Ask Hal: When will we see former first-round pick Hunter Greene with the Reds?

Hunter Greene, right, a pitcher and shortstop from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., talks to commissioner Rob Manfred after being selected No. 2 by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Secaucus, N.J.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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: With so many Hall of Famers having recently passed in such a short period of time does commissioner Rob Manfred have the authority to lower the flags at half staff inside the stadium during the World Series? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Don’t see why not? Manfred seems to be able to do what he wants. Seems like a great idea and perhaps they should show photographs of all those legends who have left us on the scoreboards during pre-game ceremonies. A great pitching rotation passed away in 2020 — Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Mike McCormick, Don Larsen.

Q: We didn’t see pitcher Hunter Greene this year and when will we see him with the Reds? — DAVE, Springfield.

A: There are two reasons you didn’t see him. First, he was still recovering from Tommy John surgery and second was the pandemic that canceled all minor league seasons. Greene was unable to gain more minor league experience, although he worked out at the Reds alternate camp in Mason. The guess is that he’ll start at Triple-A next season and he will appear in Cincinnati before next season ends. That, though, is a wild, optimistic guess.

Q: The Reds have three good catchers in Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali and Tyler Stephenson, so how do you see this playing out next season? — STEVE, Brookville.

A: If I’m the Reds, I explore the trade market for Barnhart, even though he is an outstanding defensive catcher. Pitchers seem to like pitching to Casali, especially Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer. And it is Stephenson’s time. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t on the postseason roster because he has the best bat of the three. What the Reds needed most was a live bat instead of all that dead wood they sent to the plate against Atlanta.

Q: Do the Cincinnati Reds or players who do not speak English pay translators to discuss instructions during practice or games? — SETH, Middletown.

A: All teams now hire translators and pay them. They are on call at all times at the ballpark and serve as translators during media interviews. I often wish I spoke Spanish. Latin players often give long answers and the translator gives a short answer as in, “He says he felt good.”

Q: Do you think the Reds will sign Trevor Bauer? — ROBERT, Dayton.

A: I have a better chance of winning the lottery twice in one day. Bauer is rampant on Twitter praising other teams, planting seeds about his availability. The Reds will make an $18.5 million qualifying offer to make certain they get a draft pick from the team that signs Bauer. He will refuse the qualifying offer and take his strut and stare to the highest bidder.

Q: Aside from the big trade that brought Joe Morgan to the Reds, what has been the most impactful trade during your time? — JON, Washington, MO.

A: That’s an easy one for me — two trades made 17 days apart in 2006 by then general manager Wayne Krivsky. First, on March 20, he traded outfielder Wily Mo Pena to the Red Sox for pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Pena was what they called a 5 o’clock hitter. He was awesome in batting practice, not much at game time. And he never made an impact in Boston. On April 7, Krivsky acquired second baseman Brandon Phillips from Cleveland for minor-league pitcher Jeff Stevens, who never appeared for the Indians. He appeared 33 times between 2009-11 for the Chicago Cubs and was 1-0 with a 6.27 earned run average and was finished. And one day after the Arroyo trade, Krivsky trade minor league pitcher Bobby Basham to San Diego for catcher David Ross. That’s three trades Krivsky made that brought impactful players to the Reds for practically nothing. Just 21 games into the 2008 season Krivsky was unceremoniously fired.

Q: What do the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics do differently than other smaller market teams to stay relevant every year? — RON, Vandalia.

A: They draft well and develop well. And they fill the gaps with wise trades and low-priced free agents. When their best players become too expensive they let them go and start the process all over again. Of course, a lot of luck is involved. Both teams seemed blessed with a lot of four-leaf clovers.

Q: It seems as if great closers can all of a sudden become very hittable and why is that? — DICK, Henderson, Tenn.

A: Don’t tell Mariano Rivera that. Of course, he is the exception. It does seem to happen. Hitters become familiar with their stuff, closers are always in high-tension situations that take a toll and managers seem to overuse them. So there is wear-and-tear on the arm and shoulder, there is age and closers always seem to be one pitch away from disaster, which has a mental affect. And, to be truthful, I believe in most cases the closer is an unnecessary evil because managers use them no matter what, regardless of the situation, regardless of the match-ups and regardless of the closer’s recent performances.

Q: What would the Hall of Famers who passed away this year — Joe Morgan, Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford — say about baseball’s rule changes? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Can’t speak for them, but I had interaction with all of them except Ford. I am certain they all would say, “What are they doing to our great game?” Gibson, Seaver and Ford would laugh at the three-batter rule for relief pitchers because they seldom needed a relief pitcher. Brock and Morgan would shake their heads over the rules about breaking up double plays and bowling over catchers. They might refer to today’s game as baselessball.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Now that the Reds are looking for a new director of baseball operations do you feel there will be a new approach? — SCOTT, Syracuse, N.Y.

A; Nearly all 30 MLB teams use the same approach these days — analytics. So it won’t matter much whether the Reds hire from within or without the approach isn’t going to change. It will be a guy with a trusty computer and a staff familiar with algorithms. MLB teams are great at adopting what’s popular and thinking outside the box is rare.

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