For once, I stepped away from my computer yesterday (to play with my new dog — yay!) and, of course, that’s when Kevin Gregg decided to go all Brenda Walsh on the Cubs, leading to a stern rebuke from
Mr. Belding Theo. Then Gregg had to apologize, but Theo was still mad, and, in the end, everyone felt like they had been personally victimized by Regina George. But let me back up. Here’s how it all went down.
Sveum said on Thursday that management’s decision to go with the right-hander Strop in save situations over the final few games was not a reflection on Gregg’s performance. Gregg is a free agent after this season and Strop will enter his first year of arbitration eligibility.
“Kevin’s done far and above the call of duty,” Sveum told MLB.com. “He’s done one heck of a job. It’s going to be an opportunity [for Strop]. We want to see what he does in that role. Kevin has been one of the better closers in all of baseball. God knows where we’d be without him.”
“With what I’ve done this year and things that were accomplished, for an organization to come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in a different direction,’ a little professional courtesy would have been nice,” Gregg said. “… I think that shows me that they’re not that interested in me coming back here. I’ll worry about next year next year, but it gives me a good indication of their thoughts going forward.”
Despite that fact that he only signed a one-year deal and it was ALWAYS likely the Cubs were going to go in another direction in 2014, Kevin Gregg was so traumatized by Dale’s words that it interfered with his ability to pitch. See, e.g., Friday’s 9th inning:
The right-hander — who came into Friday’s game against the Braves with 32 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 59 appearances — said it played a role in him giving up four ninth-inning runs that lifted the Braves over the Cubs, 9-5, in the opener of a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
Chicago erased a four-run deficit after starter Scott Baker was roughed up for five runs in four innings, but Gregg was hit hard in the decisive frame, giving up two-out RBI singles by Brian McCann and Chris Johnson, as well as a two-run double by Andrelton Simmons to put the game out of reach as the Braves reduced their magic number to clinch the National League East to one.
“It didn’t unfold the way I wanted,” Gregg said. “I was probably trying a little too hard with what they’ve told me over the last couple of days [about the bullpen situation]. It makes it difficult to play this game anyway, let alone knowing what [the organization] thinks.”
I’m so glad that at least we have an EXPLANATION for Gregg’s blown save. I mean, imagine what it would have been like if he’d blown a save without explanation. Crazy. Anyway,
Mr. Belding Theo wasn’t too thrilled with Groggles’ comments, so he called him down to the office for detention a stern talking to.
“Apparently Kevin misunderstood Dale and thought he was having his job permanently taken away, despite getting the ball in the closer’s role the last couple of days,” Epstein told the Tribune. “He apparently had some choice words. … Upon hearing that, I called him up to Dale’s office to tell him how disappointed I was with him, given the way we’ve treated him this year. You know, bringing him back … and showing faith in him and the great job he has done for us this year.”
Epstein added that he would sleep on it, but he would consider releasing Gregg.
“It took him a couple of minutes to understand he misunderstood Dale and he apologized to me and to Dale,” Epstein said. “I told him I would sleep on it and decide whether we would have any disciplinary action … let him know if he was released [Saturday] morning.”
To try to bolster his chances of staying with the team for 8 more days, Groggles trudged up the steps to the pressbox, unbidden, and apologized to the media. Or something. First, there was this:
“For an organization to just come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go a different direction …’ You know, professional courtesy would have been nice,” Gregg said after the game.
I know Groggles isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree, but I’m pretty sure Sveum’s comments WERE the professional courtesy.
“[Epstein and Sveum] clarified things and I was able to cool off a little bit,” he told the Tribune. “It helped to be able to talk to them and see what they actually are thinking. They want to get a look at Pedro, but they are not going to take anything [away] from me, either. They wanted to work together to see what this future holds for the organization with him and myself. I am OK with that. I like that idea.”
Saturday morning, Wrigley Field Clubhouse, 9:05 am. (chung chung!)
On Saturday, however, the Cubs announced that Epstein had accepted Gregg’s apology and the closer would not be released.
And, just like that, the most fun we’ve had all season is over. Gregg gets the professional courtesy of staying with the team for 8 more days before they catapult his ass into free agency, Strop will get the ball in save situations, and we’ll go back to really boring baseball. It was fun while it lasted.
One more tidbit this morning, this time on the firestorm surrounding Dale Sveum’s future with the team. I was told this morning that the Cubs are somewhat disappointed with Sveum, especially his handling of the kids. And while Theo and Jed will keep all their options open in an off-season that will have a veritiable cornucopia of unemployed managers on the market, there are no current plans to replace Sveum.
Cubs and Braves are back at Wrigley today at 3:05 pm CT on WGN.