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Elvis Andrus: “If Pujols doesn’t chase, give him first base”

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Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has a revolutionary idea for the Texas pitching staff: whenever Albert Pujols steps to the plate for the remainder of the World Series, either keep all pitches out of the strike zone or simply give him a free, intentional pass.

Via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:

“We cannot take chances on Pujols,” Andrus said after Saturday’s 16-7 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals. “Everybody knows how good he is. We’ve got to execute pitches. If he doesn’t chase, give him first base. We’d rather see Matt Holliday beat us than Pujols. You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”

It’s the kind of thing you hear TV analysts suggest often, but is it really a smart strategy? And will it actually stymie the Cards’ attack?

Holliday went 1-for-5 in Game 3 Saturday and is just 2-for-11 through the first three games of this Fall Classic. But he’s also batting .326/.420/.465 across 50 plate appearances this postseason and carries a .929 career OPS. The guy is a monster. Behind him is Lance Berkman, with a career .954 OPS. And right behind Berkman is David Freese, the hottest overall hitter in these 2011 playoffs.

Walking Pujols at every turn might make sense on the surface, but the St. Louis lineup is deep enough to make the Rangers pay dearly. If Ron Washington is going to employ Andrus’ strategy, he’ll have to pick and choose his spots. Feeding the Cardinals free base runners will only lead to trouble.

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.