So what's David Wright's problem?

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David Wright is struggling lately, and this morning we have two competing explanations for it.  First is Tim Smith of the Daily News:

Wright won’t admit it, but Citi Field has gotten inside his head and he
can’t shake it. If a park can haunt a baseball player, then Citi Field
is haunting Wright. How else to explain how it has shrunk Wright’s power
since the move over from Shea?

Then comes Buster Olney:

Clearly, he is not comfortable at the plate; scouts are noticing that he
is flinching at breaking pitches, a tendency that they believe started
after Wright was beaned last summer in a game against the Giants.

To illustrate, Olney posts Wright’s pre-beaning stats from last year and his post-beaning stats through last night.  The difference is stark.  .324 average and eight homers in the 426 at bats before the beaning, .253 and nine homers in the 217 at bats since.  Power up, but contact and strikeout rates way, way down.

I suppose those explanations aren’t mutually-exclusive, but I’ve always been far less impressed with the “David Wright is spooked by Citi Field” line of reasoning. Ballplayers play in all kinds of parks as they come up through the ranks, and Wright has never been some home-run-or-die kind of hitter anyway.  If anything, he strikes me as the kind of player who would lament some lost homers but be happy with the extra doubles to the gap. In contrast, if scouts are seeing Wright flinch on breaking pitches it would definitely explain a lot.

Of course a third explanation seems like the most prudent one, at least for now:  he’s simply in a mini-slump.  Despite the recent wave of strikeouts, the guy is hitting .277/.403/.527 with seven homers on the year. That paces-out to a 36 homer, 114 RBI season.  The homers would represent a career high.  The .928 OPS he’s currently sporting would be the second best of his career if it lasted all season.

Could it be . . . nah, forget I even considered it. No one ever overreacts when it comes to the performance of a big-name New York player . . .

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)
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.