Zack Greinke—Free Agency Profile

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Name: Zack Greinke

Position: Right-handed starting pitcher

Vital Statistics: Age—29; Height—6’2”; Weight—200 lbs; Bats—Right; Throws—Right

Transactions: June 2002—Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1st round (6th pick) MLB Draft from Apopka HS in Florida; traded by the Kansas City Royals

December 19, 2010—Traded by the Royals to the Milwaukee Brewers with INF Yuniesky Betancourt and cash for OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, and RHP Jake Odorizzi

July 27, 2012—Traded by the Brewers to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for SS Jean Segura, RHP Ariel Pena, and RHP Johnny Hellweg

Awards: 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner

Agent: Casey Close

Might he return to the Angels? Yes

Teams that could use and pay him: Los Angels Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers

Positives: Greinke has a low-90s fastball that he can accelerate it up to around 97 when he needs it; this is what was referred to 100 years ago by the likes of Christy Mathewson as “pitching in a pinch.” His control is masterful; he has three variations on his fastball—a cutter, a four-seamer, and a two-seamer—a curve, slider, and changeup. The combination makes him one of the most gifted pitchers in baseball.

He formulates a gameplan and executes it. Greinke’s motion is clean and effortless and he’s been physically healthy (apart from a his fractured rib incurred playing basketball) for his whole career. He can hit, is a fine all-around athlete, and a leader off the field ready and willing to provide tips to teammates and even the front office.

Negatives: His much-publicized psychological issues and battle with depression have led to the perception that he wouldn’t be able to handle the high-pressure East Coast venues of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies. He has a deer-in-the-headlights look that put forth the image of fear and inability to deal with big games. His one opportunity in the post-season came in 2011 with the Brewers and he got rocked in three starts.

What he’ll want: 7-years, $167 million with a full no-trade clause

What he’ll get: 6-years, $148 million with a 7th year option raising it to a potential $170 million and a full no-trade clause

Teams that might give it to him: Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Red Sox, Cardinals

The Rangers want Greinke and have the money to pay him, but they’re not going as high as the bidding will get. The Angels have the cash, but they re-signed Jered Weaver and signed C.J. Wilson to essentially duplicate contracts that each total about half of what Greinke wants. Are they going to make an increasingly toxic clubhouse atmosphere worse by overpaying for an outsider after Weaver went against the wishes of his agent Scott Boras by taking a down-the-line salary to forego free agency and stay? With the Albert Pujols contract on the books, I don’t see Arte Moreno okaying such an outlay for Greinke.

The Nationals are loaded with money but, truthfully, they don’t need Greinke. They’ll spend their money on a center fielder and if they want another starting pitcher will go the cheaper/easier route with a lower level name with Dan Haren or by trading for James Shields.

The Red Sox are trying to get back to their roots of the Theo Epstein era, but have also made some noise for players like Josh Hamilton and Greinke who might not be best-suited for Boston. Like with Hamilton, the Red Sox could panic as a response to the anger of their fan base and the drastic improvement of the Blue Jays.

The Cardinals have money to spend with Chris Carpenter and Carlos Beltran both coming off the books after 2013; they’re going to need to sign Adam Wainwright, but the departure of Pujols truly freed the Cardinals to do other things. Greinke would be great in St. Louis.

In the end, it comes down to what the Dodgers are willing to do. Cash is no object; they have money with their new ownership and they’re spending it.

Would I sign Greinke? If I had the money to spend and the agreeable, relaxed venue, I would. Greinke in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia is not a good idea.

Will it be a retrospective mistake for the team that signs him? It’s a lot of money and that amount of money for a pitcher is a risk. That said, Greinke is 29 and keeps himself in shape. As far as pitchers go, he’s more likely than most to be able to stay healthy and productive for the length of a 6-7 year deal.

Prediction: Greinke will sign with the Dodgers.

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Analyzing the Zack Greinke Trade

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For the Angels

The Angels have long had a history of collecting starting pitching. The addition of Zack Greinke gives them a top three of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Greinke with the struggling but still formidable Dan Haren at number four. The Angels are a veteran, win-now team and Greinke doesn’t have to be merely a rental. They have the money to sign him, but have to cautiously navigate the fragility of baseball players’ egos and clubhouse harmony if they give Greinke the $140+ million it’s going to take to keep him. Weaver chose to forego his opportunity at free agency—presumably over the strenuous objections of his agent Scott Boras—and sign a down-the-line contract for 5-years at $85 million. As much as he said that $85 million is enough money, he could change his tune if Greinke is given a guaranteed $60 million more to sign.

It can be debated how valuable Greinke is going to be to the Angels in the playoffs. If you look back through recent history, since the advent of the Wild Card, teams that have put together awe-inspiring starting rotations have routinely gotten picked off in the playoffs. Notably, the Braves and Phillies were two such teams and it happened repeatedly. The teams that have won in the playoffs have had a very good bullpen and reliable closer. The manager is also a factor. It’s different managing in the playoffs than it is in the regular season. In a short series, there’s not the option of leaving the starting pitcher in to find his groove and hope that the offense will make up the difference. A quick hook is required and a manager whose strategy isn’t predicated on the situation but is more invested in the “this is the way I manage” brand of egomania and inflexibility, the starting rotation isn’t going to help them all that much if they don’t perform.

But the Angels have to make the playoffs before concerning themselves with what they’re going to do while there and the addition of Greinke improves their chances in doing that.

