The Chicago Cubs started the 2013 season with Carlos Marmol as their closer, but a series of unfortunate circumstances led them to bring in Kevin Gregg on a minor league deal back in April to help fill the void. Gregg had an outstanding start to the season, taking over the Cubs’ closer role and never looked back.
Gregg was solid for a majority of the season as he saved 32 games in 37 chances for the Cubs with a 3.45 ERA. These numbers have continually gotten worse as Gregg has not pitched as well later in the season. Also, his 7.5 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 leave plenty to be desired from a closer, and make me wonder whether he was a little bit lucky this season.
Regardless, the 35-year-old Gregg was obviously a one year stopgap as the rebuilding Cubs will look to give a younger option a shot to close next season.
Gregg took the loss on Friday against the Atlanta Braves as he gave up four runs in a tie game in the top of the ninth. After the game, Gregg was clearly upset about the report that the Cubs will give Pedro Strop an opportunity to close for the rest of the season as they evaluate him as a possible closer for 2014.
“With what I’ve done this year and the things I’ve accomplished, for an organization to come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in another direction … A little professional courtesy would’ve been nice.” Gregg told reporters after the game. ”
Cubs’ president Theo Epstein later told reporters that he was disappointed in Gregg’s words. The (former?) closer went on to apologize, and Epstein later said that disciplinary action was possible. Rumors then surfaced that the Cubs were going to release Gregg because of his tirade.
Personally, I doubt that this goes that far. Epstein is a smart man and will not want to ruin future free agent opportunities because he overreacted to this situation. Gregg has apologized, and it is probably just best to move on from this situation.
I think that Gregg was very out of line here. I understand his frustration. I am sure a lot of Cubs’ players are frustrated after another long losing season, but the team is just doing what is best for the future of the organization. Gregg’s success this season may have been a bit of an anomaly, and the team obviously is not willing to bring him back to close in 2014.
The Cubs will look to younger options that they already have under control, and Strop is the first candidate. They might as well get an early look on him.
Before this locker room fiasco, I think Gregg would have gotten a major league deal this offseason. Probably not to close, but somebody would have given him a guaranteed roster spot to pitch in middle relief. Now, I am not so sure. Gregg may have to go the minor league contract route once again. Maybe next time, he will think twice before calling his bosses unprofessional.