Ask Hal: With Iglesias gone, who will be the Reds’ closer?

Reds reliever Amir Garrett reacts after striking out the side against the Brewers on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Caption
Reds reliever Amir Garrett reacts after striking out the side against the Brewers on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

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 halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: Now that the team is allowed 30 percent capacity for 2021 home games, might the Reds suffer financial loss? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: That means 12,696 fans are permitted and there were days in recent years they didn’t draw that many. In 2019, the last year fans were permitted, the Reds averaged 22,329, next to last in the National League. But rest assured, as long as there are TV cameras pointed at the field of play, no major league team will be financially strapped. The Reds are worth $1 billion and they are only 28th of 30 on the Major League value list.

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Q: Now that the Reds traded Raisel Iglesias, who is going to be the closer? — RON, Fort Wayne, Ind.

A: If there is a closer and Amir Garrett doesn’t get the job they may have to provide manager David Bell with a bodyguard. Garrett says, “It is mine.” Right now, though, Bell is non-commital and has hinted at a bullpen-by-committee and said, “Many times the seventh and eighth innings are as important, or more important, than the ninth inning.”

Q: Where do you rank Vada Pinson on the all-time list of Reds’ center fielders? — BILLY, Louisville, Ky.

A: Vada Pinson (what a great first name for a baseball player) is one of baseball’s all-time underrated outfielders and should be in the Hall of Fame. The Reds have had some great and good center fielders like Eric Davis, Cesar Geronimo, Gus Bell and Edd Roush. To me, Pinson is at the top.

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Q: Why do the Reds keep signing minor league outfielders? Did Dollar Tree have a special sale? — MARK, Kettering.

A: That is curious and a question for GM Nick Krall. It seems as if the team might be returning to the days of GM Jim Bowden: “Throw enough crap against the wall and some of it might stick.” The Reds definitely are taking the low-cost trail this year, hoping to catch lightning in a catcher’s mitt.

Q: How serious do you think players will take the pandemic rules? — CRISS, Delaware, OH.

A: Very seriously. MLB is clamped down on them and rightly so. We are not past the COVID-19 threat. Many of the Reds are wearing masks during Zoom press conferences when they are the only person in the room. And the Reds are enforcing and strictly following all of MLB’s protocols. If players stray, there are some rigid consequences.

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Q: What would you think about shifting Eugenio Suarez from third to short, shifting Mike Moustakas from second to third and placing Dee Strange-Gordon at second base? — DAVE, Dayton.

A: What I think doesn’t matter because they don’t ask me. What you propose makes a lot of sense. Suarez came up as a shortstop and played there with Detroit, Moustakas is a natural third baseman and Strange-Gordon played a lot of second base. With the Reds in need of a shortstop, Suarez is a great option. The Reds, though, do not include his name in the shortstop pot. They believe he has worked too long and hard to become a good third baseman and don’t want him to start all over at shortstop.

Q: Do you see Hunter Greene grabbing a rotation spot this year? — KEN, Hamilton.

A: No, not at all. With no minor league games last year, Greene missed a whole year of competitive development. He most likely will pitch at Class AAA Louisville this year. As of now, my rotation guess: Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Wade Miley, Tyler Mahle and either Michael Lorenzen or Tejay Antone.

Q: What are your best spring training memories? — DAVE, Beavercreek.

A: Oh, so many. Sitting in the left field bleachers, the ‘auxiliary press box’ at old Al Lopez Field in Tampa getting sun tanned, sitting out a hurricane in Tampa, wrecking a rental car in Plant City, dreading the trip over the Sunshine Skway Bridge (which was knocked down by a ship), nightly visits to the greyhound tracks and the jai-alai frontons, lots of tennis in the early morning ... and a whole bunch of for-fun exhibtion baseball games.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Of all the players the Reds traded for or signed as free agents or off the waiver wire, which is most likely to make an immediate positive impact? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: The Reds have signed fringe players in a dizzying flurry, but the one signing that intrigues me is relief pitcher Sean Doolittle. And the Reds hope he does a lot. The bullpen needs help, especially if Michael Lorenzen lands in the starting rotation. If Doolittle can shake all the injury problems he has had the past few years, he can be an asset at the back end of the bullpen.