Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter

The new Angels lineup

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The guess here is that Mike Scioscia is going do a lot of scratching out starting nines on the back of napkins over the next couple of months.

Here’s the Angels’ current top 11, along with their 2011 numbers and all the positions they could see action at.

Chris Iannetta: .238/.370/.414, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 6 SB in 345 AB – C
Albert Pujols: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB in 579 AB – 1B
Mark Trumbo: .254/.291/.477, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 9 SB in 539 AB – 1B, LF, RF, 3B
Howie Kendrick: .285/.338/.464, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB in 537 AB – 2B, 1B, LF, RF
Alberto Callaspo: .288/.366/.375, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 8 SB in 475 AB – 3B, 2B
Erick Aybar: .279/.322/.421, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 30 SB in 556 AB – SS
Maicer Izturis: .276/.334/.388, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 9 SB in 449 AB – 3B, SS, 2B
Vernon Wells: .218/.248/.412, 25 HR, 66 RBI, 9 SB in 505 AB – LF, CF
Peter Bourjos: .271/.327/.438, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 22 SB in 502 AB – CF
Torii Hunter: .262/.336/.429, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 5 SB in 580 AB – RF
Bobby Abreu: .253/.353/.365, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 21 SB in 502 AB – LF, RF

I’m excluding Kendrys Morales, who will likely be non-tendered, and Mike Trout, who figures to begin the season in Triple-A. It should shock no one, though, is Trout is the Angels’ second-best hitter come September.

I find the group pretty fascinating, because outside of Pujols hitting third or fourth, pretty much everyone else can be moved around at will. No one in the whole group has to be penciled into the eighth or ninth spot right from the start. Aybar, Bourjos and Izturis are all perfectly reasonable leadoff options. Callaspo, Kendrick and Abreu can hit second. Hunter and Kendrick would seem to be the best options to bat behind Pujols, barring a big turnaround from Wells.

Obviously, it’s still not an ideal lineup. The Angels would be a lot better off if they could take Abreu’s $9 million and give it to a left-handed-hitting power guy like switch-hitter Carlos Beltran, Carlos Pena or Jason Kubel. But it is interesting. If it were my call, I’d probably start the season like this:

1. Bourjos
2. Callaspo
3. Abreu
4. Pujols
5. Kendrick
6. Hunter
7. Iannetta
8. Wells
9. Aybar

Scioscia, though, will probably go with something more like:

1. Aybar
2. Abreu
3. Kendrick
4. Pujols
5. Hunter
6. Wells
7. Callaspo
8. Iannetta
9. Bourjos

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.