Cervelli is useful, but don't get used to him

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There’s some talk that Jorge Posada is contributing to the Yankees’ pitching woes:

One unsettling fact for the Yankees is the difference when
Jorge Posada catches. With Posada behind the plate, the Yankees’
pitchers have a 6.31 E.R.A. The combined E.R.A. with Francisco
Cervelli, Jose Molina and Kevin Cash is 3.81 . . . Posada, 37, has
handled many exceptional pitchers in his career. Although some, like
Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina, have preferred other catchers, Posada
does not have to apologize for his resume. Posada takes his job
seriously and is an emotional engine of the team.

Yet
Burnett, in particular, seems to struggle with him. In Burnett’s four
starts pitching to Posada, opponents have batted .330. In nine starts
with the other catchers, the average is .223.

This not just media
chatter on a day off, as Burnett himself is on record questioning
Posada’s pitch selection, albeit in somewhat diplomatic terms.

Not
that any of this matters, because there are two numbers that are going
to determine who catches for the Yankees going forward. The first is
.940, which is Posada’s current OPS, and which more than makes up for
whatever impact his pitch choices have on his starters’ ERA. The second
is 1, which is the number of minor league options Francisco Cervelli
has left, meaning that when Jose Molina comes back from the DL,
Cervelli will most likely be enhancing the ERAs of the Scranton-Wilkes
Barre pitching staff, not the one in New York.

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)
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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.