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Roy Halladay endorses Cole Hamels as Opening Day starter

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I get the sense that there is some sort of controversy about Roy Halladay not being the Opening Day starter for the Phillies. Not that anyone is arguing he should, really, but that there is some sort of kabuki theater dance going on in which the Phillies are trying to finesse the idea that he’s not as though people will argue it later. Saying things like “you gotta split up the lefties in the rotation” when that’s actually a pretty silly justification.

Whatever is going on there — be it actual concern or concern about potential concern — Roy Halladay himself has no concern about it at all. From Jim Salisbury, here’s Halladay talking about Cole Hamels as the Opening Day starter:

“He deserves that and I think that’s the way it should be. It’s his time. It should have been his spot a long time ago. It’s time for him to establish himself as the head of the staff.”

What, you were expecting him to be a diva or something? He’s Roy freakin’ Halladay. He’s probably the closest thing baseball has to Dr. Manhattan from “Watchmen.” The petty concerns of mortals — or in this case, sports gabbers — really don’t concern him.  He’ll be on Mars building new civilizations if you need him.

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.