Piniella stepping down, Mike Quade taking over for Cubs

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Cubs manager Lou Piniella has had enough and is going to step down from his post as the team’s manager after Sunday’s series finale against the Braves.  This according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Third base coach Mike Quade will take over on an interim basis for the rest of 2010.

Piniella announced last month that he planned to retire at the conclusion of this season.  The Cubs have been nothing short of awful since he made that decision public, though, and ‘Sweet Lou’ no longer wants to handle the pain.  That, and his mother is in bad health and checking in on her would require travel days that Lou figured might distract the team.

There is going to be a big hunt for a new skipper this winter in Chicago and plenty of big names will be thrown around.  Sure, the Cubbies haven’t won a World Series in close to 102 years, but the glory of being the man that carries that fan base to the promised land is attractive beyond the multi-million dollar salary.  Ryne Sandberg, currently managing the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa, is expected to be a candidate.  Quade will also be considered, according to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.

Pineilla hoped to lead the Cubs and their massive following to the Fall Classic but did not succeed.  He currently stands 316-292 as manager of the Cubs with one game to play.  Lou led ’em to first place finishes in his first two seasons but never past the NLDS.

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.