TCB Podcast Mailbag: Ask your questions and we'll give you answers

Scott Halleran

Remember all those questions you send in for the podcast? Well, we answer the best of what doesn't go on the air here.

Hi. I'm David Coleman. You may remember me from such podcasts as the one where I drove in my car, the one where we talked to that famous person or the one where I went on a rant.

Because we get a ton of good questions for our podcast that we often don't get time to cover, Tim and I came up with the idea of opening a TCB Mailbag to handle the overflow. So, keep sending in those Q's and if they don't get answered in our normal Sunday show, I'll try to pick them up for this Tuesday morning feature.

Thanks for everyone who sent in questions. Let's get to talking about the Astros.

Tony Mengden asks: Think the Astros have any in interest in the Cuban defector Abreu?

For those who aren't familiar with Jose Abreu, he's a 26-year old first baseman who recently defected from Cuba to another Caribbean island. He played in the World Baseball Classic last season, acquitting himself well against the best pitching in the world (or a close approximation).

Abreu could be the best hitter on the planet right now. He certainly put up those kind of numbers last season in Cuba. According to Jonah Keri, he's also got some legitimate comparisons to other star first basemen from the not-so-recent past:

"Is he Barry Bonds? No," Forst said. "If you do a comprehensive survey of the clubs, they'd say he is not the best hitter on the planet."

But?

"There are legitimate comparisons to Ryan Howard."

Baseball America predicts the process of clearing Abreu to sign with a major league team will take some time, so Houston wouldn't even be involved until the winter. They are getting more and more involved in international scouting, so why not look at Abreu?

Houston has some prospects at first base, including Japhet Amador, Jonathan Singleton and even Preston Tucker. But, if Abreu can be the kind of impact player that Yoenis Cespedes has been for the A's? He'd be worth an investment. After all, the Astros have the designated hitter option now. They could easily play Abreu with Amador or Singleton at the same time.

Abreu is going to be expensive, but if Houston evaluates his talent and sees he can make an impact, I think they'll get involved.

Jeremy Joyner asks: With a weak AL ROY class, do you see Jarred Cosart getting consideration for Rookie of the Year?

Unfortunately, I don't think so. Rookie of the Year voting is done by the BBWAA, but it's not quite the same as Hall of Fame voting. Each chapter gets a couple votes for each award, and it rotates around (I think). So, there are new-wave thinkers who vote on things other than win totals and all that, but there are still plenty who hold to the old ways of thinking about baseball.

So, Cosart will take a hit with people who don't like his low win total and the fact that he plays with the Astros. Others will ding him for not having enough innings. Even if he gets the benefit of the doubt, he still has to contend with Wil Myers and Danny Salazar, two rookies with limited time who are nonetheless playing with winning teams.

All that adds up to Cosart getting no love for ROY. Unless, of course, I get a vote by some miracle. Then, he'll at least be on one ballot.

alumni-trinity-u asks: That fat guy or Carter? (I think he meant Japhet Amador)

It's Carter. You may get frustrated by the strikeouts, but the power is real and he's done it for years in the majors. Amador, for all his potential, hasn't done that and isn't much younger than Carter. Point, set and match to Trogdor.

Richard asks: Chances that Stassi will replace Castro as the catcher of the future?

Not much. He's only four years younger than Castro and hasn't proven himself in the majors like Castro has. Castro is entering the prime of his career and will likely be an Astro for four or five more years. By that time, Stassi will be entering his prime as a 26-year old. That could mean Castro would be the catcher of the present and near future while Stassi is still the catcher of the far future.

Does that make sense?

Meanwhile, I don't love Stassi's entire minor league performance data enough to be confident he'll profile as a solid starter in the majors yet.

Finally, A.N. Aardvark Esq. asks: How do you repair the bullpen for 2014? Any FA that could compliment the team next year? What could Humber learn from Scott Kazmir?

I'm of the opinion that part of the problems with the bullpen lie in small sample sizes. Relievers are naturally volatile. In their natural habitat, they roam and play, stalking through the savannah looking for the elusive save. Sometimes, a guy can look horrible one year and great the next.

There's still talent in Houston's bullpen. That includes Jose Cisnero, who was good and then wasn't, along with a ton of younger pitchers. Add in a few veterans, including a new rent-a-closer, and Houston's 'pen gets stronger.

As for actual targets? One intriguing name is Jesse Crain, who has been lights-out for the White Sox when he wasn't hurt. If he gets a chance to close in Houston, might that entice him to sign here? Another name to watch is Boone Logan, a free agent who's under 30 and has always had a good strikeout rate. If he wants to leave the Yankees, Houston might be a nice landing spot.

As for Humber learning from Kazmir? Not sure that's the kind of help Humber needs.

More from TCB:

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