Monday, December 20, 2010

Zach Greinke to the Brewers

Sunday's big trade — 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zach Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for four young players — looks to me to be an excellent deal for the Kansas City Royals.

Zach Greinke's career record against
the Twins is an unimpressive
 3-8, 4.90.
The Royals got, in Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, a pair of right-handed pitchers who Baseball America's forthcoming Prospect Handbook will rank as Milwaukee's  No. 1 and No. 3 prospects. In Alcides Escobar, K.C. landed the young shortstop who pushed J.J. Hardy out of Milwaukee, and Lorenzo Cain is a promising center fielder.

I am very much an admirer of Zach Greinke, but that's a lot of talent Milwaukee surrendered for two years of him. Joe Posnanski doesn't like the deal for Kansas City, but I think the Royals might have gotten more out of this forced trade than anybody else has gotten in recent similar deals (Santana, Sabathia, Lee twice, Halladay).

The word was that Kansas City wasn't going to consider trading Greinke within the AL Central. That would have ruled the Twins out anyway. But I doubt that the Twins had the pieces to match this deal.

Kyle Gibson is more advanced than Odorizzi, and either Ben Revere or Aaron Hicks would have fit well as a Cain replacement. Jeffress is a power arm, the type the Twins have lacked — and he is one more positive test for a recreational drug from a lifetime suspension, which makes him at least somewhat dicey an acquisition. He figures to step directly into the Kansas City bullpen.

But the shortstop — that piece of the puzzle just isn't available in the Twins system. Escobar's stock fell some with his rookie season, in which he hit just .235/.288/.326, but he just turned 24, has excellent defensive tools and a lot of "upside."

A roughly comparable package from the Twins would have been Gibson, Hicks, Carlos Gutierrez and Alexi Casilla or Trevor Plouffe. Even if the Twins would have been willing to surrender that much, and even leaving the division rival aspect out of the equation, I think the Milwaukee package is superior anyway.


Two more points about this deal:

(1) Betancourt's inclusion in the deal is interesting because he has been regarded in the sabermetric community as, if not the worst regular player in the majors, one of the "strongest" candidates for that status. That the Royals wanted a young shortstop in a Greinke deal was no secret.

Did the Royals insist that the Brewers take Betancourt as part of the trade, or did the Brewers insist on getting a body to fill the hole being vacated by Escobar? I suspect it was both, and that the cash involved in the trade is a year of Betancourt's salary.

(2) Prince Fielder is part of why the Brewers were willing to give up so much. He's eligible for free agency after 2011; his agent is Scott Boras, and that implies that he's unlikely to re-sign wth the Brewers;  the trade market for Fielder has been slim to nonexistent.

So the Brewers are going for it now. They earlier traded another prospect, Brett Lawrie, for Shaun Marcum, a good if sometimes injured starter. This gives them a projected rotation headed by Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Marcum and Randy Wolf. That foursome may not match the big fours in Philadelphia or San Francisco for hype or past achievement, but it's pretty darn good.


Poll stuff: Forty-one people participated in last week's poll, which asked which of four bullpen candidates would pitch in the most games for the Twins in 2011.

Scott Diamond had the most votes, 13 (32 percent); Pat Neshek, who led most of the week, had 12 (29 percent); Jim Hoey had eight (20 percent); Anthony Slama had six (15 percent) and two (4 percent) said they'll be tied at zero.

New poll up.

1 comment:

  1. Do not like this deal for KC. Could have gotten more. A better SP prospect than Odorizzi should have been the base of the deal. Odorizzi has a lot of development to go but right now only projects out to have # 2 type stuff.

    Greinke under control for 2 more seasons is worth A LOT.

    also, saw this from a MILW paper last Thursday:

    ''After rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar struggled at the plate in 2010 for the Brewers, they hoped he'd go to winter ball and rediscover his stroke before next spring.

    That's not happening.

    Playing for Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, Escobar is batting a mere .211 through 24 games with a woeful .248 on-base percentage. That's a far cry from last winter when Escobar won the Venezuelan Winter League batting title with a robust .393 batting average.

    Escobar went downhill at the plate last season with the Brewers, finishing with a .235 batting average and .288 on-base percentage in 145 games. He lost all semblance of plate discipline -- not that it was ever Escobar's strong suit -- and was benched toward the end to try to re-focus.

    Stats in winter ball aren't the end-all and be-all, but this is not a good sign.

    Centerfielder Carlos Gomez, another offensive underachiever, is doing a bit better with Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. In 19 games, he is batting .269 with a .364 on-base pecentage, which is pretty darn good for him.

    In 97 games for the Brewers last season, Gomez batted .247 with a .298 OBP.''