Breaking down the Greinke Trade

by JohnBowen

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers landed the highest trade commodity on the market by picking up 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke in exchange for a package of youngsters. The exact breakdown:

Brewers get:

Zack Greinke, RHP

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

2 Million Dollars

Royals get:

Jeremy Jeffress, RHP

Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Alcides Escobar, SS

Lorenzo Cain, OF

Here’s a quick glance at what the Brewers gave up:

Jeremy Jeffress pitched in 10 games last season in relief as a September call-up. It has been reported that he has hit 100 mph, though he didn’t do that in his brief stint in the big leagues. Nonetheless, it was considered very likely that Jeffress would start 2011 in the Brewer bullpen; there’s really no questioning his abilities but rather his will, as he was twice suspended for using marijuana.

Jake Odorizzi was considered the top pitching prospect in the Brewers’ organization. Born in 1990, the young pitcher sports fundamentally sound mechanics, a fastball that consistently hits about 95 mph along with power curveball that helped him strikeout 135 men in 120.2 innings pitched at Appleton (Low-A ball). His changeup could still use some work, but the Royals have reason to be excited about this acquisition – even if he suddenly becomes the #5 or so pitching prospect in the Royals’ system.

Alcides Escobar was the everyday shortstop for the Brewers last season. It was his first full season and he clearly showed off his defensive potential, making some jaw-dropping plays that made you ask “did that just happen?” And not just at his natural position – Escobar made a spectacular diving play in centerfield at Wrigley when the Brewers were short on outfielders; that’s just talent. He needs to develop patience to become a first-tier shortstop, and that goes multiple ways. He often rushed throws, making errors on what should have been routine plays in the field. At the plate, he drew just 36 walks in 552 PA; his .235/.288/.326 line looks horrendous (his 67 OPS+ was dead last in the National League among qualifiers), but his .264 BABIP suggests that he may have been unlucky, especially given that he had an above-average line-drive rate. He doesn’t have much power, but has a very high ceiling and is under team control through 2015, and given his spectacular defensive ability, will be a major upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt.

Lorenzo Cain is a tricky player to evaluate. At the end of last year, he was the leading contender to be the starting centerfielder for the Brewers since Carlos Gomez had struggled in his foray into the National League. Lorenzo Cain played very well in his quarter season as a Brewer, hitting .306 with 11 doubles in 43 games. After a very good 2008, in which he worked himself from High A-ball to AAA, Cain battled injuries in 2009 and struggled to the tune of a .214 average at AA Huntsville. In 2010, however, he .317/.402/.432 between AA and AAA before being promoted to the majors to essentially replace the disappointing Carlos Gomez. Cain has shown great speed on the base paths with 124 stolen bases in 584 minor league games. In his brief stint in The Show, he only had one homerun, but he showed very solid gap power which I think could prove useful at the doubles-friendly Kaufman Stadium. Will he hit .306 over his first full season in Kansas City? I doubt it – but he’s definitely Major League ready.

What the Brewers got is pretty obvious: Yuniesky Betancourt.

Okay, they also picked up a former Cy Young winner, but let’s focus on Betancourt for a second. At first glance, he seems like a major upgrade over Escobar, out-OPSing the new Royals shortstop by about 80 points. Betancourt’s 16 homeruns last season ranked third in the American League amongst shortstops, and while his 88 OPS+ leaves something to be desired, he plays shortstop and shortstops with about his numbers are apparently worth 17 million dollars a season. But that was a career season for him. In 2009, he was the worst hitter in the American League. He’s never had an OBP above .310, drawing 10 fewer walks in his 6 year career than Prince Fielder drew in 2010. Add to the fact that Betancourt’s defensive evaluations have ranged from below average to awful, factor in the fact that he’s pushing thirty, and you’re not looking at a great pick-up at shortstop. It’s no coincidence that the Brewers just one day after acquiring Betancourt; look for the two to platoon with Counsell seeing the majority of the action. With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and edit my summary of the trade.

Brewers get:

Zack Greinke, RHP

2 Million Dollars

Royals get:

Jeremy Jeffress, RHP

Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Alcides Escobar, SS

Lorenzo Cain, OF

Rid of Yunieksy Betancourt.

Remember that the 2 million dollars that the Brewers are getting are to buyout Betancourt’s 2012 option. But really, Dayton Moore saved the four million dollars he was going to have to spend on a player who will likely be worth less then replacement value.

