ASK HAL: A Rebuild Takes Time

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Q: The dictionary defines rebuilding as to dismantle and reassemble with new parts, so how can the Reds say they are rebuilding when 13 of their 26 players are 29 or older? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.
A: Merriam-Websters knows words, not baseball. A baseball rebuild is not done overnight. It takes time. The Reds have the dismantling part down perfectly. They got rid of most of their best players. Now they have to methodically and carefully replace them. Those players 29 and over are stop gaps, the ones that will go when the Reds decide they’ve developed players to replace them. . .at different times. As they say, it’s process. And sometimes a process works and sometimes a process fails.

Q: Do the umpires stay in different hotels than the visiting teams on the road? — BILL, Waynesville.
A: They certainly do, as far apart as possible. Many teams stay in the same hotels as other teams on the road and the umpires have their own hotels. In that way, it reduces the possibility of assault and battery charges against managers and players. . .and, yes, maybe some volatile umpires, too. And it prevents players and umpires from becoming too palsy in hotel lounges.

Q: The Reds finished a three-game home sweep of the Texas Rangers by coming from behind and winning in the ninth inning in all three games, so can you recall a Reds team that did something like that? — BILL, Jacksonville, Fla.
A: As Meat Loaf sang it, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” The Reds scored walk-off wins in games
one and three. In game two, they scoed six runs in the eighth inning to take a 7-6 lead and held that lead in the top of the ninth and didn’t bat in the bottom of the ninth. In game one T.J. Friedl’s bottom on the ninth single scored Jonathan India for a 7-6 walk-off win. In game three, Nick Senzel’s two-run homer in tye bottom of the ninth gave the Reds a 5-3 walk-off win. That’s pretty exciting stuff,, but it is something The Big Red Machine did routinely, although they didn’t call them walk-off wins then. More like miracles.

Q: When somebody purchase an MLB team, is the new owner responsible for paying deferred money on contracts given by the previous owner? — DAVID, Kettering.
A: Absolutely. A contract is a contract is a contract. New ownership inherits all debts and contracts. Bob Castellini was not the owner when Jim Bowden constructed the deferred contract for Ken Griffey Jr. It was a $112.5 million deal, with $57.5 million deferred from 2009 to 2024. That means that Castellini has been on the hook for $3.6 million a year for Griffey. No wonder Castellini is tight with the cash these days.

Q: If a third baseman has a pop foul hit off his glove and fall to the ground, will the official scorer charge him witb an error even though it was in foul territory? — MARK, St. Henry.
A: To err is human and to drop a pop foul, even in foul territory, is an error. There can be circumstances that changes it.. If the third baseman has to make a long run and sticks out his glove and the ball glances away, the official scorer can rule, “No play,” meaning no error. Same thing if he runs into a wall or trip over tye rolled-up tarpaulin and drops the ball, “No play.” But a straight-up pop-up that is dropped with no extenuating circumstances is a ‘E’ for error and embarrassment.

Q: A lot of baserunners are wearing sliding gloves with extended fingers, so with the new larger bases doesn’t that give the runner an unfair advantage? — JEFF, Xenia.
A: No, it doesn’t. That’s because the glove is legal and every player can use one if he so chooses. I’ve been waiting for MLB to ban them, but it hasn’t happened. Maybe it will be banned if some player puts on one of those foam rubber hands with the forefinger pointing forward like football fans wear. Now that’s an unfair advantage.

Q: What is the logic and is there a rule regarding a ball being removed from play that is barely scuffed but a batted ground ball is returned to the pitcher and kept in play? — STEVE, Beavercreek.
A: This is one of baseball’s greatest mysteries. I am asked this question at least once a year and sometimes more than once., And I still don’t know the answer. I’ve asked umpires and received no definitive response. There is no rule regarding this strange activity. It seems to be reactionary. A pitch hits the dirt, the catcher holds up his hand, the umpire takes the smudged ball and replaces it in the catcher’s hand wity a shiny new $25 ball. I can’t even get an answer as to what happens to the ball taken out of play.

Q: Despite his big contract, the Cubs gave up on Jason Heyward and now he is having an MVP year with the Dodgers, so what changed? — RHONDA, Chicago.
A: Heyward, a budding superstar, signed an eight-year $184 million contract with the Cubs in 2016. Stardom never arrived. Perhaps he felt the pressure of being the big guy. The last couple of years he became a part-time player and heard boos in Wrigley Field. Finally, even though they owed him $22 million, the Cubs paid him to go away after last season. The Dodgers signed him to a minor-league deal and now he is a regular in Dodger Stadium. His slash line of .259/.369/.556 with four homers and eight RBI in 23 games are not MVP numbers. Reluctantly, I go to the analytics handbook and discover that his chase bad pitches ratio is at an all-time low and that his exit velocity and barreled balls are at all-time highs. He is thriving, probably because he is surrounded by stars and doesn’t have to be The Man. And Dodger fans are laid-back and don’t know the meaning of the word boo.

Q: Judging their record so far, with three wins over the Texas Rangers, shouldn’t the Reds move to the American League? — DAVID, Springfield.
A: Those back-to-back shutout losses to Tampa Bay don’t help the American League dialogue, although they did whip the Rays in the first game of the series, 8-1. So who do we coax to make the switch, Oakland, Kansas City, Colorado? It would make more sense to make the Reds, Athletics, Royals, Rockies and White Sox a division of the Class AAA International League. Call it the Rebuilders Division.

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