For the Brewers

GM Doug Melvin got his shortstop for the next decade in Jean Segura. Segura’s path was blocked with the Angels and that wasn’t going to change, but the Brewers are starting an on-the-fly retool and Melvin has a history of turning things around quickly as he did after 2008 and put a team together that was a legitimate World Series contender three years later. They needed to rebuild a decimated farm system and with Segura and 6’9” righty pitcher John Hellweg and righty pitcher Ariel Pena, they’ve taken steps to restock that system.

This is not a teardown a la the Marlins where they’re taking their name players and dealing them away simply to gouge their customers and keep the authorities off their backs. Owner Mark Attanasio is flexible with his payroll, trusts his GM and the fans seem to understand how things have to be handled with in mid-market Milwaukee. Greinke had resisted efforts to stay in Milwaukee and if he were to do so, it would’ve required that he take a contract similar to the one the aforementioned Weaver took to stay with the Angels. He wants to get paid and that wasn’t going to happen for the duration or dollars palatable for the Brewers, so they moved on.

For Greinke

The sense that he’s not able to handle pressure due to his former issues with depression are still hovering over him like a vulture. Considered a bad fit for the large market clubs with demanding fanbases, the Angels are a laid back atmosphere in a languid locale. If Greinke proves himself able to deal with the expectations inherent with a team that has the payroll and star power of the Angels, it bolsters his free agent credentials. If he does poorly, the scrutiny will get worse. Pitching well in the regular season and in the playoffs might force teams like the Yankees to consider pursuing him. At worst, Greinke will have the Yankees as a bargaining chip to get the money he wants. In this market, if the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are not chasing a free agent, his options are severely limited and, as a result, so will be his potential paycheck. He can put the rumors that he’s mentally weak to rest over the next two (and the Angels hope, three) months.

Then he’ll get his money.

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Precision Strikes 5.30.2011

Books, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Let’s address some stuff. In brief.

The true test with big name trades.

Jose Reyes on a hot streak begets endless stories of how the Mets “have” to sign him.

The Mets don’t “have” to do anything other than what’s best for the franchise. If that means trading Reyes, then they should trade Reyes. If that means keeping Reyes, then they should make every effort to keep Reyes.

With the new minority owner David Einhorn about to infuse the club with much-needed cash, it leaves the Reyes decision in the hands of GM Sandy Alderson; presumably, Alderson will make his call based purely on baseball-related matters.

Reyes has been great all season long but that can only enhance his trade value and perhaps give the Mets more incentive to trade him.

Hypothetically, if a team hungry for offense like the Angels comes calling in desperation and offers a package that includes say Mike Trout (unlikely) and/or Jean Segura (nod to Peter at Capitol Avenue; I had no idea who Segura was and kinda still don’t; his numbers look “young Reyes-like” though), then that would be another mistake on the Mets docket, this one made by the new management team stemming from failing to act.

It’s hard to do, but one of the reasons the Rays, Marlins and to a certain extent, the Red Sox have been so successful within certain parameters of belief on how to run their franchises is that they either don’t have a fan base that is so frantic at the prospect of trading anyone and everyone as is the case with the Rays and Marlins; or do what they feel is right based on current circumstances, like the Red Sox.

This is the tack the Mets need to take with Reyes, Carlos Beltran and any other player in whom opposing clubs are interested—keep and open mind in every conceivable aspect.

Business is business; annoying is annoying.

I understand ESPN’s need for cross-promotion, but it’s gone from necessary to ego-driven to over-the-top and has entered into the airless vacuum of content which you can’t even pay attention to anymore.

Never mind the impropriety of sports reporters cozying up to athletes about whom they’re supposed to provide objective analysis (if such a thing even exists anymore, anywhere other than here); forget the coverage of convenience that occurs when lust-target Brett Favre emerges from his lair.

Ignore all of that.

When you log onto ESPN.com or watch, listen or read any of their demographically dominated entities, you have to know what you’re walking into; but is it necessary for me to have to endure the rollover ads with the unfunny Kenny Mayne talking about Van Heusen shirts in his canned deadpan? Do I have to see Chris Berman’s smug countenance hawking Nesquik?

I log onto ESPN.com because I have to; I’m not a reporter nor do I want to be one; the sad part is, it’s getting so ESPN’s reporters—many of whom are or were of high-quality—are sucked into editorial edicts or goofy commercials because they have no other option either.

It took nearly 7 years, but…

I saw this on Twitter:

Scott Kazmir 2 1/3 innings 10 earned runs tonight. In two starts for Salt Lake, 4 innings 16 earned runs.

When the Mets traded Kazmir to the Devil Rays for a package led by Victor Zambrano, it was called one of the worst trades in baseball history.

Maybe it was.

But now, nearly 7 years after the fact, it’s a safe bet that Zambrano is now better than Kazmir.

As far as I know, Zambrano is retired.

Maybe the Mets “College of Cardinals” front office who pushed the deal through knew something?

Okay, we won’t go that far.

The only thing remaining for Kazmir is some Ben Sheets-style surgical procedure whether he needs it or not. Apart from that, I dunno what else can be done with him after the Angels release him—an unavoidable occurrence is assuredly on the horizon.

Sometimes there is justice.

Am I the only one who finds it funny that Jonny Gomes is batting under .200 for the struggling Reds and is losing playing time to the underrated Fred Lewis?

That the Reds are considering an offensive upgrade because of Gomes’s struggles?

That the Cardinals are rolling along in first place after a spring training incident in which Gomes sang and celebrated the season-ending injury to Cards ace Adam Wainwright?

Wainwright’s out for the year because of injury; Gomes may soon be sitting because he’s been awful.

I call that street justice.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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