Mike Butcher, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Iannetta

Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher is on the hot seat

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Craig Calcaterra wrote yesterday about how manager Mike Scioscia’s job is probably safe despite the Angels’ recent struggles, but the same isn’t necessarily true about pitching coach Mike Butcher.

For one thing coaches tend to get the ax first–hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was fired in May–especially when the manager involved has been with the team for such a long time. And for another thing the Angels’ pitching staff has mostly been a mess.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times asked Butcher about fan criticism and the perception his job could be in jeopardy, and Butcher replied:

I’m not going to defend my job, because I know how good I am. I know what I bring to the table every day. I know I get these guys prepared. They work every day. Nothing is going to change the way I go about preparing the guys.

I’m always looking to improve, but as far as worrying about myself? I’m not. These last few weeks have been rough. We’re not pitching to our capabilities. Obviously, it shows. It’s never been about me when things are going good. When things go bad, you take it personal.

Scioscia also stuck up for Butcher, who’s been his pitching coach since 2006.

Before the All-Star break the Angels had the second-best ERA in the American League at 3.61, but since the All-Star break their staff ERA is a league-worst 5.58.

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.