Sandy Alderson Citi Field

Sandy Alderson doesn’t understand why people pay attention to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo

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Bewildered Sandy Alderson is bewildered:

So the new GM conceded he is bewildered by the attention fans and the media have heaped on the second base and lefty specialist competitions – and the two least popular entrants.

“It’s a little odd,” Alderson said. “I think it does distract one from taking a look at the team as a whole and having a more balanced view of the team as a whole. It’s easy to focus in on a couple of negatives and kind of ride that into the ground.”

In his defense, Alderson used to be the GM for a team that didn’t exactly set the world afire in terms of rabid fan interest and, even in the rare years it did have big payrolls, it didn’t have any giant bust contracts to speak of.  The rest of us, however, are pretty well acquainted with just how frustrating it is when big free agent signings crater, and how it’s even worse when the team isn’t playing well overall.  We tend to talk about that stuff.

And really, Sandy, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If it wasn’t for the Perez and Castillo contracts, there’s a decent chance you’re still working for Bud Selig in the Commissioner’s Office.

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.