Ask Hal: Any chance struggling Reds trade Votto?

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: Have you ever wanted to be able to spit as macho and as effortlessly as some of the baseball players? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: I’ve never had the urge to expectorate publicly, chew tobacco publicly, let my hair grown below my shoulders or wear a gold necklace the size of a sunflower. But, yes, I have wondered what it would be like to get one of Max Scherzer’s two-week check. I once asked Ken Griffey Jr. to see his check when the traveling secretary handed it to him. He smiles, tucked it into his jacket and said, “Would you really know what to do with it?” I’d love to try.

Q: Is there any chance they would move Joey Votto because the poor guy does not deserve this train wreck to end his career? — JAY, Cincinnati.

A: With his dismal start, Votto sits right in the engineer’s seat of this train wreck. He is a historically slow starter, but never this slow. And I believe him when he says he wants to finish his career in Cincinnati. Why? I really don’t believe that he is a masochist.

Q: Since you’ve been covering the Reds, have they ever only won as few as three or games before May 1? — KEN, Kettering.

A: Some bad news. I’ve covered the team since 1973 and the worst team in club history won 10 in April. The 1982 team that lost 101 games was 10-12 in April. The 2018 team that lost 95 games was 7-22 and the 2015 team that lost 98 was 11-11. Before my time (barely), the 1931 team was 1-9 in April, but the season didn’t start until April 14. On May 12 they were 2-17 on their way to 98 losses in a 154-game schedule. And somebody asked the fans, “Where ya gonna go?”

Q: How much of Joey Votto’s struggles at have to do with no good hitters like Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos batting in front of him and behind him? — JIM, Englewood.

A: Most likely it is a major contributor. He is like a U.S. President walking the streets without secret service agents. No protection. Pitchers don’t have to feed him hittable strikes. They can walk him and fear no repercussions. And he is taking walks. But he also is his own worst enemy and is swinging at pitches out of the zone, something he has never done. Last Sunday in Colorado he ended the game by swinging at a pitch that bounced in the dirt. And he is overswinging because of his desire to hit the ball hard. Result? Lots of pop-ups and weak ground balls. And Votto-matic is now K-matic.

Q: The Reds designated for assignment The Punisher, Aristides Aquino, l and I remember a couple of other One-Hit-Wonders like Scooter Gennett and Derek Diertrich, so do you remember others? — JERRY, Lebanon.

A: There has never been a flash bang like Aquino. In August of 2019 he hit 14 homers, seven in 10 games and three in consecutive innings against the Chicago Cubs. Then it all went away like the morning dew. In four years, he batted .205 with only 18 more homers and 177 strikeouts in 468 at bats. This year he was 2 for 41 (.049) with 23 strikeouts. You are a bit harsh on Gennett, the man who hit four homers in one game. He had back-to-back solid seasons for the Reds, .295 in 2017 and .310 in 2018 before injuries did him in. Dietrich? He never produced much other than a few timely pinch-hits. He wasn’t even a One-Year Wonder. His one season with the Reds (2019) produced a slash line of .187/.328/.462.

Q: Do you think the Reds will win 50 games this season? — CHAD, Clayton.

A: Oh, it is possible they might not win 50. It happens more often that many might realize. Most everybody knows the modern record is the 1962 expansion New York Mets (40-120) How about the 43-119 Detroit Tigers of 2003? How about the 47-115 Baltimore Orioles of 2018? If you’re bad, you might as well be really bad. Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about the ‘62 Mets entitled, ‘Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?’ I won’t be writing a book about the ‘22 Reds.

Q: What are your thoughts on every team being represented at the All-Star Game and who will be the Reds representative this year? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: I believe fans want to see the best players, regardless of what team they represent. Making if mandatory that every team has at least one player is ludicrous. Maybe the host team should always have at least one All-Star. The Reds? You tell me who is an All-Star. Nobody. There is time for somebody to put up some good numbers, but much as I hate to say it, there is no All-Star on the Cincinnati Reds.

Q: Do you think there is a pitcher on the Reds who can even approach 10 wins this season? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: It certainly isn’t looking good. At this early point, Reds starters are 3-17 and not one has more than one win and the starting staff has an earned run average north of er than the next worst staff in MLB. Maybe Luis Castillo can go on a run when he returns, but with the current Reds offense Cy Young couldn’t win 10 games. In 1972, Steve Carlton won 27 games for the last place Philadelphia Phillies, which was nearly half of the team’s 59 wins. There is no Steve Carlton on the Reds’ staff.

Q: Luis Cessa is wearing number 85, Art Warren is number 77 and Connor Overton is number 71, so with the Reds merry go round of roster changes do you think there will ever be a player with a 3-digit uniform? —Greg, Beavercreek.

A: No chance. There are plenty of numbers remaining in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s. And players come and go so much that when Warren or Cessa or Overton is gone, another players will inherit their numbers. I do wonder about the New York Yankees. They have retired 22 numbers, including every number from ‘1′ through ‘10.’ They just retired Paul O’Neil’s number 21. In the year 2050, if MLB survives, the Yankees might be retiring number 107.

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