Ask Hal: It’s no slump, Reds simply aren’t good

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: What is your prediction as to how long this Cincinnati Reds slump will continue? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: I wouldn’t call it a slump. I’d call it not having enough quality players to compete. And that should last all season. In fairness, too, the early-season schedule was deemed the most difficult of all MLB teams and they have had enough players on the injured list to fill the guest book at Princess Diana-Prince Charles wedding. For the Reds it has been the Perfect Storm and (until this week) they’ve been lost at sea.

Q: Do you think Hunter Greene is really ready for the majors? — JOHN, Bellbrook.

A: Probably not, but he should learn more pitching in the majors than another year in the minors. The Reds are not headed for the playoffs, so Greene’s education is not hurting them. He has, of course, a big-league fastball, but needs to keep it out of the center of the plate so Milwaukee doesn’t hit five home runs. And he needs to work on throwing his slider for strikes and to develop his change-up. If the Reds were contenders. he wouldn’t belong. They are not, so why not let him learn from the school of hard knocks.

Q: Why does Barry Larkin only work home games on television? — KENNETH, Morrow.

A: That is the way he prefers it and is the way it is in his contract. Most likely, during his long career as a Hall of Fame shortstop he did enough traveling and spent enough time away from his family. But he wants to manage and if that happens, he’ll be packing a lot of bags again.

Q: Who would have been your designated hitter if it existed during the Big Red Machine years? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: That’s an easy one. Dan Driessen. He was the first National League DH during the 1976 World Series. If the DH had been in play for the National League during the season, history would have been altered. The Reds never would have traded Tony Perez. He was traded to make room for Driessen at first base. With the DH, they could have kept Perez and used him or Driessen as the DH. It is the only reason I wish the DH had been in the National League.

Q: Of all the players no longer on the Reds this year, which one do the Reds miss the most? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: Frank Robinson? Tony Perez? Paul O’Neill? Oh, you mean the recently departed. So far this season, most of the players general manager Nick Krall dumped are not doing well. The one that is, is the one the Reds miss the most. Nick Castellanos has taken to the Philadelphia Phillies what he gave to the Reds — solid numbers, hustle play, leadership in the clubhouse. They really missed him through all the injuries to the outfielders like Nick Senzel and Tyler Naquin. That forced manager David Bell to continue playing Aristides Aquino and his 2 for 42 with 23 strikeouts.

Q: Joey Votto was playing almost every game while hitting .122 with no homers and 29 strikeouts in 74 at-bats before COVID-19 put him in the injured list, so does manager David Bell or does upper management decide to keep a $25 million per year player in the lineup? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Money is no issue. Just flip over his baseball card and peruse his statistics. They don’t lie. Yes, that’s in the past and he is 38, but check his numbers from last year. Pretty good, eh? The Reds are patiently awaiting him to break loose. And the other part is, who would replace him?

Q: What do you think about getting something in a trade for Tyler Mahle or Luis Castillo? — JAY, Englewood.

A: If the Reds don’t do a 180 and win consistently, one or both could be gone around the trade deadline, even though the club still has financial control. Both should command a substantial return, but based on what they got for all the players they dumped in the off-season, it is suspected that the team doesn’t hold out for much.

Q: I’m sure you’re not allowed to get autographs, but whose was the neatest and whose was the sloppiest? — TYLER, West Carrollton.

A: You are correct. If a media person is spotted asking a player for an autograph, he or she can lose their credentials. The best two autographs I’ve seen for neatest, and readability were Ken Griffey Jr., and Marty Brennaman. The sloppiest? About 90 percent of athletes’ autographs are scribbles and straight lines, mostly unreadable. Why? The quicker they scribble and draw straight lines, the quicker they get it done.

Q: Do the other owners of MLB franchises have the capacity to discipline a franchise that fails through obvious ineptitude? — JACK, Vandalia.

A: If a franchise is mismanaged and is a constant loser, the other owners are happy about it. Easy wins. It doesn’t hurt them financially. Most of baseball’s revenue comes from television. Small crowds don’t hurt that much. There is no precedent for owners to gang up on another owner for perceived ineptitude. If that were the case, former Oakland A’s owner Charles O. Finley would have had his franchise yanked very early in his ownership.

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