Ask Hal: Who is the Reds’ most significant acquisition of offseason?

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: Do you think, long term, that Nick Senzel will develop into a long-term utility player or could he settle into a regular spot this year? — BRIAN, Dayton.

A: As a No. 1 draft pick with every tool in the box, I see Senzel as a long-term starter. He might begin the season platooning in center with Shoto Akiyama. More likely, though, Akiyama will play center and bat leadoff and Senzel could be moved to left field. Nick Castellanos will be in right. That leaves major decisions for the club concerning Phillip Ervin, who is out of options, Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino. Senzel’s only problem is his propensity for injuries. He already has had enough to educate a medical student.

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Q: Who is the most significant acquisition the Reds made in the offseason? — ANGELO, Oviedo, Fla.

A: That, of course, remains to be seen. Both Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas should add much needed offense to a team that couldn’t score enough runs and/or get enough hits with runners in scoring position last year. And the Reds have desperately needed a leadoff hitter than can get on base and Shogo Akiyama could be that guy. So, take your pick. To me, it is any of the three or all three.

Q: In the old days, a team had a manager and four coaches, but now teams have as many as a dozen coaches, so what have all these coaches done to improve the game other than babysitting millionaires? — MESA BILL, West Milton.

A: While all those coaches can be on the field for batting practice, not all are permitted in the dugout/bullpen for games. It used to be a team had two base coaches, a pitching coach and a hitting coach. As teams started loading up with coaches, assistant coaches and assistants to the assistant coaches, MLB decreed that only six coaches and the manager could be in uniforms for games. Some are dedicated to analytics and some are mental advisors. And I believe some fetch coffee for the manager. Two heads might be better than one, but a dozen has to be information overload.

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Q: At viewing baseball at many levels, do you think the dreaded disease of velcroitis begins after Little League? — JON, Sidney.

A: Remember the days when batters hit barehanded? Then they began using glove gloves and that progressed to sporting goods companies manufacturing baseball batting gloves that snapped on. That evolved to Velcro, enabling players to yank them open and tighten them after every pitch. Sean Casey turned it into a ritual. If baseball wants to further speed up the game it should ban batting gloves. Pine tar on skin works just as well as pine tar on gloves.

Q: Why is it that MLB makes the All-Star selections at the halfway point rather than at he end f the season? — BILLY, Greenville.

A: The All-Star selections are made to put together rosters for the All-Star game, which is played at mid-season. They can’t have an All-Star game at the end of the season due to the playoff/World Series, which already takes the season into November when snow flurries fly during some games. The All-Stars aren’t necessarily all the best players because every team has to be represented with at least one player. The best ‘team’ come after the season when they pick all-league teams and not every team has to be represented.

Q: Jose Garcia looks pretty good, so does he have a shot at making the final roster? — RICHARD, Clayton.

A: Indeed, Garcia started fast in the early exhibition games and hit two home runs in one game. That’s a very small sample. Garcia is a top prospect and Barry Larkin calls him the team’s shortstop of the future. The future, though, isn’t now. Garcia, a defensive dandy, has only played at Class A so far. As Orson Welles once said about Paul Masson wine, “We will sell no wine before its time.” It is not yet Garcia’s time.

Q: Is this the year the Reds become a contender and should I subscribe to MLB-TV? — TIM, Berrien Springs, Mich.

A: This is the year the Reds SHOULD become a contender, but as former pitcher Joaquin Andujar once said, “I say it in one word, youneverknow.” That’s why they play the games, but optimism in Redsland in is as high as a giraffe’s eye. And if you love baseball, MLB-TV is the way to go because you can watch any and all MLB games.

Q: Why do they want to speed up the games because when I go I want to get my money’s worth? — JOHN, Dayton.

A: That’s because you are a true fan and true fans don’t care how long a game is, as long as it’s a good game and the home nine wins. It’s the younger generation with short attention spans that concern MLB because it needs young blood to be future fans. It makes me laugh because no matter what MLB does to speed up games they still last three hours or longer.

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