Great Moments in trash talking

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The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen relished spending Christmas in New Jersey because he could use the time to taunt his Yankees-fan relatives:

As the snow and the wind got worse, all the people from North Jersey who were supposed to come for dinner wimped out. They called to cancel. Of course, they cited the weather. We knew better. They weren’t about to drive a couple of hours down the Jersey Turnpike in whiteout conditions to listen to some jerk from Boston talk about how great the Red Sox were going to be, how great the Patriots are, how there is no other city in America that could run the table in 2011: football, basketball, hockey, baseball. We could win ’em all. No other city can even come close to saying that.

I sometimes chafe at the unrelenting passive-aggressive tendencies of Midwesterners. I long for people in my neck of the woods to be a little more open with their feelings and let things out rather than have everyone smiling politely at everyone else while they secretly seethe. But then I realize, hey, at least there’s a passive component of passive-aggressiveness. And no one ruins Christmas dinner with this kind of silliness.

Anyway, between the offseason the Red Sox are having and the offseason the Phillies are having, this is shaping up to be one of the loudest and most boastful springs in living memory.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.