The Question

People asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

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I sort of liked the reader questions on Twitter thing last week, so we did it again on HBT Daily a little while ago. And, like last week, we had way more questions than could fit on a three-minute video. Here are some of the many we left out:

Q: Are McLouths flowing locks of hair the key to the Braves season?

No. The key is the number of two-strike squeeze plays called by Fredi Gonzalez when the pitcher has already demonstrated that he can’t get a bunt down. I’ll let you decide if that has an inverse or direct relationship to Braves wins.

Q: Chuck Tanner? Thoughts?

I talked about Chuck Tanner when he died back in February. Short version: He was a nice decent man. He was also a great example that different kinds of teams call for different kinds of managers. An extreme “players’ manager,” he was awesome when he had a mature team with respected leadership like Willie Stargell and the “We are Family” Pirates. He was less awesome when he had a team that needed a firmer hand like the mid-to-late 80s Braves and the cocaine-addled post-Stargell Pirates.  All of that said, he got along with Dick Allen, and no one freaking got along with Dick Allen, so Tanner may have been some sort of saint or savant.

Q: If you could know for sure on one guy (re: steroid use), who would you pick?

I won’t name a specific name I’m curious about because that might suggest that I suspect him to begin with and that is a business I don’t feel comfortable getting into. Broadly speaking, though, I’d be really curious to know who used and who didn’t in the pre-Canseco era. Because Jose Canseco didn’t invent steroids and there is considerable evidence that they were being used in baseball at least in the 1970s and maybe earlier. I don’t approve of steroids, but I am not at all willing to say that baseball had “The Steroid Era,” that it neatly coincided with Jose Canseco’s emergence and the release of the Mitchell Report and pretend that there’s nothing else to know about it. Doing so is unfair to those who are being treated like monsters because of use in the 1990s-2000s and it lets earlier PED users off the hook when they shouldn’t be.

Q: Is Joe Maddon right or crazy for preferring Sam Fuld to Carl Crawford?

Did he said that? If so, I missed it. (UPDATE: he said it).  And if so, he’s neither right nor crazy. He’s just practical. Sam Fuld is in his clubhouse every day. Carl Crawford is not.  But yeah, liking Fuld as a player more than Crawford is pure bonkerousness.

Q: Do you see the inexplicable (and largely undefined) MLB TV blackout rules being revised any time soon? Affects Hawaii, too.

Not really, if for no other reason than MLB has not shown that it cares about this one iota. When baseball wakes up and realizes that it stands to make a bunch more money with MLB.tv and Extra Innings subscriptions than it does from cable customers who are theoretically but never actually able to watch, say, Twins games in Iowa because the team-affiliated networks don’t serve that area, they’ll change it.

Q:  Favorite Trek (TOS) movie? Any favorite lines?

KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

Q: What would you use first– Just for Men or Rogaine, and do the commercials play into that decision?

As a bald man this is a purely theoretical question. But let me just say that I think people who lose their hair or go gray naturally look and seem like happier and more content people than those who fight nature via chemicals, wigs and greasy kid stuff.

Q: Drinking age: 18 or 21?

I’m rather swayed by the idea that people old enough to be sent to fight a war or to be tried as an adult should be allowed to have a beer. At the same time, I will grant that our society is kind of messed up in that a lot more effort seems to be put into preparing a person to fight in a war and/or commit crimes than it does to teach them to handle alcohol and other adult matters responsibly, so who knows what would happen if we lowered the drinking age back down to 18 again.  As a 37 year-old man, I find that I care about this issue far less than I did, oh, 16-19 years ago.

Q: Under what circumstances would you send your 6’4″ Hawaiian first baseman up to home plate to bunt w/ one out?

I think the man that can answer that preceded the man who likes those two-strike squeeze plays as the Braves’ third base coach back in the day. Perhaps there is something in the water down in Atlanta that caused all of the Bobby Cox proteges to do silly things like this.

Q: Why did they stop making Jello Pudding Pops? Those things were delicious!

I think it was decided in the same meeting where it was decided to rename Ding Dongs as “King Dons.” Thankfully the good people at Hostess eventually came to their senses. Your move, Jell-O.

Q: How many FULL Marlins games do you watch in a given season, other than when they play the Braves?

This was probably prompted by my swipe at the Marlins’ broadcasting crew a couple of weeks ago. The answer: not many. I’d guess I watched five Marlins games other than Marlins-Braves last season (when I’m usually listening to Braves announcers anyway). So far this year I’ve seen the majority of two.  So yes, I’ll grant that my criticism of Hutton and Waltz isn’t based on a ton of data. That said, people who do watch tons of Marlins games have told me that it wasn’t off base, either.

Q: Top 3 bourbons?

Blanton’s, Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark.  I am limited, however, to the bigger brands that I can buy here in Columbus. I’m going to remedy this in June when the wife and I take a pilgrimage to Kentucky for a little weekend getaway/bourbon expedition.  I’m hoping to discover stuff I’ve never heard of and love like there’s no tomorrow.

Q: Is your wife a hottie? 

And that’s all the time we have for today. Let’s do this again next week, shall we?

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.