The Question

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

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We did the reader questions on HBT Daily an hour ago or so. Here are the leftovers. Which, like pizza and lasagna and Thanksfiving stuff, is better than when they were served fresh.  There were not quite as many questions this week since we did it on such short notice, but some good ones all the same.

Q: Can the Phillies find a way to add a consistent bat to the line-up to protect Howard?

Yes. As soon as Chase Utley comes back. Well, OK, that’s not protection, because protection is bunk, but it is adding a bat, and the return of Utley hitting the daylights out of the ball is way more likely then Philly finding a big bat on the trade market. Because there really aren’t any. Seriously: the best you can hope for is maybe a Josh Willingham/Jeff Francoeur type, and I don’t see that as a game-changer.

Q: Who wins in a fight? Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Miguel Cabrera?

Elijah Craig. Who was a great, great man.

Q: Why am I still an Astros fan?

Because you know that when Jim Crane takes over as owner this summer he’s going to fire Ed Wade.

Q:  I was going to ask about my status for tonight’s game, but you said HBT and not SBT.

This question refers to the idea this questioner — @MrWorkrate — had a few days ago: NBC launching SoftballTalk.  Which is brilliant, frankly. We could tackle all the tough issues, such as how attenuated can the relationship be before the player is truly considered a ringer? What one piece of equipment purchased by your IT guy/third baseman makes him cross the line from “committed player” to “softball douche?” (I’m thinking big elbow pad). How many times can the guy from accounting make the “hey Alice, does your husband play softball too” joke before it’s justifiable homicide? (we passed that point years ago).  Lots of issues floating around softball. Ripe for explanation at SoftballTalk.

Q: If a player has pain in his shoulder & numbness in his hands during spring training, when do you pony up for the MRI? 

This question was asked by Twitter’s fake Frank Wren, clearly in reference to Jason Heyward’s current issues. I just wish the real Frank Wren would have actually considered it. Because, really, I’m getting awfully tired of Jason Heyward being described as totally healthy until the exact moment he isn’t, after which everyone says “well, clearly he has been hurting for a long time! Look at his awful batting line!” Grrr.

Q: If you had to choose one of Bourbon or Baseball, for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Depends. Can I switch to scotch?

Q: Who’s most likely to block McCann (the best in the NL) a the All-Star Game starter? Buster Posey (media darling) Yadier Molina (threepeat) or Miguel Montero (hometown favorite)

Won’t be Montero, because I don’t think I’ve ever met a Diamondbacks fan, and someone would have to vote for him. Selig will force Bruce Bochy to add him to the roster to placate the folks in Phoenix, however.  My guess would be Posey.  Everyone loves Buster. Who was out on that play at second base in the NLDS. Thrown out by Brian McCann. The best catcher in the National League.

Q: Is Brandon Phillips the best all-around 2nd baseman in baseball?

I’m coming around to that idea. At least if, with the right kind of eyes, we can look and honestly say that we’ve seen Chase Utley’s high-water mark —that place where his wave finally broke and rolled back.

That’s all we got this week. We’ll try to give you a bit more notice next week.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.