And finally, we have Zack Greinke, the whole reason for the trade. After a historically great 2009 – in which he led the league with a 205 ERA+ and 1.073 WHIP in 229.1 innings pitched – Greinke slumped to a 100 ERA+ in 2010. Nonetheless, he did reach 220 innings pitched for the second straight year and ranked seventh in the American League in K/BB. The Brewers shouldn’t count on Greinke to repeat his dominance from 2009, but it is highly unlikely that he will struggle like he did this past year, especially against a weaker National League. His three year averages from 2008-2010 make this deal a slam dunk for Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin: 133 ERA+, 1.194 WHIP, 217 IP, 202 strikeouts. He instantly becomes the #1 starter on this staff, but more importantly, he replaces lefty Manny Parra (79 ERA+, 1.659 WHIP, 143 IP, 131 K strikeouts) in the starting rotation.

The Brewers have traded the bulk of their farm system to contend in 2011, which is a huge gamble no matter how you slice it. The Brewer offense scored ranked fourth in the National League in runs/game and 2nd in both homeruns and OPS+. Now they have a very good, very deep starting rotation that could elevate them to the level of Cincinnati and St. Louis. Sure, they finished 76-86 last year. But that was before they replaced two horrendous spots in the rotation (occupied by the likes of Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Doug Davis, Dave Bush, Marco Estrada and some others that just make me angry) with a pair of Opening Day starters (Greinke and Shaun Marcum from Toronto).

Debate me all you want, but don’t be surprised when Roll out the Barrel is sung during the World Series.

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29 Responses to “Breaking down the Greinke Trade”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Since Rickie Weeks wears #23 in Milwaukee, Greinke’s decided to wear #13.

    Greinke said two things in his informal presser in Milwaukee today which really surprised me.

    He said getting traded ranks up there with getting drafted and getting married as the most important events in his adult life.

    The other was he thought he was getting traded last year before the break and was so intent on leaving he stopped throwing his slider because he didn’t want to risk injury.

    I think Greinke will report to Spring Training in great shape both physically and mentally and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a repeat of 2009.

    For the Brewers to compete the key, for me, isn’t Greinke, but Marcum.

    First, I don’t like his delivery, I think he’s an injury waiting to happen.

    Second, I just don’t think he’s that good. He’s a solid number three at best, and any team that’s willing to bank it’s postseason chances on the BOTTOM of their rotation is asking for trouble.

  2. Raul Says:

    I think the Brewers just have to get there. Then at that point, Marcum becomes irrelevant.

    Teams ride 2 starters in the playoffs all the time. You have to think Gallardo and Greinke match up well against any 2 starters in the NL.

    Wainwright and Carpenter
    Halladay and Lee
    Lincecum and Cain
    Hudson and Hanson
    Jimenez and Chacin (maybe early on Chacin)

    Not saying Brewers have the edge, but I’d take it.

  3. Cameron Says:

    Quite frankly, Zack Greinke has somehow turned from the star of the Royals that I loved into this… Smarmy, insincere sack of shit that I just can’t help but hate. The dude stabbed the team in the back, talks horrible shit about them, and said he “wants to win” with a team that’s still got a shot at posting a losing record with him.

    He’s gone from being Jermaine Dye (unviersally loved in KC, shocked and disappointed at the news he was traded to Oakland) to Johnny Damon (talked bad shit about the team, demanding trades, intentionally underperforming, practically danced when he… Was traded to Oakland, weird coincidence). I know how Boston fans felt about Manny Ramirez now.

    Fuck Zack Greinke, I hope he blows his arm out in BP. …Or the roof collapses on him, heard it did that once, LOVE for it to happen again. It’s not THAT he got traded, it’s how he’s so fucking cavalier about it.

  4. Raul Says:

    I’m trying to think if there’s been a recent Yankee or Met that elicited that kind of hate from the fans.

    Can’t think of any.

    Then again, fans probably take it a lot more personal and serious when it’s a smaller city, and you’ve probably seen your favorite athletes at the local pub.

  5. Cameron Says:

    That and with the whole mental illness thing I kinda had a connection with him. He said getting traded ranked past getting drafted and getting married to his high school sweetheart Sports Illustrated swimsuit model wife.

    Fuck Zack Greinke.

  6. Jim Says:

    Cameron, tell us how you really feel.

    Like AGon to Boston, this is a good trade for the Brewers and as with the Pads, we need to wait and see if it is good for the Royals.

    This won’t guarantee that the Brewers will be in the post season, but it does mean that they will be playing significant games in September.

  7. Chuck Says:

    I think there’s something fishy about the Greinke trade situation too, but, Jesus Cameron, no need to pop a vein.

    The guy is traded 36 hours after firing his agent, the same guy who had been trying to get him traded for a year.


    I don’t think so.

    I think some of the things Greinke said, just like some of the things Manny said in Boston, were planted by his agent to speed up the process.

  8. John Says:

    Chuck: “For the Brewers to compete the key, for me, isn’t Greinke, but Marcum.”

    I agree.

    “Second, I just don’t think he’s that good. He’s a solid number three at best, and any team that’s willing to bank it’s postseason chances on the BOTTOM of their rotation is asking for trouble.”

    uhhh…that kind of counters the other thing you just said.

