Ask Hal: Doubtful Larkin is ready to manage Reds

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. To tap into that knowledge, send an email to

Q: Whom would you root for in Game 7 of the World Series with San Francisco’s Mike Leake and Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto on the mound? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Two of my favorite managers are Ned Yost (Kansas City) and Bruce Bochy (San Francisco). Two of my favorite pitchers/people are Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto. But I don’t have to worry about it. San Francisco isn’t going to make it. If it did happen, I’d root for Leake and Cueto to go eight innings at 0-0 and let the bullpens decide it. Just between us, though, I’d root for the Royals because the Giants have won it too often lately.

Q: Do you see Barry Larkin as the Reds manager next year? — DAN, Charlotte.

A: I don’t, but I don’t make the decision. Owner Bob Castellini loves the Reds tradition, and rightfully so. There could be a managerial change, based mostly on this team’s lack of fundamentals, but I doubt Larkin is ready to manage. He has no experience. Just a guess, but I’d think they would look for an experienced man who is good at working with young players and building a contender.

Q: Do you think the Reds would be willing to keep Jay Bruce and play him against right-handed pitchers only? — GARY, West Carrollton.

A: The numbers say it doesn’t matter. Bruce has struggled against both. He is hitting .240 against right-handers and .239 against left-handers. Does that .001 matter? And believe it or not, against left-handed starters Bruce is hitting .265 and only .232 against right-handed starters. Bruce continues to be baseball’s biggest enigma.

Q: Jason Bourgeois — why? — MARK, Beavercreek.

A: Why what? Why does he have a French name? Why doesn’t he play more? But I know why you are asking. It is because of his two base-running blunders in one game against the Royals. Those things do amaze me. I watch them work on fundamentals in spring training every day, then watch them forget those fundamentals during the regular season. They should have given Bourgeois a rule book and had him memorize the infield fly rule.

Q: Will Tony Perez be the last of The Big Red Machinists honored with a statue? JEFF, Troy.

A: Probably so, although I’m sure they would like to put one up of Peter Edward Rose, probably right next to Pete Rose Way. I don’t see that happening in the near future. All those now in bronze are Hall of Famers, except for the iconic Joe Nuxhall. So they probably are finished with the BRM, with the exception maybe of manager Sparky Anderson.

Q: Do you see the Reds making any off-season deals that will bring in younger and more effective bats? — JAY, Englewood.

A: They better. They don’t have a single position player in Baseball America’s Top 50 prospects. After the trades of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake the Reds are now pitching-rich in the minors. What they need to do is use some of the excess pitching to make trades for young hitting prospects who know the definition of getting hits with runners in scoring position.

Q: Have you ever heard of the bases-loaded pop-up rule? — SONNY, Covington.

A: As a former professional umpire, you know the answer because it happened to you in Class AA. You called the infield fly rule and manager Felipe Alou didn’t know what you were calling. When a rule book was displayed to explain the infield fly rule, he said, “Oh, you mean the bases-loaded pop-up rule.” No, Felipe. No such thing. Can you imagine a man who was regarded as a good manager and a player for 17 years not knowing the infield fly rule? It isn’t hieroglyphics.

Q: We all know Billy Hamilton is the fastest runner in baseball and plays great defense, but considering his terrible batting average and on-base percentage, how do you see his future? — BILL, Greenville.

A: He is young and still learning, much too young and too talented to give up on. They’ll continue to work on his plate discipline (drawing more walks), his bunting and keeping the ball out of the air. They certainly need it all to click because he could become the best leadoff hitter in baseball.

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