Hall-of-fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about America’s pastime. If you’d like to tap into that knowledge, send a question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Jay Bruce is leading the league in strikeouts, would you trade Bruce for Drew Stubbs straight up? — DAVE, MIAMISBURG/CENTERVILLE/BEAVERCREEK
A: At the time of your query, the Cleveland Indians probably would not make that trade, especially with the way they’re playing. Stubbs is hitting .264 to Bruce’s .248. Stubbs has 34 strikeouts and Bruce has 49. Stubbs has four stolen bases, Bruce has none. Both have two homers. Bruce leads in RBIs 17 to 10 but Bruce has had double the opportunities to drive in runs. Ask the same question on the Fourth of July, when the real corn stands tall.
Q: What do the players call Shin-Soo Choo because I’m sure by now he has a nickname? — BRANT, CINCINNATI
A: A Boy Named Choo? Big League Choo? Mr. Choo? Sir Choo? Actually, manager Dusty Baker calls him Mr. Choo, probably because he can’t remember Shin-Soo (who can?). The team, though, just calls him Choo.
Q: Which will be broken first, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Pete Rose’s career 4,256 hits, Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters, Walter Johnson’s 110 shutouts or Cy Young’s 511 wins? — ALLEN, BEAVERCREEK
A: That’s easy. None of the above. You’ve cited five untouchable baseball records. And I’ll give you another: Johnny Vander Meer’s two straight no-hitters. Three in a row? I’ll bet the Great American Ball Park pitcher’s mound that no pitcher in our lifetime will even tie Vander Meer.
Q: Is Corky Miller’s inability to hit negated by the value you get by his catching rookie Tony Cingrani or any other pitcher? — JOHN, INDIANAPOLIS
A: Miller is merely a stopgap guy, up here only because Ryan Hanigan is hurt. When Hanigan comes back this week, Miller returns to Louisville. Any catcher who hits well is a bonus, but a catcher’s primary focus is in running a game from behind the plate and handling the pitchers. Miller is such a master that pitchers trust him to hold their filled wallets while they pitch because when they get it back there might be more money in it than when they gave it to him.
Q: Donald Lutz grounded into a fielder’s choice with no outs and the bases loaded and a run scored, so he received an RBI. But the announcers said if he had hit into a double play and the run scored he wouldn’t get an RBI. Is that the rule? — BRAD, GREENVILLE
A: That is, indeed, the rule. The thinking is that a batter should not benefit for making two outs on one swing, even if a run scores. Instead of perhaps prolonging a big inning with a hit, the batter probably has killed the inning. Any batter who would want an RBI for hitting into a double play is probably happy when he strikes out and a runner steals second base.
Q: Do you think Johnny Cueto will ever be the No. 1 starter and staff anchor the Reds hoped he would after he has only pitched 200 innings once in his career? And that was last year when he got hurt in his first game in the postseason. — MARK, BLOOMINGTON, IND.
A: Ever? Hope to be? Last I checked he was the Reds No. 1 the last two years. Injuries happen and they even happen to No. 1 pitchers. That can’t be helped. But that doesn’t diminish a guy’s stuff and his ability when he is on the mound. Cueto, even hurt, remains the Reds’ No. 1, but Mat Latos is coming fast. And what’s wrong with two No. 1s?
Q: Do you believe that Dusty Baker ever considered putting Shin-Soo Choo in the cleanup spot and Brandon Phillips in leadoff when Ryan Ludwick got hurt? — ANDREW, FORT LORAMIE
A: Baker put more time into which pair of shoes to wear on Opening Day than that scenario. The Reds obtained Choo to bat leadoff and nobody could be doing it better. And Phillips is near the top of the league in RBIs, so why mess with the two most productive hitters in your lineup? Baker takes enough criticism for his lineups without juggling Choo and Phillips.
Q: Dusty Baker and other managers use their closers in the ninth inning of tie games and I wonder why they do that and waste their closers for extra-inning games? — DENNIS, DAYTON
A: Most of them do it to preserve that tie. If they don’t keep that tie then there are no extra innings and the game is lost. All managers are men of the moment, go for the win now and don’t worry about the 10th, 11th or 16th innings. There is nothing written anywhere that says only use your closer as your last possible pitcher. Managers just hope they can use the closer in the last inning with their team leading. As somebody once said, “Managers make plans and Abner Doubleday laughs.”
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Why does only the pitcher in the last inning get a save, even if another pitcher works the eighth inning with a lead and preserves it? — MIKE, CENTERVILLE
A: Sorry, one save per customer. By your reasoning, every pitcher who comes into a game when his team is leading should get a save. When a team wins, why not just give every pitcher who appears a win? Actually, there is a statistic for your scenario. It is called a “hold,” and that eighth-inning pitcher who preserves the lead gets the hold and the ninth-inning pitcher gets the “save.” There are so many stats out there now I’m waiting for a hard-luck pitcher who gets no run support to be awarded a “nice try.”