Jonny Gomes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino

The Red Sox beards are magical or something

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I’ve noticed the Red Sox’ beards for a while now. Haven’t said much about them because I was waiting to see if there was some higher purpose to them beyond team bonding and image-crafting. Maybe some charitable thing? Maybe solidarity with a friend or fan suffering from some illness? I don’t know. Stuff happens and you don’t want to mock things if there is a deeper story behind it.

Nope. No deeper story. John Tomase of the Boston Herald talked about the beards yesterday, and it’s just about team bonding and image crafting. Jonny Gomes says it like this: “We have the beards. It’s not surprising at all that winning teams have some kind of quirky chemistry.” Then Tomase takes it here:

In the wake of 2012’s natural disaster, the Red Sox replaced half their roster. They jettisoned the dour, know-it-all Adrian Gonzalez and the overwhelmed Carl Crawford and imported half a dozen veterans who knew how to win, and who not only weren’t afraid of the pressure of playing in Boston, but wanted to be there.

Thus Gomes.

Who, yes, has been a nice addition. And it’s certainly the case that the Red Sox have been a fantastic team this year thanks in part to all sorts of good moves and good fortune in the form of players getting healthy. Where would this team be without Clay Buchholz and John Lackey? Where would it be without a healthy Dustin Pedroia? How great a pickup has Shane Victorino been? There is all sorts of praise to be thrown around.

But I guess it’s not enough to praise the moves of the front office and the execution of the players and their new manager. We have to go through “get players who know how to win” stuff. But of course Tomase is right. Just look how bad off that Dodgers team is with Gonzalez and Crawford. They’ve infected the whole bunch!

Or maybe winning is about more than one, easily identifiable thing like beards and losing is about more than one easily identifiable thing like “dour, know-it-all” attitudes.

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.