How many wins have the Red Sox' injuries cost them?

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A lot of people are playing the “what if” game with respect to the Red Sox lately, mostly in terms of “what if they didn’t have all those damn injuries.” Would they be in the thick of the AL East right now instead of hanging by a thread? In the lead? How bad has the injury bug really harmed their status as contenders?

ESPN’s (and Baseball Think Factory’s!) Dan Szymborski figured that rather than just talking it up and down all day like some sports radio goon that he’d try to figure it out.  Over at the WWL today (sorry, Insider only), he does his best to break out the difference in performance between the expected starters and the dudes who have replaced them in 2010.

The verdict: while acknowledging that there’s all kinds of alchemy and magic and unexpected and unintended consequences when imperfect human beings are your variables, Dan figures the replacements have cost the Sox about four wins.  That would have them closer, sure, but not quite as high up the standings as some people in Boston probably believe.

Neat exercise, though, so if you have Insider, by all means, check it out.

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.