Hal McCoy: New manager won’t solve Reds’ roster issues

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: Which of the big four pro sports commissioners, if any, deserves their yearly humongous salary? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: A sports commissioner’s job is nothing but high stress and everything that happens in his league falls in his lap. He is the final authority on everything. How much is that stress worth? Well, the NFL believes Roger Goodell is worth $30 million. MLB believes Rob Manfred is worth $20 million. The NBA believes Adam Silver is worth $10 million and the NHL believes Gary Bettman is worth $10 million. The vast majority of players in those sports make less money than the commissioners. Well, doesn’t the boss nearly always make the most money?

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Q: With the season over, will the Reds focus on how their pitching is put together in their organization or will they focus on getting a manager with the belief that will solve the problems? — JAY, Englewood.

A: The baseball season is far from over, but it is over for the Reds. The team should be focused on a number of things. Naming a new manager is NOT going to solve anything. Jim Riggleman was not the problem. The problem was the roster, especially the starting pitchers. So, yes they are focused on a new manager, but it can’t be a narrow focus. Another would be figuring out why good pitching prospects, who do well in the minors, can’t come up to the majors and replicate what they did in the minors, even though the step from Class AAA to the majors is a giant step.

Q: If the Reds are in a shift and only third baseman Eugenio Suarez is on the left side, but he is playing where the shortstop normally plays, how is it scored if a ground ball is hit to him and he throws out the runner? — AL, Cincinnati.

A: All players are assigned a defensive number, so no matter where he is standing when he fields the ball, like Suarez standing at shortstop, he is still a third baseman and the out is recorded as a 5-3. And it is the same when teams place the third baseman in short right field. If he throws out a runner from short right field, it still goes in the scorebook as a 5-3. But I always ad an asterisk and make a notation that the ball was hit into short right field.

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Q: Who makes the decision as to whether an errant pitch is a wild pitch on the pitcher or a passed ball on the catcher? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: There is an official scorer at every game and they sit in the press box. It is their job to make all scoring decisions — wild pitch or passed ball, hit or an error. The general rule is that if a ball hits the dirt in front of the catcher or goes past the catcher without it being touched, it is a wild pitch. If the ball doesn’t hit the ground and glances off the catcher’s glove it is a passed ball. Pitchers hate that, even though most passed balls occur when a catcher is crossed up by the pitcher, meaning he calls for a fast ball and the pitcher crosses him up and throws a breaking pitch.

Q: If you were the general manager of a rebuilding team and were told you could hire an expensive big-name manager or an expensive big-name pitching coach, which would you choose? — BRIAN, Bellbrook.

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A: I would definitely hire the manager. He is the man in charge of everything in the clubhouse and on the field. A pitching coach is only in charge of the pitchers and he answers to the manager. And in most cases, when a team hires an experienced manager that manager is permitted to pick his own pitching coach, as well as all the other coaches. Most people disagree with me, but in the case of the Cincinnati Reds I would have kept Jim Riggleman and let him name Ted Power as pitching coach, instead of sticking him in the bullpen as assistant pitching coach. Every pitcher who comes in contact with Power praises him. Power worked with most of the young pitchers when he was a minor league pitching coach and those pitchers experienced success.

Q: Didn’t the 2000 Cincinnati Reds go the entire season without getting shut out? — BENSON, Atlanta.

A: Ya got me. Error McCoy. In last week’s column I said the 1932 New York Yankees were the only team in major league history to go an entire season without getting shut out. Wrong. The 2000 Reds did do it and I covered that team and should have remembered it. Maybe it was because those Reds only won 85 games in a 162-game schedule and finished second, 10 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central. The ’32 Yankees won 107 games in a 154-game schedule and finished first, 13 games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Athletics. I am comfortable in saying those are the only two teams not to get shut out in a season.

Q: Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz revived his career when he went from starter to closer for the Atlanta Braves, so how about the Reds giving Homer Bailey a shot as closer and they can trade Raisel Iglesias for something good? — JOE, Centerville.

A: Like Bailey, Smoltz underwent Tommy John Surgery and became a shut down closer, 154 saves in his career. Unfortunately, the Reds wanted to put Bailey in the bullpen but he fought it, said he couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it. But if that’s what the Reds want, all they have to do is say, “Grab a seat in the bullpen. That’s your new job.” And since they have to pay him $23 million next year they should start with him in the bullpen from Day One in spring training, whether he likes it or not. His contract doesn’t give him say on how he is used, that’s the team’s prerogative.

Q: The Chicago Cubs invested heavily this year in free agent pitchers Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish and the results were horrific, so is it realistic to believe the Reds will pursue a high-priced free agent pitcher? — TOM, Miamisburg.

A: It is a risk teams take and look what happened to the Cubs this year. Some turn out, some don’t. To me, giving pitchers a long-term contract is the ultimate risk. They are always one pitch away from a career-ending injury. But the market demands it and we all know the Reds need pitching, and they need more than one. Will they take the risk? Only they know and let’s see how it plays out. With the Reds, one misstep can ruin the entire season.


Q: During a baseball strike in 1995, teams used replacement players during spring training, so do you have any good stories about the Reds’ replacement players? — RON, Vandalia.

A: Manager Davey Johnson hated the replacement players concept so during exhibition games he turned his folding chair away from the field, facing the grandstands, and talked to his wife. General manager Jim Bowden made a big deal out of a press conference to announce the signing of a special player — 50-year-old Pedro Borbon, who pitched in relief for The Big Red Machine, but in 1995 he was portly and out of shape, a perfect specimen as a replacement player. The Reds also signed pitcher Rick Reed, who was living out of his car and needed the money. But he was so good that when the strike ended the Reds signed him for the real team. And he did well, although he was deeply resented by the players for being what they called a ‘scab,’ a strikebreaker.

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