Scott Kazmir pitching

Scott Kazmir throws for scouts, looks pretty good

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Scott Kazmir threw a B game this morning here in Goodyear. On hand were scouts from multiple teams including the Rangers, Cubs, Brewers and Padres. Terry Francona and multiple Indians officials came out to the back field to watch as well.

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The results: with the GIGANTIC caveat that I’m no scout, I’d say he looked pretty good. His fastball was sitting in the low 90s, mostly at 91-92.  The purpose of the game, however, was for him to work on breaking and offspeed stuff. Like, Kazmir specifically asked for the game for that reason. As far as that goes, he did seem to have a bit of trouble locating his breaking stuff early, but he was getting a lot of swings and misses, striking out four of the first six batters he faced, three of them swinging.

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As Kazmir was winding down I talked to one of the scouts. He thought Kazmir looked good and agreed with me that his velocity was nice, especially compared to where he was a year or two ago. As for the breaking stuff: yes, some issues with location, but the scout liked the deception. Especially his slider, which really had nice movement. And obviously deception is the name of the game.

All told, I think this was a good outing for Kazmir. Whether that means he gets a job on the Indians or becomes trade bait isn’t clear, but given where he was not too long ago, it was a pretty encouraging morning.

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.