Well, that was quick! And talk about revamping a starting pitching staff as the Brewers obtained Zack Greinke from the KC Royals! If the Cincinnati Reds had any thought of walking away with the NL Central division crown, their chances of winning it just got a lot harder! The Brewers immediately jump within the top candidates for the crown with this move and have surely made the noise required to make their fans believe they want to contend in 2011. They know that their window to win is closing quickly with the inevitable pending departure of Prince Fielder after the season, so they are going “all-in” to make sure that they give it their best shot.
The Jays do miss out on getting Zack on board, but I am not disappointed in the least if the price for his services was as advertised. But one has to wonder, was the price as “rumored”? Because as far as I’m concerned, the Royals got less than I expected in return for one of the top 10 arms in baseball.
Let’s review the deal as it is speculated to be at this point. Greinke just cost the Brewers their:
- SS of the future in Alcides Escobar, but a 24-year old with excellentdefensive abilities who had yet to prove he could hit consistently in the majors. He’s very young at 24, however, and should be able to grow with the prospects the Royals will bring up shortly. An eventual pairing of Escobar with 2010 draftee Christian Colon up-the-middle for the Royals does have a certain allure that should make the Royals much better for the long-term.
- The also got a possible 4-tool outfielder in Lorenzo Cain, a player who at the age of 24 lacks power, but who had an overall line of .317/.402/.432 in 2010 to go along with 26 SBs after only 331 plate appearances. He also did fairly well in the majors once he was called up. Cain was apparently set to be the #3 prospect on Baseball America’s Brewers list (I assume this would have been his ranking after the Brett Lawrie deal).
- Although the Royals got what they wanted in terms of middle-of-the-field help with Cain possibly manning CF and Escobar manning SS, you knew that they’d need some arms in the deal to make it worthwhile to deal Greinke. 20 year old Jake Odorizzi is the Brewers version of Kyle Drabek in what he was worth to the franchise, although a much less experienced version. His 135 Ks over 120 IP with a 1.152 whip in the MWL indicate his potential and he should be a safe bet to become a #3 starter at a minimum once he makes it to The Show. That’s a pretty good return pitching wise
- Then we add Jeremy Jeffress to the mix, a troubled guy who has had many off-field issues leading to suspensions, but who can also throw the ball at 100 MPH or above on some occasions. If the Royals can turn him around and help him find himself, as they did with Zack Greinke‘s anxiety issues and Alberto Callaspo‘s wife battery issues, they will have one great arm to work with. Jeffress got his first taste of the majors in 2010, striking out 8 over 10 IP and maintaining a great 2.17 ERA over those 10 appearances.
This offer does compare well to the one the Royals had been rumored to ask for from the Jays. I love the fact that Jays management didn’t give in, however, as I believe the price is too steep. Sure, you get 2 years of Greinke, but you just gave up one of the best defensive SS in the game, a possible #2 arm, a great lead-off candidate in Lorenzo Cain(someone the Royals will love to have hitting ahead of their young up-and-coming mashers) and a potential closer in Jeffress.
To compare it to what the Jays would have had to give up, it would have been similar to Kyle Drabek (Jake Odorizzi), Darin Mastroianni (Lorenzo Cain), Adeiny Hechavarria (Alcides Escobar), and Alan Farina (Jeremy Jeffress). I know that I wouldn’t make that deal, because I like 6 years of Kyle Drabekat an affordable rate a whole lot more than Greinke over 2 years with the inherent risk that he’ll implode under the AL East spotlight.
Having said that, he’s a perfect option for the Brewers who are in contention in 2011 and 2012. They can win now, so why not spend some to get Greinke on board? If it doesn’t work out, they can try to trade him at the 2012 trade deadline or pocket the 2 picks he will likely earn them if he leaves as a FA. As I said above, Prince Fielder is not going to be a Brewer much longer, so if you can appeal to the other guys on the team by making a strong playoff run in 2011, why wouldn’t you do it? I believe that if the Jays were in the same position, they may have pulled the trigger as well (particularly if Drabek was as young as Odorizzi).
I think it’s a good deal for the Brewers that provides a very good top of the rotation. I’m not yet certain what this will mean to the Jays in terms of moves, but it very well may spell the end of Alex Anthopolous trying to upgrade the pitching and to simply see what comes about when spring training begins or when the 2011 season in underway. There are no obvious avenues left to chase this off season in terms of starting pitchers, so it seems that our starting pitching options are fairly set in stone.
Good luck to Greinke and the Brewers, as I know this makes former Jay Shaun Marcum one happy camper to know that he’s now on a team that wants to win in 2011, not 2012 and beyond.