Papelbon being Papelbon

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s_ffix_mlbdraftrp_080318_mezzn.standard[1].jpgJonathan Papelbon has set new standards in athlete insecurity with his comments on Billy Wagner, which D.J. touched on this morning.

Papelbon, sounding as if some neighborhood bully was threatening to steal his candy, wondered aloud why the Red Sox would even think of acquiring the 38-year-old lefty.
Never mind Wagner’s 385 career saves, or his 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, or the fact he was dealing mid-90s heat in his return to the bigs last week. Never mind that he might actually help the team.

Even when attempting to soften his stance, the Red Sox’s closer couldn’t help himself, essentially repeating his stance that Wagner might ruin the delicately crafted chemistry of the Boston bullpen. (via WEEI.com)

“It’s not that it shakes the balance it’s just that you have that little bit of time of getting used to how we’re going to use this guy? What situations will he be best in? Who’s going to leave our bullpen? It’s a multitude of things,” Papelbon said. “It’s not just one specific thing. There’s a lot of things that go into this equation.

He’s right. There are a lot of things going into the equation. Questions for much smarter people — like Terry Francona and Theo Epstein — to consider. Questions that those two also undoubtedly considered before adding Victor Martinez to a DH/C/1B mix that already included Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell.

Oddly enough, Papelbon wasn’t worried about team chemistry then.

But let’s just say that Boston’s closer, as talented as he is, might not be the ummm, sharpest spike in the cleat. In fact, he has made it a habit of stuffing his foot deep down his throat, sometimes up to the tibia. Granted, the things he says sometime smack of truth, but that doesn’t mean they should be said.

Some examples …

Papelbon said he, not future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, should be the closer for the All-Star game, a contest played at Yankee Stadium.

He once said that if the money was right, he’d be happy to pitch for the Yankees. (That one sat well with the Nation).

And he once called Manny Ramirez a cancer, saying “It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening.”

Exactly. Just another case of Papelbon being Papelbon.

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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.