Cardinals released Felipe Lopez because they were sick of him showing up late for games

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Yesterday the Cardinals sent Felipe Lopez home, releasing the 30-year-old veteran with two weeks remaining on his $1 million contract. The initial spin was that they made the move to create playing time for younger players, but general manager John Mozeliak later admitted that Lopez showing up late for Monday’s game was the final straw:

He was late, and it was not the first time. When you think about what we’re trying to accomplish here, we brought up a lot of young players with our September call-ups, and we wanted to make sure they understand the message we want heard. It really came down to a tipping point and it was either just not play him or allow him to go home.

It was one thing, I think, the coaching staff had been very tolerant of, and they came to a point where they’d had enough. Obviously with two weeks left in the season you would prefer not to have to make these kind of decisions or react in this way, but I understand why we did it. I think it really sends a strong message to the younger players on what our expectations are.

I agree completely with Mozeliak. Lopez certainly isn’t the first chronically tardy baseball player, but when you’re a 30-year-old backup infielder hitting .231 with a .651 OPS showing up late gets you fired. And it should.

Tony La Russa identified himself as Lopez’s “biggest advocate” and was probably largely responsible for the Cardinals bringing him back for a second stint with the team, no doubt because he had fond memories of the .385 batting average he produced over 43 games in 2008. However, even the manager decided he’d had enough of Lopez:

He’s healthy. He’s just not going to get starts and not going to come off the bench. He was told and he said, “OK.” There was no reason for him to be around. He’s had a tough year.

Between his terrible season at the plate, always shaky glove, and ugly exit from St. Louis my guess is that Lopez may have a difficult time securing more than a minor-league contract this offseason.

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.