From here and there, then and now, volume 9 of readers’ questions for hall of famer Hal McCoy…on the Reds minor league prospects, Devin Mesoraco, former Red Fred Norman, and…did the Reds know something about Todd Frazier when they traded him to the White Sox?
From Dave, between selfies at another restaurant: Now that Pete Rose has been inducted into the Reds hall of fame would major league baseball have any say if Rose’s sculpture was added to Mt. Rushmore?
DAVE: MLB has the say over many things, but Mount Rushmore isn’t one of them. The only thing they care about South Dakota is if enough folks from that state can get to Minnesota Twins games. And unlike most of the fans from around these parts, they are not that fond of Peter Edward Rose. If anybody is going to go up on Mount Rushmore from baseball and the Cincinnati Reds it will be Dave Collins, The Rapid City Rabbit.
From Josh: Could you even suggest a future starting nine from players currently playing in the Reds’ minor league system?
JOSH: No, I absolutely not only couldn’t suggest that, I can’t even guess. And neither can the Reds. That’s why I seldom pay attention to what is happening in the minors. Some players blossom in the minors and never make it in the majors and some players are fairly average in the minors but mature late or suddenly ‘get it’ and become good major league starts. I prefer to wait until they make ‘The Show’ before I start paying attention. And no team will ever have a starting nine make it to the majors from its minor league system. There are always players acquired via trade who already are major leaguers and there are always free agent signees.
From Joe B: Hal, I just read your column on how long it will take to rebuild the Reds. Two things: 1) will Reds fans ever see championship baseball again if the young talent just eventually walks for more money. And 2) if the answer to #1 is no, how do the Reds sell that?
JOE: Yes, I think it will take the Reds several years to even compete, let alone win championships. And it does appear that the Reds might be a Halfway House, with young players beginning their careers in Cincinnati only to move on for more money or to be traded for more prospects. What has to happen in the near future is for the Reds to catch lightning in a thimble for one year — have everything go right that includes no injuries, several players have career years and Lady Luck choose them to be “The Team” for one year. Then maybe they might make the playoffs. How do the Reds sell it? They bring back Pete Rose and The Great Eight and The Wire-to-Wire team for a few weekends.
From Gerry: I have a photo taken with Fred Norman back in the 70s and I wondered if he’s still living, where, and what became of him after baseball?
GERRY: Funny you should ask because I’ve been asked that a few times. Then this last weekend, when the Reds celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1976 team, I walked into the Interview Room at Great American Ball Park to greet that team and the first person I ran into was. . .Fred Norman. He looked great and I recognized him right away because Little Freddie Norman was about 5-foot-6. And he looked great. Fit. Trim. He looked exactly the same as when he was confounding major league hitters with his screwgie. I chatted with him briefly and neglected to ask where he was living and what he was doing. Great reporting, eh?
From Esser: Is Devin Mesoraco essentially done as a player for the Reds? Or any other team?
ESSER: He is too young and too talented to be ‘done,’ as you suggest. Yes, injuries have savaged him the last two years. While injuries are a big part of the catching profession, but Mesoraco already has had a career full of them and he is barely getting started. He is at the park every day doing his rehab and working out. He says he is feeling great and doing what he can as he recovers from another surgery. Pretty soon he’ll be known as The Bionic Man. I’m not ready to write him off. Some people think he’ll have to play another position, but as he says, “I’m a catcher, always have been a catcher and that’s what I’m going to be.” I won’t be against him and neither will Pete Rose.
From Mike in Sidney: The ESPN guys doing the College World Series say that there’s more talent world-wide than ever before? How can that be true, given the state of the Reds? By the way, that was Alex Cora (ESPN) talking.
MIKE: He is right. Baseball is more an international game than ever and it includes more than the Caribbean and Japan. Australia is beginning to furnish talent ans they are playing baseball more and more in Europe. Major League teams are doing a much better job of scouting the world for talent than ever before. And it has nothing to do with the current state of the Reds. They’ve done a good job of scouring for talent and they’ve done as well as anybody in signing Cubans lately (Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias). Actually, signing foreign players who are ready for the majors is more efficient because most of them don’t have to spend years in the minors developing, which is costly to the big club and not every minor leaguer makes it to the majors.
From Jim Clagg: This has nothing to do with the Reds, but why are the Atlanta Braves building another new stadium to replace one that’s 20 years old?
JIM: As always, follow the money. Turner Field is in a bad area of Atlanta and some call it a dangerous area. When I covered games there the security folks advised me not to leave the stadium alone at night, not even to stand outside the park waiting for a cab. In fact, cabs avoid the area. And it is also about private boxes, a big revenue stream for major league teams. The new park, in affluent Gwinnett County, about 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta, will be loaded with private suites.
From Richard: Can you tell me why Zack Greinke left the Dodgers, or why the Dodgers let him leave given their “Big Market” money to pay for talent?
RICHARD: Again, follow the money. The Arizona Diamondbacks buried Greinke under an avalanche of cash. The Dodgers offered him big money, too, but Greinke took the Arizona offers. As to why Greinke chose Arizona over Los Angeles, that’s something only he knows. Maybe he didn’t like the LA glitz. Maybe he didn’t want to be under the shadow of Clayton Kershaw. Maybe he wanted to be under less media pressure because he is a quiet guy who doesn’t have much to say to the media. Maybe he wanted to get away from Yasiel Puig. Who really knows? Only him.
From Dale: Hal, is (Todd) Frazier’s batting average (under .200) the reason he’s a White Sox now and not a Red? He hasn’t been the same since he won the Home Run Derby at the all-star game.
DALE: There is no way the Reds would know that Frazier would be hitting below the Mendoza Line at this point of the season. He is no longer a member of the Reds because he was on the verge of big money and the Reds couldn’t afford him. I still believe that if the Reds had been able to trade Brandon Phillips that Frazier would still be with the Reds. And while Frazier denies it, I believe the Home Run Derby ruined his 2015 season. While it was a fabulous event for Reds fans, seeing one of their own win it, Frazier was not the same the rest of the way. Neither was LA’s Joc Peterson, who finished second. Frazier denies it, but he also admitted that he was exhausted for a while after the Home Run Derby.
From Dan in Indy: Hal, to the best of your knowledge does anyone presently in major league baseball throw the “spitter” like Gaylord Perry? It’s been years since I’ve even heard it mentioned.
DAN: It is baseball’s most closely guarded secret. Yes, the ‘spitter’ is still used at times. But nobody talks about it because it is illegal and pitchers don’t want to get caught using it. As Reds Hall of Famer Eric Davis likes to say, tongue only partially in cheek, “If you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin.’ I asked Jose Rijo, a Reds Hall of Fame pitcher, if anybody still used a ‘doctored’ pitch and he smiled and said, “You better believe it, baby.”