The Question

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


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.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.