Leyland defends "benching" of Ordonez

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Following Magglio Ordonez’s “indefinite” benching on Thursday, it didn’t take long for his agent Scott Boras to chime in, insinuating that the move had more to do with his $18 million option for 2010 than his poor start:

“Great major league players have
periods where they don’t perform well. It’s befuddling to me, why
they’ve done this. The Tigers are treating Magglio Ordonez differently
than they have in the past. Coming off three consecutive years when he
played really well for them … this is unheard of.”

It would be one thing if Ordonez was performing somewhat close to the
same level of the past three seasons, but he’s batting an anemic
.272/.347/.343 with two homers and 22 RBI through his first 216
at-bats. He’s currently slugging at a lower rate than Coco Crisp and
teammate Placido Polanco. Once a hero of the 2006 ALCS, the 35-year-old hasn’t gone deep in 38 games.

Jim Leyland publicly defended the move on Saturday, responding to Boras by saying:

“This is about no other issue. This
is about Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so he can
contribute the way he feels good about himself, because, by his own
admission, he’s embarrassed.”

“I’m very respectful of Scott Boras,
but I’m not going to listen to his (nonsense). Scott Boras might be
better off if he lets Magglio and myself handle this instead of him.”

Ordonez’s struggles are a convenient excuse to bench him, no doubt, but
the best solution for all involved may just be going the “the Gary
Sheffield route” by cutting him loose.

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think.

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.