Hal Steinbrenner to Joe Giradi: "I can't imagine this team without you"

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MLB.com’s Barry Bloom sat down with Hal Steinbrenner recently. During their conversation Little Stein, after first reiterating that he doesn’t do contract extensions until the current contracts actually end, strongly suggested that Joe Girardi isn’t going anywhere:

“Quite frankly, I had a talk with him,” Steinbrenner said. “I said,
‘Joe, this is something you can’t take personally. It’s something I’ve
never done. It’s something I don’t believe in, and I don’t believe in
making exceptions. But I can’t imagine this team without you. So know
that.’ And he was fine with it. It is what is.

“I hope everybody is reasonable and we can work it out easily. But
there’s no doubt I want them here.”

The “them” refers to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who also are winding down their current contracts. But no one really doubted that they’d remain in the fold. There’s always a chance, however, that Girardi wouldn’t be back, either because the team disappoints or because he asks for too much money or what have you. These quotes, however, make it sound like Girardi is going to be around regardless.

Which makes sense. If this Yankees team doesn’t have a great year, it’s not very likely that it will be due to something Girardi does or doesn’t do. It will be because of injuries or one of the older players finally feeling his age or something like that.

Girardi is a good company man. He deals with the scrutiny from the press pretty well.  The players seem to like him. He hasn’t mishandled the assets he’s been given to manage. Those are the most important traits for a New York Yankees manager. He deserves a new deal in my mind.

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.