Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves

Chipper Jones is either feeling fantastic or has his priorities out of order

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If Chipper Jones’ swan song season has been characterized by any one thing, it’s been characterized by caution and pain.  He has felt a lot of pain — mostly in those nearly non-existent knees — so he and the Braves have exercised caution. He has sat out often, rarely playing a string of more than four days in a row without a break, and often not even that many.

It’s been a good plan, too. Jones has missed time, yes, but not extended time, and he has been outrageously productive for a man of his age and physical state. Far from playing out the string, he has been a key force in the Braves offense all year.

Which makes his tweet today somewhat curious:

 

This week — through the weekend — is his last regular season homestand with the Braves, so it makes sense that he wants to go out in style, on the field, saying goodbye to Braves fans.  But it’s also something that should give Braves fans pause.

Starting with tomorrow’s game, the Braves play six home games in a row without a day off. It would seem that he’s playing in all of them, as five of them are “this week” and it seems highly unlikely that he wouldn’t play next Sunday’s home finale  However, Chipper has played on six days in a row exactly once this season, from September 7th through the 12th. And actually in one of those games he did not start, coming in late to pinch hit on September ninth (though he did stay in for one more plate appearance as the game went into extra innings). Joes has played on five straight days three other times this season.

This last week seems to be the lowest leverage week of the year for Atlanta. They have all but clinched their post season birth. The playoffs are in the offing.  Maybe I’m fretting because of my Braves fandom, but it seems to me that, rather than play every single day this week, now would be an excellent time to get Jones some extra rest for that last push to the World Series.

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.