Ask Hal: What’s In The Future For Joey Votto?

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Q: Should commissioner Rob Manfred be more concerned about having three teams winning more than 100 games than with having three teams losing more than 100? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: I have not heard him express any concern about 100 wins/losses either way. Sure, he would like competitive balance, but with a 162-game schedule there are going to be 100-game winners and 100-game losers. Just hope your teams (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore) are the winners and hope your teams (Oakland, Kansas City, Colorado) are not the losers.

Q: Is part of Elly De La Cruz’s fielding problems compounded by that overly large glove he uses? — TRogers, Dayton.
A: He is a big man with big hands and needs a big-boy glove. Joe Morgan used a glove barely bigger than a mitten, but Little Joe had little hands. De La Cruz seems to have a lot of balls tip off the end of the glove, so in this case size doesn’t matter. Being an amateur pyschologist, I believe he is taking his offensive problems out to the field on defense.

Q: Is there something in the water in Cincinnati that causes Reds players to spit excessively because I don’t remember The Big Red Machine players doing it? — VAUGHN, Beavercreek.
A: I think it is in the rulebook, 6.05(e), that an MLB player must salivate at least twice a game. At least it seems that way. It probably all started when the spitball was legal. Now that it is illegal, players still spit in their hands. The Big Red Machine? Oh, yeah, they were The Great Expectorators.

Q: Joey Votto hit a single in what may be his last at bat in Great American Ball Park, so have you heard of a pitcher grooving one in that situation out of respect? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: In Votto’s case, the game was still on the line, so probaby not there. But late in the 1968 season, Mickey Mantle said it was his last year. He had 534 home runs, tied with Jimmy Foxx for third on the all-time list. Denny McLain, on his way to his 31st win, had a 6-1 lead. He and catcher Jim Price decided to groove one for The Mick. Price asked Mantle what kind of pitch he wanted and he said, “High and inside cheese (fastball).” McLain delivered and Mantle hit home run No. 535.

Q: How long can the Reds afford to keep this young team together? — WALT, Beavercreek.
A: That is going to be a major issue from the front office. With all the young players arriving at the same time, they are going to become arbitration-eligible and possible free agents at the same time. There is no way the team can afford to keep all of them. They are going to have to pick and chose judiciously as to who to keep, who to trade and who to let go via free agency? It is better than not having enough good players, but it will be Excedrin Headache No. 9 for the Reds.

Q: How surprised were you to see Elly De La Cruz dropped to ninth in the batting order? — RICHARD, Tipp City.
A: Stunned, at first. It made sense to drop him in the order because he had become an automatic out, almost an automatic strikeout. But ninth? Then, it hit me. Where else? I do believe that his problems began when they started batting him leadoff. For some reason, his descent began right then and has not ended.

Q: With Joey Votto’s batting average in the low .200s, what is your opinion about next year for him? — DAVE, Springfield.
A: First of all, in today’s game a high batting average is no longer a priority. It is all about launch angle, velocity, home runs and strikeouts. I know Pete Rose is shaking his head. As for Votto, the Reds have a public relations nightmare. His legion of fans want him back. But he is 40 and on the down-swing. And how would they get him playing time? Would they take it away from first baseman Chrisitan Encarnacion-Strand. Do they buy Votto out for $7 mllion and add $3 million to bring him back as a part-time DH? It’s a head-scratcher and I’m glad I don’t have to mske that decision.

Q: What’s your opinion of both the New York Yankees and New York Mets missisng the playoffs? — JOE, Kettering.
A: I’m sure there is a lot of knuckle-gnashing in the television offices because TV prefers the big-market teams. As for me, hoo-ray, hoo-ray, hoo-ray, with apologies to Yankees and Mets fans and to my great friend, Yankees manager Aaron Boone. But I love it when teams try to purchase their way into the playoffs and it flops, especially the Mets, who invested more than the gross national product of Ecuador and are on the outside peering in.

Q: It appears that soon MLB will expand to 32 teams, so what cities do you think will be added? — ROBERT, Big Canoe, Ga.
A: It makes sense to add a team in each league so there will be 16 instead of the uneven 15. My guess is uneducated (as are all of them). I’d say a return to Montreal is imminent, if they build a new stadium and don’t plan to return to Olympic Stadium, man ’s monument to concrete. Las Vegas has added the NHL and NFL and baseball can’t be far behind. And Nashville is a possiblity. I haven’t heard anything, though, about Big Canoe.


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