I really hope I’m not tempting fate by writing this tonight, but after nearly a full spring and a few months deliberation, I have to say that we’ve won the Zack Greinke trade.
With the performance of Jeremy Jeffress (3.38 ERA, 1.250 WHIP in 8 IP), Lorenzo Cain (.273/.400/.364 and some great defense in spring), Alcides Escobar (.361/.400/.528 and ONE strikeout in 36 at bats) the Royals got some good players who will contribute at the big league level at some point this summer. That they also got a solid starting pitching prospect in Jake Odorizzi only sweetens the deal.
And yeah, there’s the rib thing.
As you probably know, Greinke fractured a rib playing pickup basketball and finally told the Brewers about it about two weeks ago. Since, he was given a tentative date of April 16 for his return.
Turns out, that’s not going to be the case. They don’t know when he’ll be back.
Sure, it’s not like Greinke would have suffered the same injury as a Royal, and there’s every chance that Billy Butler goes golfing one morning and strains something, so you can’t factor that into the trade. It’s not like the Royals knew he was going to get hurt at the time of the deal.
Considering that it’s a rib injury, that limits what Greinke can do. At a time when most pitchers are starting to add on pitches to their workload to get up to a regular season pitch count, Greinke is shut down. This just sets him back more because while he can’t pitch for the Brewers for the first two weeks, when he does get to where he can throw, he also has to make up the time lost that would have built up his endurance.
Meanwhile, the Royals have a legitimate defensive shortstop who’s showing, at least in spring, that he can get on base. It’s been said by many that if Escobar can hit even at an average level, his defense and speed will make him a solid player. That we acquired him while also dumping off Yuniesky Betancourt is a huge win of its own.
Cain is going to start the year in Triple A. That’s just how it’s going to go. The logistics of baseball rosters pretty much ensure that, and Melky Cabrera‘s hot spring give the Royals all the evidence they need to point to to jettison Cain to the minors. When he gets up to the big leagues, though, Cain is going to be an athletic fan favorite. I’m not convinced he’ll be the next Torii Hunter offensively, but he might be Torii Hunter-lite. That’s still pretty good.
Jeffress could be the closer of the future if he gets his breaking ball under control and if the oft-speculated Joakim Soria trade ends up happening. (I swear, it’s like every month a new Soria-to-somebody trade rumor pops up.)
The more I look at the return of the Greinke deal, the more I like it. Maybe it’s the idea that the team really is more than one player.
When you consider that Greinke didn’t want to play in Kansas City and wait on another youth movement, who knows what he’d have provided in the Royals rotation. We could have seen a repeat of last year’s second half where Greinke seemed disinterested and his performance suffered as a result. Another two years of that kind of production would have destroyed his trade value and confirmed his critics’ worst fears – that Greinke’s a flake.
He’s not, and I’m sure once he gets back on track with the Brewers, he’ll be the star we remember from 2009. Until then, Royals fans may get to enjoy the spoils of a deal well done.