As the 2013 Cubs season lurches toward a conclusion, we now have a controversy between the President of Baseball Operations and a Cubs pitcher to add to the rest of the sad tale of this misbegotten campaign.
Just what we needed, right?
The details are all in here, but the summation of the story is, essentially:
- Dale Sveum says Pedro Strop will close games for the rest of the year
- Kevin Gregg takes exception, says he "should have been treated better"
- Management says it was a "misunderstanding", that both Gregg and Strop will close games (that is, if there are any save opportunities, not guaranteed by any means)
- Gregg rants to the media
- Theo Epstein tells Gregg he's "disappointed" in Gregg's rant
- Epstein says he might release Gregg Saturday morning
- Gregg apologizes to Epstein, and
- Gregg makes a postgame visit to the Wrigley Field press box to explain himself to the media
Only in Cubs land, right? We might not have gotten a championship from the managerial reign of Lou Piniella, but we got the phrase "Cubbie occurrence" from him, and that one might outlast everyone who's now associated with the franchise.
The thing that really got me was this quote from Theo:
"It took him a couple of minutes to understand he misunderstood Dale, and he apologized to me and to Dale. 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."
Really, Theo? Really? A pitcher who's going to be a free agent in eight games, who hasn't pitched well in the second half (5.20 ERA in 27 appearances since July 14), and who wasn't likely to be back anyway, and you're going to release him in a fit of pique? That sounds like me in one of my rants about Carlos Zambrano after one of his multiple meltdowns. But I'm simply a writer and Theo, you're a baseball executive. You should know better.
I'm assuming calmer heads will prevail and everyone will kiss and make up and Gregg will remain on the roster for the final eight games of the season, though, as noted above, it's not likely that either Gregg or Strop will even sniff a save opportunity the rest of the year.
There's one more Theo comment, unrelated to Friday's brouhaha, that bears some reading between the lines; it involves Dale Sveum and Theo's ongoing "evaluation" of the coaching staff:
"And it will be resolved quickly after this season. I am proud of a lot of what Dale and his staff have accomplished with the big league team in certain areas." Sveum — a baseball lifer as a player, coach and manager — said he understands. "I’ve been around the game for a long time and I have been on all kinds of different sides of it," Sveum said. "You know how it all works. Going in, you know it. That’s part of it."
Sounds to me like we're going to have a new manager in 2014. I have nothing more than reading what's out there and a hunch, but I'm thinking it's going to happen.