Kevin Gregg, David Ortiz, Marco Scutaro, Derrek Lee

Kevin Gregg is fired up (and maybe a bit of an idiot)


So, Kevin Gregg, who couldn’t hit David Ortiz with a pitch Friday no matter how hard he tried, took to the offensive after the game.

Gregg pretty much admitted he was trying to send the Red Sox a message with the inside fastballs to Ortiz in the eighth inning tonight.  It was obvious he was trying to drill Boston’s DH, preferably in the thigh or buttocks from the look of things, but he missed him each time.

You know what happened then.  The benches cleared after the third pitch.  After order was restored, Gregg threw a fastball over the plate that Ortiz popped up to right-center.  Gregg motioned and jawed for Ortiz to run to first as soon the ball left the bat.  Ortiz took exception, mayhem ensued and both players were ejected.

Said Gregg afterwards:

It is 3-0, they are up seven, and I think there are some ethics to this game and guidelines that you have to stay within. Run. You hit a lazy fly ball, you have to run the bases. And apparently, he didn’t like me telling him that stuff and he came out there. If he thinks there’s something wrong with me saying that, then he has other things he has to check out in this game.

Well, of course Ortiz didn’t like him saying that.  Particularly given the fact that Ortiz was running.  He didn’t stand around after the popup.  He started trotting to first just like he would have hitting a similar fly under typical circumstances.

Gregg wasn’t done, though:

They are going to whine and complain about it because they think they are better than anybody else, but we have just as much right to pitch inside. “You get tired of going out there and getting your butt kicked when you come in here you have to stick up for what is ours.

“I think we showed them we are not backing down. We are not scared of them and their $180 million dollar payroll. We are here to play the game, and we have every right to play the game and do everything we can to win.”

No, the Orioles weren’t there to play the game.   Their pitching was terrible for the second straight game, their pitching was non-existent and they lost 10-3 after dropping Thursday night’s game 10-4.  They’re now 1-7 this month.

The Orioles couldn’t beat the Red Sox on the field, so Gregg took matters into his own hands instead.  And he failed miserably because he couldn’t even make the statement he wanted to by drilling Ortiz.

But at least Gregg can take solace in the fact that his actions contributed to the five-game suspension Ortiz seems sure to receive.  If the Orioles can’t beat the Red Sox themselves, they’ve at least made it a little easier for some other team to pick up a couple of W’s against them later this year.

Wait, what is the non-tender deadline again?

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For the next day and a half you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.

By midnight on Wednesday teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. Now, to be clear, the team is not simply “tendering” the player the actual contract specifying what he’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture — a placeholder contract — at that point the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2016 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.

If the team non-tenders a player, however, that player immediately becomes a free agent, eligible to sign anywhere with no strings attached.

Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2015, he’s probably going to be non-tendered.

MLB Trade Rumors has a handy “Non-Tender Tracker” which lists the status of the couple hundred arbitration eligible players and whether or not they’ve been tendered a contract. We’ll, of course, make mention of notable non-tender guys as their status for 2016 becomes known over the next day or two.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.