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: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.