Oh, fabulous: the Braves get Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth

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Not content to acquire an awful player from the Royals at the deadline, the Braves got two!  Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.  In exchange, the Braves give up reliever Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and prospect Tim Collins, who just came over from the Blue Jays in the Yunel Escobar deal.

[composing myself]

Ankiel hasn’t been particularly useful for over two years and he’s been hurt most of this year. He has played a lot of centerfield but he’s not good enough to be a centerfielder anymore, if indeed he ever truly was.  He has some pop, but he doesn’t know how to get on base and hasn’t hit for average basically ever.  You’ll recall that his pitching career effectively ended when he went all Steve Blass on the Braves in the 2000 NLDS.  I guess Atlanta was forced to trade for him eventually on a “you broke it, you bought it” theory.

I called him terrible, but that’s not fair: Kyle Farnsworth has actually been good this year. A 2.42 ERA and he’s been walking far fewer battersand giving up fewer homers this year than he ever has. I won’t say he’s gotten smarter, but maybe he’s gained a certain kind of wisdom over the past year or so. Or maybe he’s just been lucky. It’s worth noting that this is his second stint with Atlanta, and his first stint — back in 2005 — was highly successful.

Chavez is a tomato can, so good riddance to him.  Blanco has been nothing more than a fill-in for Atlanta and never will be much more than that. He really doesn’t have any place in Kansas City either, unless of course the Royals are looking for new and exciting ways to block Alex Gordon.  Losing Tim Collins irks me. He is an utter monster strikeout machine and I think he could be pretty good as a major league reliever. He’s short, though, and apparently every general manager is obligated to discount the performances of short pitchers due to some blood oath.  I don’t get it.

Ultimately the Braves get an outfielder — which they needed — but not necessarily a good one (update: intellectual honesty compels me to admit that, yes, Ankiel is probably a better option than running Melky out there every night).  The interesting thing will be seeing whether the Braves still think Ankiel can play center (he can’t) or if they’ll play him in right and put Jason Heyward in center (better, but it scares me). 

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.