Ask Hal: What do Reds need to make playoffs in 2022?

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: Was the collapse of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of this season the worst time while you have covered the team? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: The worst time was 1982 when the Reds set a club record of 101 losses. They won 61, but I don’t remember any of those. I remember writing loss after loss after loss, especially those of pitcher Mario Soto, who pitched good enough to win 20 games, but got no offensive help. He was 14-13 with a 2.79 earned run average, threw 13 complete games and struck out 274 in 257 2/3s innings. Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton won the Cy Young and deserved it with a 23-11 record and 19 complete games. Soto, though, deserved some votes and got none.

Q: Which areas do the Reds need to address in the offseason if they are going to have any chance of making the playoffs next year? — RYAN/ELVIS, Englewood.

A: If they are honestly serious, they have to make a competitive bid and make a wholehearted effort to keep Nick Castellanos. If they don’t, they aren’t serious about winning. They still need to address the bullpen, even though it got better after they acquired Luis Cessa, Mychal Givens and Justin Wilson. They still need a closer like, oh, Raisel Iglesias. And third base. Eugenio Suarez? Mike Moustakas? Nick Senzel? Somebody else, anybody else.

Q: Two top Reds minor league executives were let go last month after there seems to be a decent pipeline of talent in the system at the moment, so why the change? — TOM, Beavercreek.

A: Kyle Boddy and C.J. Gillman were not let go. They quit. Boddy and Gillman were hired two years ago as Director of Pitching and Minor League Hitting Coach. They were hired by Director of Baseball Operations Dick Williams and Senior Director of Player Development Eric Lee. Williams quit to go into private business and Lee took a spot as athletic director at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Conn.

Both Boddy and Gillman were positive additions, but both cited the implementation of different philosophies after Williams and Lee departed. So they left, too. I asked this years ago of owner Bob Castellini and he was angry with me, but I’ll ask it again: “When will this organization show some stability?”

Q: It appears that the Reds young players are more built for speed than power (Jonathan India, Nick Senzel, Joe Barrero, T.J. Friedl, Michael Siani), so any chance they might re-tool this team to a speed, defense and pitching style? — STEVE, Owensboro, Ky.

A: No, that style alone doesn’t fit today’s game. But speed still kills and adding speed to power, defense and pitching is a big plus. While guys like India, Barrero and Friedl do have speed and are solid defensively, they also can hit balls out of the ball park, especially Great American Small Park. Power still rules these days so there will be no re-tooling.

Q: Will attendance at Cleveland Indians games suffer because of the name change or is it simply wins and losses? — PAT, Columbus.

A: Who are the Indians? It’s Guardians. That’s what I keep reading, but to me they’ll always be the Indians and the Tribe. Or maybe the Cleveland - - - - dians. Some people say they are done with the team due to the name change, but if you win, they will come.

Q: What do you foresee coming out of collective bargaining because the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) is expiring? — GREG, Albuquerque.

A: Gloom and doom. Negotiations don’t even start before December and they always are long and drawn out. I can’t see them coming to an agreement on a new CBA before the beginning of spring training, which probably means an ugly work stoppage. On the agenda is implementing the DH in the National League, expanded playoffs (more teams) and other things that need approval from both sides. I vote no on both the major issues, but my vote doesn’t count.

Q: Eugenio Suarez, Mike Moustakas, Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman: Who goes, who stays? — ARLEY, Hamilton.

A: So you are making me GM for a day? A lot of folks won’t like that. There are contract issues involved with those decisions. But based merely on value to the team, I say that Moustakas, Aquino, Senzel, Akiyama, Garrett and Hoffman go. Suarez, Miley and Castillo stay. The Reds have enough on the roster and in their system to replace those six guys who have not contributed much toward a winning culture.

Q: Since umpires are not wearing advertising on their jerseys, how long before players begin displaying advertising? — RICHARD, Brookville.

A: Believe me, it’s coming. It won’t be long before baseball players look like soccer player or NASCAR drivers. There is money to be made by putting company logo patches on uniforms. Baseball has bowed to the gambling industry and the commercial industry is coming to a uniform near you.

Q: Former player and broadcaster Mike Shannon is retiring from the broadcast booth and do you have any stories about Mike? —RON, Vandalia.

A: He is quite the character. He loves horse racing and took me several times across the Mississippi River to Farmount Park in Collinsville, Ill., now FanDuel Horse Racing. Like most horse players, the horses won and he (like me) lost. He also owned an excellent steak house in downtown St. Louis and did post-game shows from the dining room. I was a guest several times on the show and the reward was a nicely done strip steak. I always asked him if I was eating the carcass of one of the horses he picked at Fairmount.


Q: Why was David Bell given a two-year extension? — MICHAEL, Villa Hills, Ky.

A: That’s one for the front office and GM Nick Krall says Bell is the right guy to lead this team. Despite heavy criticism from the fan base over Bell’s bullpen methods and his lineup cards, using what was given him, Bell did have them in playoff contention most of the year and he did lead them to an above .500 season, something most recent Reds teams couldn’t accomplish.

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