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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: With rumors of Scooter Gennett being traded, are Reds fan caught in a Catch-22 of cheering for a player to do well which leads to a trade for prospects? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Cheering or not cheering for a player has nothing to do with whether he is traded. With the Reds using their No. 1 draft pick for an infielder in two of the last three years, the infield is getting very crowded. They signed third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year and they drafted third baseman Nick Senzel and third baseman Jonathan India. And they’ve talked about Jose Peraza as their long-term shortstop. Over the past year-and-a-half Scooter Gennett has been one of the game’s best hitters and he is only 27. I wouldn’t trade him. I’d sign him long-term. But what do I know? Maybe a team needs three third basemen. There were some good pitchers available when the Reds picked India this year.
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Q: If the Reds trade Scooter Gennett before the trade deadline rather than sign him to a long-term contract why would long-time fan like me have any faith that the Reds are trying to win? — RON, Vandalia.
A: In case you haven’t noticed, the Reds haven’t really tried to win for at least three years during this Rebuild Era. By selecting infielders No. 1 in two of the last drafts the Reds are saying they probably aren’t interested in signing Scooter long term. With his production the last year-and-a-half he will command big numbers, big numbers the Reds probably don’t want to pay. Did you lose faith when they traded Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, then let Zack Cozart go? Oh ye of little faith. But yes, it is tough not to be a Scooter Rooter.
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Q: Maybe Homer Bailey should check with John Smoltz to see how he went from starter to the bullpen? — JERRY, Dayton.
A: Bailey was being deadly honest when he said he didn’t think he could pitch out of the bullpen. He has never done it, it takes him a long time to warm up and he has trouble in the early innings, all bad things for a relief pitcher. Maybe Smoltz can teach him how to play golf after Smoltz qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. Smoltz went from starter to closer to the Hall of Fame. He was a special breed on the mound. The Reds are frantically seeking answers to the Bailey dilemma and right now it is the disabled list with a bad knee (nod, nod, wink, wink).
Q: Manager Jim Riggleman benches Jesse Winker and is playing Billy Hamilton with Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler in the outfield, so why has he changed from the four-man rotation? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: Not one of those outfielders is having a productive season and Riggleman is trying to get some consistency, which is tough for a player to do when he sits every third or fourth game. Winker’s No. 1 asset was supposed to be his bat, but he is hitting .244 with one homer and 13 RBI. His defense always has been suspect, but he has been particularly below average this season. He has to hit to play. Of course, he isn’t a One-Man Theme with his poor production. All four are guilty. And Riggleman hasn’t benched Winker. He is still in there at times. The poor skipper is just trying to do something, anything, to put together a productive outfield.
Q: It seems to me that in the 1960s a batter was not charged with an at-bat when he reached on an error so is my memory correct and if so when did they change it? — BILL, Huber Heights.
A: Your memory is a bit clogged. An error has always been counted as a time at bat, with no credit for a hit. In addition, if a run scores on an error the batters does not get credit for a run batted in. It is downright prejudicial against the hitter. If a batter hits a fly ball to the outfield and a runner scores after the catch, the batter is not charged with a time at bat, but he gets an RBI, even though he made an out. But a guy reaching base via error did not make an out, but he gets a no-hit at bat charged to his name and does not get an RBI. Not only is life not fair, baseball isn’t always fair, either.
Q: In the MLB draft, what is the difference between Compensation Picks and Competitive Balance Picks and did the Reds get any type of pick for losing Zack Cozart? — BOB, Belmont.
A: A compensation pick is awarded a team that loses a player to free agency. But to get that pick the team must offer its player at least a one-year contract for $17 million. The Reds, fearing Cozart would take it, did not offer him a contract after last season, so when he signed as a free agent with the Angels the Reds got nothing, not even a used rosin bag. The Competive Balance Round (A-B) comes after the first two regular rounds. All teams that fell in the bottom 10 in revenue or bottom 10 in market size got a pick in Round A or Round B using a formula that takes revenue and winning percentage into account. Got that? If you do, I’ll try to explain the infield fly rule.
Q: Why are aluminum bats allowed in college and high school ball but wooden bats are used in the minors and majors/ Wouldn’t it make sense for all players above the high school level to use wooden bats since that’s what they are forced to use as a professional? — BILLY, Greenville.
A: I hate the sound of baseball on metal, the ‘ping’ of aluminum bats. Baseball was invented with wooden bats and for years and years that’s all that was used at all levels. But conservationists stepped in. Too many trees died to make baseball bats so the aluminum bat was introduced. Fortunately the pros hung tough and stayed with wood. High school and college players aren’t forced to use wood when/if they turn pro. They are forced to use aluminum in high school and college. And is it really that big of a deal when a minute percentage of high school/college players ever make it to the pros?
Q: Which pitch, a slider, a curveball or a knuckleball do most rookies have trouble hitting the most? — JOE, Kettering.
A: For me it was every pitch any pitcher ever threw. For the rookies, or any major league hitter, it depends on what type of hitter you are. If you are a high-ball hitter, a nasty diving splitter is a mystery. If you are a low-ball hitter, the high-rising fastball is problematical. A knuckleball is a challenge for every hitter but very few pitchers master the pitch. There are no Hoyt Wilhelms or Phil Niekros any more.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: With so many teams shifting players defensively out of position, do you think baseball should institute a rule to keep infielders in place and who was the first Cincinnati Reds player that saw the shift when he batted? TIM, Xenia.
A: The first I saw was Ken Griffey Jr., who didn’t change his approach. He said, “They can’t put a fielder in the right field seats.” I see nothing wrong with the shifts. Why would you legislate against it. Defense is a part of baseball, too, and they don’t tell NFL players or NBA players where they have to stand on defense. If teams overshift it is up to the player to shoot the ball the other way. Wasn’t it Wee Willie Keeler who said, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.” Modern-day players are too stubborn to take advantage of gaping holes. Like Griffey, they are seeking the seats.