03/08/09 7:25 PM ET
Inbox: Hensley to the rotation?
Beat reporter Alyson Footer tackles fans' burning questions
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
-- Jon C., Deer Park, Texas
Hensley was pegged as a bullpen candidate when Spring Training began, and if that is still the case, I do not see him making the team when camp breaks in a few weeks. The bullpen is pretty much set, and barring injury (or a major meltdown from one of the incumbent relievers), Hensley is probably ticketed for Triple-A.
That said, before Sunday's game, manager Cecil Cooper was asked if Hensley was viewed more as a starting or relief candidate, and Cooper said he's just looking for someone to get some outs.
Needless to say, this spring has been a rough one for the Astros. I don't see Hensley making the rotation, but who knows? Few pitchers so far have really stood out from the pack, except for Roy Oswalt, who's probably having way more fun with Team USA than he would be in and around central Florida these days.
After seeing what Pudge Rodriguez has done so far in the World Baseball Classic, do you think the Astros will reconsider their decision and sign him?
-- John B., Houston
I'm not getting too terribly excited over Pudge lighting up the Panamanian team's pitching, but you do raise a good point. I do not know if a solid Classic performance will sway the Astros to look into Pudge, but I also have to wonder if there is something else going on that we don't know about. Why hasn't anyone signed him? Catching is thin everywhere. Do the general managers know something we don't? We're not privy to all of the whispers around the league, so this one's hard to figure out. It can't just be because no one wants to negotiate with Scott Boras on a player in the twilight of his career, although I'm sure that's part of it.
That said, if Pudge does indeed continue to knock the cover off the ball during the Classic this month, I'd have to venture to guess that will price him out of the Astros' range anyway.
I am slightly worried that the Astros have only won one game, and that they have been held to multiple shutouts, while it seems the opposition runs away with the wins. Is this cause for concern? If not now, when should this begin to worry us?
-- Andrew D., Huntington, Texas
This is somewhat of a cause for concern, although it's not as much of a concern as it would be if this was happening during the regular season. Wins and losses aren't as big of a deal during exhibition play -- it's really all about the individual performances. I think we've seen some promise from players actually expected to make the final roster. I'm not as concerned with how the Triple-A pitchers are doing in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, to be honest.
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So I probably haven't answered your question, but there's really no black or white response. Is there cause for concern? Yes. Is it time to panic? Probably not.
Any chance Miguel Tejada is signed after this season for another three years at $25 million to $30 million? If he plays a solid year, he'd be a good buy.
-- Mark B., Wilder, Ky.
This is an easy one. There is absolutely no way the Astros will be spending $25 million to $30 million on a 35ish shortstop in a decline, whether it's Tejada or someone else.
Help me understand what would happen to Aaron Boone's contract if perhaps Chris Johnson has an exceptional spring and Aaron doesn't hit his weight. What options do the Astros have financially with Boone?
-- Ben, Abilene, Texas
Boone signed for $750,000 guaranteed, and that's what he'll get, even if he's released. He's not going to be released, however. The Astros signed him because they wanted a veteran hitter to share the time with Geoff Blum at third base. Johnson hasn't even played a full season at Triple-A yet -- let's give him some more time before we heap 150 Major League games on him so quickly. His time will come soon enough.
First, besides Oswalt, there does not seem to be much depth at pitcher. Do you expect the Astros to try to pick someone up? Two, do you feel we will run more this year?
-- Robert L., Austin, Texas
I think by now it's been pretty well established that the Astros do not have any more money to spend, so no, I do not think they're going to pick anyone up in the starting pitching department. And as far as running more, that remains to be seen. The Astros have some speed with Kazuo Matsui at the top, Hunter Pence somewhere in the middle and Michael Bourn somewhere closer to the bottom, but as far as how that will translate to basestealing, we'll have to wait and see.