Royals ban blogger Jazayerli

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Evidently, I picked the wrong target last week in suggesting that the Royals fire general manager Dayton Moore.
If I wanted attention, I should have instead recommended the dismissal
of trainer Nick Swartz. That’s what Baseball Prospectus writer and huge
Royals fan Rany Jazayerli did recently. As a result, he’s been banned by the team:

“Just to be clear here, since I think everyone’s taking my words a
little too literally: I don’t think I’ve been “banned” in the sense
that they’re going to have security guards outside the stadium making
sure that I don’t buy a ticket. It does mean that the Royals have cut
off any access I may have from the team for my radio show, and – this
is critical – have intimated that any other radio show which has me on
as a guest faces the same penalty.”

Obviously, that last part is very nasty business if true. Regardless,
Jazayerli’s column was well reasoned and not at all inflammatory; that
the Royals are going after him is truly bizarre. Jazayerli’s piece,
which was published on his own blog and not Baseball Prospectus, was
going to be overlooked by most. Now it’ll be the talk of our little
corner of the Internet, and one can expect ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer and
SI’s Joe Posnanski to present their takes.

A lot of us Gen-Xers who grew up reading Bill James and later Neyer
and BP should have soft spots for the Royals. That we don’t, or at
least I don’t, is the result of an amazing run of incompetence still
going strong today. That they’ve turned on the one writer who has
expressed more Royals optimism on the Internet that anyone else over
the last 10 years or so is just the latest embarrassing act.

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.