    I would rather have a rotation that’s solid 1-5 than an ace, Phil Hughes, and three guys who are going to give up 6 runs a game. Any day (well, any week). The games started by 3 starter count just as much as the ones started by your ace (which is why your statement about Marcum is absolutely correct). That’s why I looked at my analysis the way I did…rather than asking how Greinke compares to other aces in the league, I looked at how he compared to the people he replaces in the rotation. Same with Marcum. The Brewers won 76 games last year; replace Manny Parra and Dave Bush with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, and the team becomes SIGNIFICANTLY better.

    As for Marcum…I completely agree, his health is a major question mark. I don’t pretend to be an expert on pitching mechanics, but I know exactly what you’re talking about…he doesn’t bring his arm back smoothly like most guys but sort of whips it right back – that just looks like pain. Oh, and he missed all of 2009 with Tommy John Surgery, so he’s obviously a question mark.

  9. Chuck Says:

    “uhhh…that kind of counters the other thing you just said.”

    I can see how you would interpret it that way.

    Greinke’s a legitimate number one. The Brewers have a chance to win every time he pitches, regardless of who he is pitching against or who his mound opponent is.

    If Greinke or Gallardo spend time on the DL or are ineffective then Marcum’s going to have to pick up the slack, and if that happens the Brewers are done.

    If Marcum gets thirty starts and twenty of them are quality, that’s what I meant by being the key.

    They need Marcum to be consistent, not to become the go to guy.

  10. JohnBowen Says:

    “Greinke’s a legitimate number one. The Brewers have a chance to win every time he pitches, regardless of who he is pitching against or who his mound opponent is.”

    Which is kinda huge for the Brewers. The Crew had losing records in 09-10 but were pretty damn close to .500 and they absolutely did not have a guy like Greinke who they could count on. Now the pressure’s off Gallardo. Marcum fills in at #3, just like you say he’s supposed to. Randy Wolf goes from 2 to 4. Every spot in the rotation is superior to what it was last year.

    “If Greinke or Gallardo spend time on the DL or are ineffective then Marcum’s going to have to pick up the slack, and if that happens the Brewers are done.”

    Well yeah. Injuries are never good, and a mid-market team like the Brewers has very little margin for error as far as injuries go. It happened to them in ‘05-’07 with Ben Sheets suffering injuries every time he turned around. But you could say the same of the Cardinals…if Pujols gets hurt, then it’s just Holliday, and that means that Rasmus and some others have to try to fill the void of the best hitter on planet Earth. The fact that injuries could happen doesn’t mean that they will.

  11. Raul Says:

    Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote this in regards to what the Yankees could do. This was before Greinke was traded:

    “Mariners officials have stated they will not trade Felix Hernandez. But I think the Yankees should tell the Mariners that they would do the baseball equivalent of the Herschel Walker deal for Hernandez. From the Lee talks, the Yankees know Seattle likes Montero, Nova, Nunez and David Adams, whose injured ankle helped scuttle the July trade for Lee.
    How about those four plus Dellin Betances, who will begin next year at Double-A and is viewed as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors? Seattle would then have a young positional core of Montero at catcher, Justin Smoak (the key from Texas in getting Lee in July) at first, Adams at second, Nunez at short and Arizona Fall League star Dustin Ackley switched from second to left. Nova would be a mid-rotation piece right now with Betances on the come. The Mariners would have six years of control on all of those players plus the money saved from Hernandez’s contract.
    But it is not just Mariners officials who feel they can’t trade Hernandez and break further faith with their fans. When I have run concepts like this by Yankees officials, they have thought it is too much to give up. And I think this is a sign the Yankees have gone too far in overvaluing prospects. Hernandez is the best pitcher in the world — and he still is just nine months older than Nova. I would open up the minor league system essentially and tell the Mariners to take what they want.”

    I’m sure some guys would make that trade. I’d be a little hesitant.

  12. Cameron Says:

    …Joel Sherman is an idiot. That’s pretty much ALL of the Yankees farm system right there. Why not just throw in Brackamn and Romine while you’re at it and use the money you’d be spending on their future contracts to turn the locker room into MLB’s first nursing home?

  13. JohnBowen Says:

    “And I think this is a sign the Yankees have gone too far in overvaluing prospects.”

    Gee…I don’t think that’s been their problem. Let’s count all the Yankee prospects that have come into their own as every day players in the last decade: Robinson Cano. Phil Hughes. Joba Chamberlain (ok, probably should’ve traded that one).

    Montero is, in my opinion, a gold-mine for the Yankees because he’s rated as (and marketed as) a catcher who can hit – something which is very rare and very valuable. But he’s not that. He’s a DH who the Yankees have been squatting behind the plate in the minors. He performed very well with the bat last season, and if he was even remotely competent behind the plate, he would’ve been called up to replace Posada (putting Posada at DH) instead of the Yankees trading for Berkman, and the Yankees wouldn’t have signed Russell Martin in the off-season. So Montero definitely has “trade-me” written all over him.

