Reds starter Luis Castillo pitches against the Astros on Monday, June 17, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Ask Hal: Who is the one player the Cincinnati Reds should not trade as deadline approaches?

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: Did the recent Reds series against the St. Louis Cardinals bring back great memories of a young No. 19 spraying hits all over the ballpark? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: That’s a thinly-veiled knock on Joey Votto, isn’t it? The No. 19 you are talking about is St. Louis rookie Tommy Edman. Yes, he was a major pain in the batter’s box to the Reds during that series. Votto, though, has come to his senses. Just recently he came out of that peek-a-boo crouch and quit choking up on the bat. Suddenly he is hitting the ball with the old Joey Votto consistency. My question: What took him so long?

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Q: I realize Luis Castillo could probably be traded for prospects, but shouldn’t the Reds keep him and build their rotation around him? — Glenn, Siesta Key, Fla.

A: Whomever told you that the Reds probably will trade Castillo is spending too much time under the sun on Siesta Beach. If there is an untouchable, Castillo is as Untouchable as Eliot Ness. He already is one of the best pitchers in the game, he is cheap, and the Reds have him under control until 2023. If they do trade him, the entire front office should be demoted to run the Greeneville (Tenn.) rookie league team.

Q: Isn’t Yasiel Puig’s personality infecting the Reds the same way it did the Los Angeles Dodgers and shouldn’t the Reds get rid of him? — BOB, Sarasota, Fla.

A: Actually, Puig’s belligerent personality enrages the opposition, not his teammates. He is well-liked in the Cincinnati clubhouse. The Dodgers traded him because they had an overcrowded outfield and it didn’t sit well with Puig’s competitiveness to be platooned. That being said, the Reds probably will trade him because they can’t afford what he probably will get in free agency after the season. And as you know, the Reds’ outfield is getting overly crowded, too.

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Q: If baseball really wants to shorten games, why not reduce it to two strikes for an out and three balls for a walk? — CARL, Kettering.

A: Way too drastic, Carl. What is more exciting than a 3-and-2 count with the game on the line. A 2-and-1 count doesn’t have the same ring. Baseball has made enough absurd changes to make the game nearly unrecognizable. Speed it up? Put in the 20-second pitch count. Make batters stay in the box and outlaw adjusting batting gloves on every pitch. No more visits to the mound, none, unless it is to make a pitching change. No throwing the ball around the infield after an out with nobody on. They don’t throw it around with runners on base, so why with no runners on base. See? I’ve saved about 45 minutes for each game.

Q: Who provides the visiting bat boys and are home bat boys local kids or family members? — JIM, Dayton.

A: It varies. Some teams bring their own bat boys, usually a son of a player or the front office. If not, the home team furnishes the bat boy. Those are kids usually chosen by Reds clubhouse manager Rick Stowe. They can be friends of Rick, or sons of players or a local kid who is picked via a contest or application. They have to pay attention. When the Reds were in Milwaukee the bat boy was dancing in the dugout with the team after a home run and forgot to retrieve a bat. I’m waiting for Eugenio Suarez to break a bat and have the bat boy hand him one he made himself and say, “Use this one.” Well, it happened in The Natural.

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Q: What has happened to the Reds farm system, which has zero prospects which makes the team buy or trade for players? — JON, Dayton.

A: Nothing has happened. Cincinnati’s minor league teams have been bad up and down the system for years. Seldom do any finish above .500. But it is a bit harsh to say there are no prospects. There are many, including Taylor Trammell, Jonathan India, Hunter Greene and many more. Winning in the minors is not important. Developing players is. I just wish the Reds would put some good teams in Dayton. The Dragons sell out every game and get nothing but teams finishing at the bottom of the standings. Heater can only do so much entertaining. Mix in some wins.

Q: Do you know how Billy Hamilton is doing because I miss him? — JUDY, Centerville.

A: Billy Hamilton has changed uniforms but nothing else has changed. He plays for Kansas City but still can’t hit and can’t get on base. But he still covers center field like a gazelle running from a lion. He is batting .217 with a .271 on base average and still can’t bunt. And the Royals are batting him eighth. Nick Senzel, his replacement in Cincinnati, can do so much more. Billyball just never materialized.

Q: I’d like to see Michael Lorenzen go into the starting rotation and do you think he could go six innings? — REBECCA, Trenton.

A: The Reds are solid in the rotation. The bullpen, though, is unraveling and Lorenzen is need there. To become a starter he would have to be stretched out and that takes time. Right now he is programmed to pitch one or two innings and go as hard as he can. Lorenzen wants to start and wants to play more as a pinch-hitter and an outfield. Like crying, there is no getting what you want in baseball.

Q: Do you think it is appropriate that the Reds flagship radio station is WLW? — BOB, Washington, Twp.

A: I get it. W for win and L or loss. But, no, it is inappropriate because that would mean two wins and a loss every three games. The call letters, to fit the team, would be more like WLLL, a win and three losses. And their television cable station should be 90 because they’ve lost 90 or more games four years in a row and are on pace to do it again.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: I’d like to see Michael Lorenzen go into the starting rotation and do you think he could go six innings? — REBECCA, Trenton.

A: The Reds are solid in the rotation. The bullpen, though, is unraveling and Lorenzen is need there. To become a starter he would have to be stretched out and that takes time. Right now he is programmed to pitch one or two innings and go as hard as he can. Lorenzen wants to start and wants to play more as a pinch-hitter and an outfield. Like crying, there is no getting what you want in baseball.

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