A: Unfortunately, my friend, it will be a long dry spell. David Concepcion should be next, but he won’t make it, which is a travesty. The next candidate is still playing and will be until he is 41. That would be Joey Votto, whose current numbers and accomplishments are Hall stuff. He has diminished the last couple of years and it is doubtful his future years will tarnish his candidacy.
Q: Can you see Michael Lorenzen as an every day outfielder because using him as a relief pitcher seems to be a waste of this young man’s talent? — STEVE, Vandalia.
A: There is no doubt that Lorenzen is the team’s best defensive outfielder. And, yes, I can see him as an every day outfielder. But with the Reds, it is a matter of need. They need relief pitching more than they need outfielders and Lorenzen was the team’s best relief pitcher this year. Manager David Bell used him the right way, a defensive replacement in the outfield and a pinch-hitter. Lorenzen really wants to be a starting pitcher and he might get a shot at the No. 5 spot next spring if the Reds don’t find somebody else.
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Q: I know the Reds have several options for shortstop next year, but what are the chances that they re-sign Jose Iglesias? — KEITH, Kettering.
A: I’m with you. I believe they should try to sign him to a long-term deal. He is a magician defensively and he was the team’s best clutch hitter on a team with no other clutch hitters. But he is a free agent and with what he did this season he probably will test the market. He will draw considerable interest and probably get a hefty contract. My guess is that he is gone and Freddy Galvis is next year’s shortstop.
Q: Did the Reds set an all-time record for one-run losses? — MIKE, Middletown.
A: Not even close. The Reds lost 33 one-run game this season, 11 shy of the 1968 Chicago White Sox. Of their 44 losses, the White Sox dropped nine 1-0 games and 10 2-1 games. Amazingly, the Reds were 15-9 in one-run games at home, but 9-24 on the road. On the flip side, the record for one-run wins is 40. The 1970 Baltimore Orioles were 40-15 in one-run decisions during a 108-win season. And they won two one-run games in the ’70 World Series against the Reds, thanks to the defensive wizardry of third baseman Brooks Robinson. He probably had a glove hand in many of those 40 one-run victories.
Q: Is there a special limit that pitchers have to make in speed of their pitches to make the major leagues? — ELAINE, Brookville.
A: Not really, but these days if a pitcher doesn’t throw at least 92 or 93 miles an hour he isn’t drafted. Pitchers keep throwing harder and harder. Reds broadcaster and former pitcher Chris Welsh said that when he pitched in the 1980s if they heard a pitcher was throwing 95 in spring training everybody ran to the field to watch him. It is sad because using current methodology pitchers like Tom Browning, Freddy Norman and Randy Jones wouldn’t be given a chance because they barely broke 85 miles an hour.
Q: Should the Reds hire Clint Hurdle to be David Bell’s personal attitude coach to teach him how to show emotion? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: Does Bell need lessons on showing emotion? Ask the umpires. Bell was ejected seven times in his first 96 games for demonstrative disagreements with umpires. But yes, he is low-key in dealing with players, at least publicly. While most Reds fans despise Clint Hurdle, I love the guy. He is an outstanding baseball man and a nice man, off the field. The Reds could do worse in hiring a coach. If nothing else, he could teach the Reds’ pitchers how to throw behind hitters or over their heads.
Q: What is your best foul ball into the press box story? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: I have two. During the 1996 World Series in New York, Derek Jeter fouled one right into my hands. Yes, I caught it. I still have the ball but I stupidly did not get him to sign it. When Jim Edmonds played for the Reds, he fouled one right at me. Fortunately, I had my head down looking at my computer screen. I felt the ball part my hair and it left a large crater in the wall behind me. I might have been the first baseball writer to suffer a concussion while covering a game.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Is this six-year period of losing seasons by the Cincinnati Reds the team’s longest in the last 100 years? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: You haven’t been paying close attention. You don’t have to go back 100 years. You only have to go back one decade. The Reds had nine straight losing seasons from 2001 to 2009. The closest they came to .500 was in 2006 when they were 80-82. Manager Jack McKeon was 85-77 in 2000 and was fired. He predicted dire things ahead and the dire things lasted nine years. And they have returned.