    But all those guys? I don’t know. Then again, I’m not liking the bottom of the Yankee rotation even if Pettitte does come back and somehow stay healthy, and right now the best pitcher on the FA market is…Carl Pavano (!?)

    It’s a dangerous attitude, but the Yankees rarely allow their prospects to become regulars on the team anyway.

  14. Cameron Says:

    John, you think Pavano being the best pitcher out there right now is nuts, but he’s actually been VERY good these past couple of years. As a 4-5 guy, he’d be a steal for the Yankees.

    …Long as he doesn’t pitch like the last time he was pitching for the Yankees.

  15. Jim Says:

    If you ask Minnesota Viking’s fans, they’ll tell you that the Herschel Walker deal didn’t work out very well for the Vikes. One Mpls sports writer gives out a Turkey of the Year award at Thanksgiving, he nicknamed it the Herschel.

    As a RS fan, I’d approve of the Yanks trading the cream of the farm system for one player, even King Felix. It will handcuff them in making deals to help bolster the team over the next several years.

  16. Bob Says:

    The Mariners will not trade Felix this off-season. By most accounts, he is not unhappy in Seattle, whereas Greinke did not like KC. And there is no way Cashman signs Pavano.
    Shit, there is a greater possibility that the Sox and Yankees work out a trade this off-season than the Yankees going after Pavano. After all, the Yankees drafted Daniel Turpin from the Sox in the Rule 5 draft.

  17. Bob Says:

    The Yankees paid 18 million in luxury tax last year. The Red Sox paid 1.5 million. They were the only 2 teams who were subject to the tax.

  18. Jim Says:

    “The Yankees paid 18 million in luxury tax last year.” No wonder they now have a budget for payroll.

  19. Bob Says:

    I tell you what. If Cashman got fired in October, and Hank and Hal hired me, I would not have given Jeter 3 years at 17 million per year. And I would not have gone after Cliff Lee. I would have seen if Montero and Hughes, plus one other guy could get Grienke. And I would make a hugh play for Beltre. Cashman has his work cut out for him with Jeter, ARod Posada and Mo all in the twilights of their careers. I would allow Pettitte to retire, and if I had to suck for 2 years in order to draft high, I would.

  20. Bob Says:

    The driver who kiled Nick Adenhart is in court todat to ask for leniency.

  21. brautigan Says:

    The Yankees will tank next year. There are no easy fixes with that franchise.

    Merry Christmas.

  22. Chuck Says:

    The Yankees are on Felix’ no trade list, so we can stop speculating.

    If Pettitte comes back, and I believe he will, then the Yanks would have essentially the same rotation as last year with the exception of Javy Vazquez.

    I think Ivan Nova is far enough advanced as a prospect to make 20-25 starts, and if not the Yanks won’t have any problems finding someone who can.

    I like the Martin signing although I still think they’re a bit short on the bench, especially lacking is some righthanded power from a guy who can play the OF.

    Brandon Laird has a chance to fill that role if he has a good spring, but I don’t want him in the lineup everyday if ARod or Swisher get hurt.

  23. Bob Says:

    The driver got AT LEAST 51 years of prison. 15 years for each life, plus an additional 6 years for other stuff.

  24. Chuck Says:

    This is for you, Cameron.

  25. Cameron Says:

    He was great while he was here, but he dropped us like a bad ex.

  26. Cameron Says:

    I like the Yankees still, but they’re winning the wildcard. …By a pretty wide margin to Boston’s AL East win. Toronto’s too young, Baltimore’s too green, and Tampa’s lost too much. Boston’s gonna run away with the division.

    …And that’s coming from a Yankees fan.

    The Royals fan in me is on suicide watch. …What’s the 2012 draft class look like?

  27. Cameron Says:

    I love how it says the Adenhart driver got 51 to life. It may just be my state, but life here in Missouri is a 33 1/3 year sentence.

  28. Hossrex Says:

    Cameron: “I know how Boston fans felt about Manny Ramirez now.”

    It was exactly what happened in LA, except that like most things on the West Coast, it was put on fast forward with a hip rock video soundtrack.

    Jul 08: WTF? We got Manny?
    Oct 08: HE’S THE BEST EVER!
    Dec 08: HE’S OVERRATED!
    Jun 09: HE SUCKS!
    Apr 10: GET RID OF HIM!
    Aug 10: HE’S GONE!

  29. Hossrex Says:

    Cameron: “The Royals fan in me is on suicide watch. …What’s the 2012 draft class look like?”

    Kansas City Royals Fans: Waiting for the 2012 apocalypse since 1969.

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