Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

kevin gregg cubsIt’s been a particularly newsy 24 hours for the late-September Cubs, and I will be getting to all of it in due time. Thanks in part to a wedding today, and in part to the horrifically spotty Internet service where we are, a portion of the items to discuss (mostly the Dale Sveum/Joe Girardi stuff) will be saved for tomorrow or Monday.

  • Kevin Gregg had a bad day yesterday. After serving up four runs in the 9th to the Braves, Gregg met with the media and let loose with some thoughts that apparently had been percolating below the surface during his ugly performance. Sahadev Sharma has a pretty good blow-by-blow account on his Twitter feed, but the gist is: Gregg misunderstood when Dale Sveum told him the Cubs were going to give Pedro Strop a look in the closer’s role over the final couple weeks (Gregg thought he was losing his job permanently). Gregg had a terrible outing and says the closing change affected him out there on the mound (“For an organization to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in another direction.’ A little professional courtesy would’ve been nice.”). Theo Epstein hears about Gregg grousing to the media and immediately calls Gregg in for a meeting. Epstein clarifies to the media that Gregg misunderstood what Sveum had said, and indicates that he’s pretty upset with Gregg taking this to the media. There remains a possibility that Gregg will be released today.
  • You can see more of Gregg’s comments here.
  • The part about Gregg’s rant – well, ok, one part – that I don’t understand is how he thought it was a good idea to tell the world that being upset about his role going forward caused him to implode on the mound. That’s not going to help him in free agency, and only underscores the Cubs’ apparent position (in his mind at the time) that he isn’t a long-term closing option. (To say nothing of whether the Cubs were otherwise interested in bringing him back in a non-closing role. I’d say that’s pretty much out the window now.)

  • Yesterday, Gregg finished his 50th game with the Cubs, triggering a $500,000 bonus, per Patrick Mooney (you can’t tie bonuses to things like actual performance (i.e., total saves), so “games finished” is used as a proxy – but you “finish” a game, even if you blow a tie game and your team loses before another pitcher comes in). If the Cubs were going to be shady jerks, they would have pulled him from the closer’s job a week ago, and saved themselves $500,000. Doing so would have been entirely consistent with the idea that they are planning for the future, and want to give other guys – who are already under contract for next year – a look in the closer’s role. The Cubs did not do that, and did right by Gregg. Whatever happened with the miscommunication should have been secondary.
  • Unsurprisingly, Welington Castillo’s season is over (there’s only a handful of games left anyway) after an MRI revealed that the “sharp pain” in his knee was a partially torn meniscus. He’ll have a scope performed, and will be out of baseball action for four to six weeks. It’s a painful injury (I’ve done it), but it’s not one that you can’t come back from, even as a catcher. He’ll rest up in the offseason, and should be good to go next year.
  • Thoughts from Jason McLeod on a handful of Cubs prospects. One interesting bit? McLeod suggested that the infield at Iowa next year could feature Javier Baez at shortstop, Arismendy Alcantara at second, and Christian Villanueva at third. That last one is the interesting one. Villanueva is a legitimate prospect who put together a solid year at AA, so moving up to AAA and starting at third makes a ton of sense. But what happens to Mike Olt? Sure, if the Cubs don’t pick up a third baseman in the offseason, he’ll get a shot to make the big club … but what if he doesn’t? Olt’s bat circa 2012 would play a number of places outside of third base, but if he’s not going to be a great bat going forward, then he’s going to need to be a great glove at third base (which he was at one time). It’ll be interesting to see how this glut is worked out. The Cubs have already said that Josh Vitters is moving to the outfield. And then there’s Kris Bryant, who could be pushing for a spot in AAA within a couple months at AA next year.

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