Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer a first-time All-Star at age 32

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I can’t summon up a lot of angst about this one.  No, Michael Cuddyer isn’t one of the AL’s top 10 outfielders.  One could argue about whether he’s in the top 20.  Still, I think every guy who sticks around as a nice regular for 12-15 years should get to experience an All-Star selection once.

Cuddyer, a free agent-to-be, is in his 11th season and very possibly his final season with the Twins.  He’s been a regular the last eight of them, hitting as many as 32 homers and driving in as many as 109 runs.  Along the way, he’s played whatever posititon the team has asked for him.  He was drafted as a shortstop, converted to third base and established himself as a full-time right fielder in the majors, only to return to the infield at both second and third when needed the last couple of years.

This season, Cuddyer shook off a positively horrible start — he went 16 straight games without an RBI to begin the season — to rebound to .286/.356/.459 with 11 homers and 32 RBI.  The .815 OPS ranks him eighth among AL outfielders.

In the end, Cuddyer is likely only in this position because Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau got hurt.  Also, a healthy Denard Span would have been a better choice for the AL roster.  Based on 2011 play alone, I’d rather have seen the AL team carry Alex Gordon in the outfield and then Scott Baker over Aaron Crow, leaving the Twins and Royals with their one rep apiece.

But I’m not upset over Cuddyer’s pick.  It’s a nice reward for a guy in the midst of a fine career who may never have such an opportunity again.

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.