Q: What are your thoughts on trading either Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake or Mat Latos before the trade deadline because they are going to want big contracts in the coming years and their value could not be higher? — ROB/North Star.
A: Are you giving up on 2014? And the Reds have control of those three pitchers through 2015, so what’s the rush? Starting pitching is the team’s strong suit and if the Reds want to make the playoffs they need them all. Have you noticed how the Reds are stockpiling pitchers in the minors? By 2016 they’ll have several options.
Q: Did we see the real Reds in San Diego? — JASON/Denver.
A: It is like asking if the glass is half full or half empty? Did we see the real Reds in San Francisco when they won four straight? Or did we see the real Reds in San Diego when they lost three straight? Probably something in between. That’s what makes baseball so great over a 162-game schedule and why betting on the game is ludicrous. Every team has major league players and at any time a team with the worst record can beat a team with the best record. Baseball truly is a day-to-day game and usually you are only as good as the next day’s pitchers on either team.
Q: Do you think Jay Bruce should get some outside help in recognizing curves and sliders, perhaps from Pete Rose? — WORDMAN/Troy.
A: He recognizes them, he just goes through spells where he can’t hit them or swings at them outside the strike zone. But he isn’t by himself. The Reds struck out 29 times in three games in San Diego and it wasn’t all Bruce. Rose? Bruce has talked to him, more than once. But of course, it has to be done surreptitiously because, well, we all know why.
Q: Why do the Reds keep saying Devin Mesoraco can’t play first base when even Roger Bernadina played there? — MARK/Kettering.
A: They haven’t said he can’t play first base. They don’t want him to play first base. And he doesn’t want to play first base. We’re talking about an All-Star type catcher who loves it back there, even when he gets beat to a pulp. Why mess with him at such a young age? I never heard anybody suggesting that Johnny Bench be moved to first base when he was 26.
Q: In your 41 years of covering the Reds, what have they asked your opinion about? — ED/Vandalia.
A: Zip, zilch, nada. I’m there to report on what I see and not be part of the process. They’ve never even asked me what I like to see on the media dining room menu. No GM has ever asked my opinion on anything concerning the team. One manager asked. When Lou Piniella took over he asked me, “What does this team most need?” I told him, “A true leadoff hitter.” Halfway through the season he said, “Hal, you were right.” So I’m retiring at one-for-one.
Q: Why not talk about the first game you ever covered? — MEL/Washington, D.C.
A: Why not? My first game as a beat writer was Opening Day, April 5, 1973, Reds against the San Francisco Giants. It was Don Gullett against Juan Marichal and the Giants won, 3-1. Marichal pitched a complete game seven-hitter and, of course, Pete Rose had two of them. It was 1-1 into the seventh but Giants shortstop Chris Speier, now an employee in the Reds front office, had a two-run single. The Reds’ only run came on Gullett’s sacrifice fly. Me? I was a very nervous rookie and I may have even got the score right in my story.
Q: What do you think about Joey Votto being shopped around because his big contract is not going to help the team in the future? MIKE/Fort Thomas, Ky.
A: That big, big contract makes it very difficult to move him. What team could take it on? And until he can prove, if he ever can, that he is the player he was in 2010 (four years ago) it isn’t likely there is a great demand to acquire him because of the cost. There isn’t a great demand for a guy drawing walks and hitting mostly singles and doubles at $200 million.