Hal McCoy: Should Reds fans be concerned with Votto’s production?

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: During last week’s three-game sweep of the Reds by the Pirates, did you, like me, find yourself singing Neil Sedaka’s song, “Laughter in the Rain?” — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Rain delays are not humorous, especially last Friday when I hit the pillow at 4:30 a.m. When Dusty Baker managed the Reds he would say, “I’m no meteorologist, but I know it is going to rain the next three days because we are playing the Pirates and it always rain in those games.” As far as Neil Sedaka, I prefer “Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do,” a song a lot of players might want to sing Tuesday at the non-waiver trade deadline.

»MCCOY: Winker’s season over; shoulder surgery next

Q: Are you concerned about Joey Votto’s struggles because of his lack of power and his average are not up to his standards? TOM, Kettering.

A: There has to be some concern and one wonders if there is an injury involved, although you won’t get Votto or the team to admit it. As of this writing, Votto is hitting .281 with nine homers and 50 RBI, all far below his norm. Teams continue to walk him and pay the price because Eugenio Suarez bats behind him and has picked up Votto’s slack. Votto had one hit in the first six games after the All-Star break and he didn’t even participate in the Home Run Derby. Votto has a habit of going on long streaks of amazing offense and maybe, just maybe, if he isn’t hurt we’ll see that happen again.

»RELATED: Votto praises greatness of Ted Williams in PBS doc

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»RELATED: You won’t believe this Votto stat

Q: If the Reds are smart enough to keep Jim Riggleman as manager how much say does he have in choosing a coaching staff? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: Most managers have major input, preferring to pick coaches they have worked with and trust. The front office, though, sometimes strongly suggests guys already in the organization. If the Reds wisely take the interim tag off Riggleman’s name, he probably would retain his bench coach and friend, Pat Kelly, and pitching coach Danny Darwin. If the Reds don’t hire Riggleman, the St. Louis Cardinals might and he would take those guys with him. That, of course, is all speculation and wishful thinking.

Q: As you have an excellent memory, do you recall Sparky Anderson saying you are not as good as you look on a winning streak and not as bad as you look during a losing streak? — JERRY, Lebanon.

A: Ask my wife, Nadine, about my memory when she asks me to wheel out the trash wagon when I get home from a game. As they say, maybe I misremember this but I recall it was Davey Johnson who uttered those words when he managed the Reds. He said it in 1995 when the team was on a losing streak but eventually made it to the NLCS and lost to the Atlanta Braves. I do know one thing, whether the Baltimore Orioles this year are on a long losing streak or a short winning streak, they are bad.

»WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Members of 2013 Reds wild-card team

Q: Has Jesse Winker played himself into Rookie of the Year contention? — JOHN, Oxford.

A: Indeed he certainly was, at least until his shoulder problem cropped up again last week, forcing him to have season-ending shoulder surgery. Winker’s comment early this week was a great indicator of what was to come when he said, “I’m not comfortable talking about it.” That smacked of seriousness. Winker’s statistics are all in the top echelon, but the rookies the national media talk about are Miami’s Brian Anderson and the Atlanta twosome of Ronnie Acuna and Ozzie Albies. The four-man outfield rotation didn’t help Winker’s chances and the injury hurts him in more ways than one. Forget about Rookie of the Year. Just get him healthy for next season.

»MCCOY: Should Riggleman get manager of year consideration?

Q: When do the Reds make a decision on Robert Stephenson and do you think this decision may hinge on what happens with Homer Bailey? RON, Clemmons N.C.

A: Ah, the Robert Stephenson enigma. He was the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2011, so they aren’t going to give up on him. He is 10-6 with a 3.08 earned run average and 117 strikeouts in 100 innings at Class AAA Louisville, but over his last 10 starts he is 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA. His stubbornness to take instruction has hurt him in the past, but there are indications he has changed. Homer Bailey has nothing to do with Stephenson’s progress. Stephenson is probably just an injury to a Reds starter away from a call-up or the lack of production from one of the current starters not named Homer Bailey.

Q: Should the Reds cut Homer Bailey because his contract and his performance are killing the team. — JON, Louisville, Ky.

A: Obviously you didn’t see Homer pitch last week against the Cardinals. He couldn’t have been much better. When he is healthy, and he appears to be just that right now, he is very good. His miserable start this year can be attributed to rust from not pitching much for nearly three years and a knee problem this year. If the Reds ‘cut’ him, they still have to pay him the rest of his contract, close to $50 million. Do you think the team is going to toss $50 million down the sewer. As far as his contract killing the team, the team gave him that contract, so whose fault is it, if there is a fault. My prediction — Bailey will win more than he loses the rest of the season.

Q: Have any baseball beat writers every moved to manage the team they covered and I ask because it is puzzling to me that the Reds have not capitalized on your experience and hired you as a special assistant. — JACK, Vandalia.

A: Ah, Jack, you make me blush. No writer ever became a manager. But the Los Angeles Dodgers once hired former beat writer Fred Claire, a native of Jamestown, Oh., as general manager and he was highly successful and well-respected. Me? Hah. The Reds front office barely talks to me. Manager Lou Piniella was the only manager ever to ask my advice. When he took over the team he asked me what the team needed most. I told him, “A leadoff hitter.” Midway through his first season when he tried Chris Sabo and Barry Larkin as leadoff hitters, he said to me, “Hal, you were exactly right.” Thanks, Lou.

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