Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence wants to lead off for the Giants

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The Giants will go with a new lead-off hitter tomorrow. Since losing Angel Pagan to a strained left hamstring, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have shared responsibilities at the top of the batting order. CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly suggests the new lead-off man will be Marco Scutaro, but also mentioned this:

There are few players I’d like less to lead off than Hunter Pence. He ranks 49th out of 64 batters in pitches seen per plate appearance, according to ESPN. Pence himself admitted to being an “aggressive swinger”. A good lead-off hitter is patient and tries to see as many pitches as possible to his teammates have an early idea what the pitcher has and how well it is working on that particular day. Additionally, a good lead-off hitter gets on base frequently, and that isn’t Pence’s forte as his on-base percentage ranks fifth out of eight Giants with enough plate appearances to qualify. It also happens that Pence has arguably been the Giants’ second-best hitter overall behind Buster Posey, making them an obvious combination in the middle of the lineup.

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.