Astros mailbag take two

Alyson Footer, who covers the Astros for MLB.com, answers questions every week or so. I think she answered one of mine once, but maybe she just wrote me back on something. Don’t remember.

Here are the questions she was asked this week, with my answers:

Who do you think will be starting at catcher on Opening Day? Also, how long do you think it will take for Jason Castro to reach the big leagues?
— Renaud R., Clarksville, Tenn.

She says Humberto Quintero, which seems reasonable enough but not cause for excitement. Jason Castro hit 2 home runs last year in the New York-Penn League for a team that went 28-45. Even less cause for excitement. On the other hand, maybe J.R. Towles will pull a Luke Scott and start to hit this year.

I know he had an excellent batting average, but should we be concerned with Lance Berkman’s apparent declining power numbers?
— Josh B., Pasadena, Calif.

Josh, I’m not sure what you mean when you say “declining.” Oh, wait, I do. His homers went down from 45 in 2006 to 34 in ’07 to 29 last season. But … his doubles are way up. He slugged .567. He had a great season. I’d be a lot more concerned about Carlos Lee, but he was OK last year, too.

Instead of keeping Ty Wigginton, have the Astros considered giving Mark Saccomanno a try? I got to see him when he was with the Hooks in Double-A, and besides his strikeouts, he seemed like a solid player everywhere else.
— Bryan L., Corpus Christi, Texas

Sadly, the strikeouts cannot be surgically removed. If anything, they’ll increase at the major-league level.

Does anyone else think that Kazuo Matsui didn’t pull his weight last year? I think we did just fine when he was out, and someone else can use him more. What could we get for him in trade?
— Madeline, Houston

In trade? Nothing. I liked watching Matsui play when he was healthy last year, and I was not happy with the signing. But he projects intelligence on the field, and he’s fast, at least by Astros standards. I’m not sure what a player does to cause himself to have anal fissures, but I am sure I don’t want to know.

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