep both Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp or will they trade for more pitching? LEE, West Carrollton.
A: A team can never have enough good players and the Reds’ bench was weak last year. Having Kemp on the bench is a plus, if he is agreeable to it, which remains to be seen. A guy like him usually isn’t happy spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout. And actually the potential starting pitchers outnumber the potential starting outfielders.
Q: If Nick Senzel wins the center field job this season, do you think he will stay there long term or move back to the infield when there is an opening? — JIM, Leitchfield, KY.
A: I have my doubts that he is the answer in center field. I see him starting the season at Triple-A Louisville and Scott Schebler will be in center. My foggy and cracked crystal ball sees Senzel at second base in 2020 because I don’t think the Reds are going to give Scooter Gennett a long-term contract and he’ll be gone via free agency after this season.
Q: Robert Stephenson is out of options so where will he end up come Opening Day? — MARK, Kettering.
A: Not only is the former No. 1 draft pick out of options, he is probably out of chances with the Reds. The Reds are out of patience with him after giving him chance after chance. Teams don’t like to give up on No. 1 picks, but the best I can see for him is getting fitted for another Triple-A Louisville uniform. Wouldn’t surprise me if they designated him for assignment.
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Q: Due to the one-year deals most of the Reds’ newcomers have (Yasiel Puig, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp), do you see the team starting the rebuild mode again in 2020? — JEFF, Troy.
A: Oh, that dreaded ‘R’ word. Unless the team can sign some of them to long-term deals, I fear that is the case. I can’t see most of them giving up their free agent year to sign long-term with the Reds. They say they still have money to spend, but not that much for four potential free agents. So, yes, I see them retreating to the rebuild process in 2020.
Q: Are you surprised with the direction of the front office with this year’s coaching staff and the addition of specialty coaches that are analytics guys? — JAY, Englewood.
A: Not at all, knowing the background and thinking of Dick Williams and Nick Krall, the top two on the organizational chart. Analytics are the current end-all in baseball these days. I just hope they don’t go too far because analytics can’t measure heart, desire and get-your-uniform-dirty facets of the game. The 1927 Yankees, the 1950s Yankees and the Big Red Machine did just fine without computers and spreadsheets and launch angles and spin ratios.
Q: Tell us what you think of the pitchers? JUDY, Centerville.
A: The new ones? They come with some success in their background, but they bring baggage, too. Tanner Roark lost 15 games for the Nationals last year, Alex Wood and Sonny Gray both were demoted to the bullpen last year. So far this spring, other than Roark, the other two have struggled, as have the other two returnees, Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani. Spring training, of course, can fool you. But what the Reds have done is take a chance that the three newcomers will recapture their ghosts of the past.
Q: What do they do with Phillip Ervin if he stays hot? — CHRIS, Brookville.
A: It is very early and most pitchers are not at their best as they tinker with pitches and polish their deliveries. Baseball history is full of spring training phenoms who become regular season fizzles. That’s not to say Ervin will fizzle, but I believe he is a long shot to even make the team given all the outfield options the Reds have.