Cubs closer Kevin Gregg went on a tirade in front of the media following this afternoon’s loss at the hands of the Braves at Wrigley Field. Gregg entered the top of the ninth to protect a 5-5 tie, but surrendered four runs in the inning en route to a 9-5 loss. After the game, he expressed displeasure that the Cubs were considering replacing him as closer in 2014, according to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday, on ESPN Insider, Joe Kaiser reported that the Cubs were giving Pedro Strop a look in the closer’s role just to see what they had. Manager Dale Sveum was very complimentary of Gregg, who entered today’s game with a 2.90 ERA and 32 saves. Sveum said, “God knows where we’d be without him”.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was not happy that Gregg publicized his complaints. The two had a meeting in Epstein’s office and Gregg apologized, but Epstein is still considering releasing him. Epstein will “sleep on it“.
The Cubs signed Gregg to a Minor League contract in April after the Dodgers released him. Incidentally, Gregg earned a $500,000 performance bonus for reaching his 50th finished game of the season, reports CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.