Ask Hal: What would it take for the Reds to lure a top-flight starter to tiny Great American Ball Park?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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2018 Cincinnati Reds: 10 things to know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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: With their lowest attendance in 34 years and 94-plus losses the last four years, can it get any worse for the Cincinnati Reds? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Of course it can. They can lose 100 games. The attendance can go even lower, proving that bobbleheads, bark in the park and a jalopy called Redzilla doesn’t fill enough seats. I have seen people on a bobblehead night use their tickets to get in the gate, collect their bobbleheads and leave immediately. And trust me, if the front office doesn’t make major moves this offseason it will get worse.

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Q: What could possibly lure a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher to Great American Smallpark and jeopardize their chances to make the Hall of Fame? — JERRY, Lebanon.

A: The Carew Tower? Fountain Square? A dozen Skyline Chili franchises? Signing a top-level free agent pitcher would be difficult. But if they can trade for one, the pitcher has no choice but to come to Cincinnati, unless he has a no-trade contract. Trading for a big-time pitcher, though, would cost the Reds a ton of talent. They might even have to convince Joey Votto to ignore his no-trade clause, but Votto continues to say he isn’t going anywhere but the batter’s box in GABP.

Q: Who would you like to see as the Reds starting rotation next season? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: How about Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Blake Snell. Hey, you asked whom I would like. Realistically? I have no clue and neither do the Reds. I’d say Luis Castillo, Michael Lorenzen and Sal Romano are front-runners, with Cody Reed, Homer Bailey (yes, Homer Bailey because of his contract) and Anthony DeSclafani as possibilities. This, of course, precludes some mammoth pitching acquisition the Reds might make. Don’t hold your breath.

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Q: After he was shut down, was Homer Bailey at the games, was he in the dugout or bullpen, or was he told to stay away because he might be a distraction or a detriment to the team? — JAMES, Centerville.

A: Fans continue to hate on Bailey just because he makes big money and he lost a whole bunch of games due to three surgeries and a lot of games he could have won if the team had scored a few runs. Not only was Bailey in the clubhouse every day, he was in the dugout during games and he pitched a couple of simulated games. He works with the young pitchers and has been a big influence on Sal Romano. He is neither a detriment nor a distraction. He is a fine human being who cares about the team and is exasperated by his misfortunes even more than the fans.

Q: Who makes the decisions about which players go to winter ball and the instructional league? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: It is mostly the Latinos who play winter ball in their home countries. Most, though, especially pitchers, only play part of the winter season and then rest. It is their choice and management can only suggest that they not play. Most Latinos ignore it and play if they want to play. Their home countries expect it. As for the instructional league, that decision is made by the team’s front office and it always involves young players, mostly minor leaguers. Major League players with five or more years of service have to give their permission and it is usually players recovering from injuries who do it. Me? I’d love a free winter vacation in the Dominican Republic.

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Q: Why would the Reds hire Jim Riggleman as manager for their youth movement when he walked out on the team as manager of the Washington Nationals? — DICK, Centerville.

A: If you are concerned about it, don’t worry. They won’t hire him, through no fault of his own. The team’s poor performance the last month-and-a-half cost him consideration. He did all he could do with abysmal starting pitching and an offense that disappeared. Not his fault, but the manager is always the fall guy. As for walking out on Washington, it was a matter of principles and I admire him for it. The Nationals promised him an extension, but when it came time for it they reneged. He loves managing but walked away from a great job because he was dishonored.

Q: Do you think Matt Harvey would like to stay in Cincinnati and wouldn’t he make a great full-time addition to the rotation? — KEITH, Butler Twp.

A: Depends on what other teams offer and I’m not sure there will be much of a market for him. And I’m not so sure he would make a good addition, let alone a great addition. He was just average in September and the rotation already is full of average. Manager Jim Riggleman constantly said Harvey will be better next season, but I believe he was being politically correct and saying nice things about one of his players. To seriously upgrade the rotation the Reds have to do better than Matt Harvey.

Q: Has any modern era major league team ever gone an entire season without being shut out? — JACK, Centerville.

A: The 1932 New York Yankees were not shut out the entire season, which can be expected when you have Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri and Frankie Crosetti in the batting order. In fact, going back to the 1931 season, the Yankees were not shut out in 308 straight games. Remember when the Reds were shut out three times in five games on their last road trip this year?


Q: Why are baseball ballparks different sizes on the playing field, unlike other sports that have uniform sizes? — Michael, Englewood.

A: Most baseball parks, especially in the old days, were built downtown and had to fit in specific pieces of real estate and the parks had to be built to fit in that space. That’s why dimensions were so different in Fenway Park, the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, Forbes Field and Busch Stadium I. Even today, Great American Ball Park had to be stuffed into a space they call The Wedge and why the playing surface is so small. And even today’s newest parks are built with their own nuances and quirks, which is another reason that makes baseball so interesting. A home run in one park might be a routine fly ball in another and a routine fly ball is a home run in another park. At least the infield dimensions are always the same, 90 feet between each base.

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