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Ask Hal: How about Larkin as new manager?

Q: Is it true that next year instead of fans getting pizza when Reds pitchers strike out 11 or more batters that they will receive pizza when the Reds leave 11 or more runners on base? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK.

A: Are you trying to bankrupt LaRosa’s? And that would make fans root against the Reds, although at times I found it disconcerting that as long as the pitchers struck out 11 or more the fans were happy even if the Reds lost. But then sometimes that’s all there was to cheer about.

Q: What’s with all the lopsided scores so far in the playoffs? — BILL, VILLA HILLS, KY.

A: There is no dominating team in baseball, no team with no holes. Every team has holes somewhere and any team now in the playoffs could win it all. Traditionally postseason games are close games but only the Reds had strong starting pitching top to bottom, so they could win it all. Oh, nevermind.

Q: Who will be the starting rotation next year and should Tony Cingrani be one of them? — TOM, KETTERING.

A: If you tell me if the Reds will re-sign Bronson Arroyo I’ll tell you the rotation. Same as last year. If Arroyo isn’t re-signed then Tony Cingrani slides right in. The big question is what the new manager will do with Aroldis Chapman — closer or starter? Dusty Baker won that battle this year and kept him as the closer. Will the new manager be strong enough to make his own decision or will the front office prevail this time and put him in the rotation?

Q: What is the next big piece to the puzzle do the Reds need to kick them up to the next level? — STEVE, ANDERSON TWP.

A: Miguel Cabrera? Mike Trout? Chris Davis? Yadier Molina? Andrew McCutchen? OK, enough of the pipe dreams. It is obvious the team needs a power-hitting right handed bat. The team’s best hitters are left handed so when a guy like Francisco Liriano shows up the season is over.

Q: Who is a free agent or a player the Reds can trade for who has the leadership to help the team? — ANDY, TROY.

A: Predicting trades is fool’s gold. Free agents. Perusing the list, there isn’t much out there to make a difference, especially with leadership. There is one. Hunter Pence. But where would he play? How about Cincinnati native Kevin Youkilis, a down-and-dirty guy who plays with fire and vigor. But are the Reds ready to give up on Todd Frazier. He could be that leadership guy.

Q: You have World Series rings at home and know what it takes to win them, so what has to happen for the Reds to get a ring in 2014? — JAMES, SCOTTSBORO, ALA.

A: The Reds gave rings to the beat writers in 1975 and 1976, but I gave them to my sons, Brian and Brent, when I got my Hall of Fame ring. All it took for me to get them was to cover the team. What it will take for the 2014 Reds is to avoid injuries, play with passion and purpose in every game, don’t make stupid baserunning mistakes, collect some hits with runners in scoring position and get the same great pitching. Sounds easy, huh? Those are the factors staring the new manager in the face.

Q: Why does your best pitcher throw only one inning in the team’s last six games, all losses, and do you think Aroldis Chapman should be a starter? JEFF, MASON.

A: Because a closer only pitches in games in which his team leads in the ninth or at the worst is tied. The Reds never got that close in their last six games so Chapman was a highly paid spectator — and that seat in the bullpen is a choice spot to watch games. No, I don’t think he should be a starter. The Reds have enough starters and Chapman is one of the most intimidating and effective closers in the game.

Q: Is Billy Hamilton ready or will they re-sign Shin-Soo Choo? — CLINT, MONUMENT, COLO.

A: If Hamilton shows he can hit next spring, he might get a shot, out of necessity. Word from Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, is that Choo is worth, “At least $100 million, if not more,” on this winter’s free agent market. Run, Billy, run.

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