Ask Hal: Like it or not, Baker’s job safe

Hall-of-fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about America’s pastime. If you’d like to tap into that knowledge, send a question to

Q: Where is Scott Rolen when you need him? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK

A: He is home in Jasper, Ind., enjoying retirement and his family. Yes, the Cincinnati Reds could use his leadership skills and calming influence, but nobody plays forever. And Rolen was smart enough to know when it was time to get out. His back problems were not getting better and it is necessary to bend over to field ground balls.

Q: After being eliminated from the playoff picture, should the Reds make a move in the management department? — MARK, CINCINNATI

A: The Reds won’t be eliminated, thanks to the second wild card. And there is still hope. They have seven games remaining with St. Louis and could still take the No. 1 wild card and be the home team for the one-game play-in. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy. And if you are referring to Dusty Baker as the “management department,” Baker’s job is safe for another year.

Q: Do you think doping in baseball has critically hurt baseball’s statistics and who is really the home run king, Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds? — BOB, PETERBOROUGH, ENGLAND

A: Just as I’m sure doping has hurt statistics in English soccer, I’m sure it has messed up baseball statistics, especially home runs. And who is the home run king in my book? Barry who?

Q: With all the trouble the Reds are having at the plate, do you think it is time to make a change at hitting coach? — JEFF, RUSSELS POINT

A: A lot is made about the team’s “approach” to hitting. Do you realize the Reds lead the league in walks? They are fourth in runs and fourth in RBIs. OK, so they are 15th (next to last) in runners left on base. Wonder how those runners got on base? Brook Jacoby is the hardest-working hitting coach I’ve ever seen. If he isn’t watching video he is with players in the under-the-stands batting cages. The teacher can teach, but the pupil must perform.

Q: How do you rate Walt Jocketty’s trading skills, because while he has traded for Mat Latos, Shin-Soo Choo (for one year), J.J. Hoover, Jack Hannahan and Sean Marshall, they have given up Edwin Encarnacion, Travis Wood, Didi Gregorius and a slew of minor league players? — CHARLES, DAYTON

A: And who did they get in those trades? For Encarnacion they received Scott Rolen. For Wood they received Sean Marshall. Gregorius was part of the Shin-Soo Choo trade. To get Hoover he traded Juan Francisco. You always have to look at both sides of trades. Even though Jocketty was unable to made a deal before the trade deadline, there is no reason to throw him under the team bus.

Q: What was your favorite Dave Parker moment? — JOSHUA, CINCINNATI

A: That was sad news to hear of Parker coming down with Parkinson’s disease. Parker was a complete players, a five-tool guy who could do it all — run, hit with power, hit for average, throw, everything. His best times were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he had four productive seasons with the Reds and many great on-the-field moments. He was asked one day about MLB using aluminum bats and he said, “I’m against it. I’d miss too much time on the field visiting pitchers in the hospital.”

Q: With all the players with PED issues, contract disputes and paternity suits, isn’t it great to see players like Corky Miller and Shin-Soo Choo show what is right about the national pastime? — CRAIG, FORT LORAMIE

A: While you have named two stellar examples, there are many, many, more just like them. In fact, the vast majority of players are like them. Unfortunately, it is the rotten eggs that draw the attention due to the smell. The good stories are out there, but it is the A-Fraud types we hear too much about.

Q: Do you think it is time for scouts and general managers to recruit only American players because to have 12 out of 13 players suspended for PEDs come from Latin American countries is a disgrace? — JANET, CENTERVILLE

A: First, they don’t recruit American players, they draft them and a player can only sign with the team that drafts them. Secondly, did you notice no Asian players were caught? There are 750 players on the 25-man rosters of the 30 major-league teams. Approximately 200 are Latinos, a little more than one-quarter. So why smear an entire culture for what 12 guys did? Yes, it is unfortunate that 12 Latinos were suspended, but let’s give credit to the 188 who are doing it right.

Q: What is it going to take for one of the Reds stars to call a closed-door, players-only meeting like Joe Morgan once did? — JOHN, CINCINNATI

A: Who on this team is going to call it? And if they do, who is going to speak? There is no vociferous leader on this team. Joey Votto is the team’s face, but he leads by example on the field and basically is an introvert. While he is a great player, Brandon Phillips is more attuned to the fans, via Twitter, than he is to being outspoken with his peers. Manager Dusty Baker had a clubhouse meeting during the St. Louis series and the Reds rebounded to take two straight from a very good Oakland team. Meetings sound good, but we all know how most meetings go in the corporate world — much ado about nothing.

Q: Do you still think Pete Rose has not changed enough to be re-instated for the purpose of getting considered for the Hall of Fame, including posthumously? — JOHN, FORT HOOD, TEX.

A: Has Shoeless Joe Jackson been re-instated? Nope. Rose accepted a lifetime ban when he finally admitted to betting on baseball. What fans don’t understand is that even if Rose is re-instated, there is no guaranteed walk to Cooperstown. His 15 years of eligibility on the baseball writers’ ballot is gone. They can’t vote for him. He would have to be inducted by the Veterans Committee and that isn’t likely. But that is all immaterial. He has to be re-instated and that isn’t going to happen, even posthumously.

Q: Who will be playing in the 2013 World Series? — JOE, BEAVERCREEK

A: It won’t be Houston against Miami. That is about the only for-sure. I picked Los Angeles against Los Angeles and I still might be right on the Dodgers side. The Angels? Not likely. Actually, that’s an impossible question. I can’t even tell you who will be in the NLCS and the ALCS. Detroit and the Dodgers look like the best teams in each league right now, but unexpected teams get hot during the postseason and anything can happen. How’s that for a copout cliché?

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