Ruben Amaro, Jr Ryne Sandberg

Charlie Manuel will be back, but Ryne Sandberg waits in the wings

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Jon Heyman has a news nugget in his latest column — Charlie Manuel will, in fact, be back at the helm in Philly next year — but I don’t think anyone ever doubted that.  If they did, the recent run has put any such thoughts to rest, or should have.  Say what you want about the 2012 Phillies, but if they fall short of the playoffs, it’s not Charlie Manuel’s fault.

The article is more interesting for the Ryne Sandberg talk.  It comes up each year, but this year it’s earlier than usual: when is Ryne Sandberg going to get his shot at managing?

Heyman says that Sandberg is so well-liked in the Phillies front office that some people even thought that, rather than extend Manuel’s contract into 2013, they should have just given the job to Sandberg.  Ruben Amaro shoots that down hard, but it’s no secret that Heyman knows people in the Philly front office. He tends to get scoops there.

In any event, yeah, it would seem that Sandberg is up next in Philly.  I’d just not expect to hear anything more about it than what Heyman has to say, because baseball has a really bad history with heir apparent managers.  Ray Knight in Cincinnati is one. The Yankees naming Billy Martin Bob Lemon’s successor mere days after Martin was fired in 1978 was another.

Baseball is a lot like the late night talk show business. You just can’t have a well-run operation with the next guy obviously and officially waiting in the wings to take over.

UPDATE: People are telling Will Carroll this too, by the way. From his Monday column:

Word out of Philly is that Charlie Manuel will retire after next season. Ryne Sandberg may shift to bench coach in order to make an easy transition …

 

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)
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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.