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Great Lakes Royals


December 20, 2010 8:57 PM

Zack Greinke Trade Reactions

Apr. 05, 2010 - Kansas City, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - epa02105081 Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke walks off the field against the Detroit Tigers in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri USA, 5 April 2010.
Zack Greinke is settling in his new digs right now, as a resident of Milwaukee, WI.  The Royals traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday for three major leaguers (OF Lorenzo Cain, IF Alcedies Escobar, RP Jeremy Jeffers), and a prospect (SP Jake Odorizzi).

The former three all head to the Royals 40-man roster.  All three have remaining contract options.

There are a number of different camps that have separated in terms of panning the trade.  Some feel that the Royals didn't get enough and should have waited longer (or into the season).  Some feel that the Royals didn't get enough because they set the asking price too high, backing teams out of the market.  Some are blaming the situation on Greinke, who fired his agent less than a week before the trade was consummated.  Believe it or not, there's also a camp that likes the timing of the trade and is satisfied with the prospect haul.

I don't think I fall directly into any one camp.  Clearly, it's hard to be disappointed with the quantity of prospects or the major-league readiness of the prospects.  Those were two major selling points of the Greinke trade.  The Redskins got a 4-for-2 that could be seen by some as a 5-for-1 -- that the Brewers taking Betancourt from the Royals was actually a favor.  One of the reasons I like the timing of this trade is because the Royals somehow did manage to package their worst remaining player with their best player.  This is a trade that fills a lot of holes on next year's team, including the SS position as well as an outfield spot.

Could the Royals be reaching a point where pitching becomes it's greatest need?  In the context of the 2011 team, that's the case.  The lineup has a really good shot at being adequate: they'll likely have below average offensive production from the right fielder, and the catcher, if not the second basemen.  The ceiling for the lineup is an average AL lineup.  For the rotation, chances aren't that good without Greinke.  There's still some home that opening day starter Luke Hochevar can break out, but I don't know how much hope anyone has for Sean O'Sullivan, Kyle Davies, or Vin Mazzaro outside of maybe, someday, a number three starter.  Even those chances aren't very good.

The Royals maintain the Joakim Soria ace-in-the-hole.  I personally feel that the time to see if Soria can start games is right now, right at the beginning of 2011.  While I also think the Royals should pick up a veteran starter on a one year deal to bolster the rotation in Greinke's absence, finding out Soria can maintain his four-pitch dominance as a starter would greatly soften the blow by this trade.  It would also give the talent on the farm an established veteran in the rotation by the time it arrives at this level, and more importantly, in my opinion, would open up the closer role to find young players who can handle the role as the Royals get ready to ascend the AL Central standings.

That ascension will not begin in 2011.  For the Royals, the Greinke trade results one last teardown of the big league roster before the talent from the farm system begins to reach the major leagues in bunches.  It's been decided that the frontier of veterans of the next Royals contender will be Billy Butler, Joakim Soria, and uh, maybe Mike Aviles?  Give Dayton Moore some credit: this team could have been a third place team by holding onto and playing Greinke and David DeJesus.  Now, this is a terrible team in the short term, but there's clearly some sort of plan (or process) here.

Unfortunately, while I think the timing of the trade was right for Greinke and right for the Royals, I think they locked themselves into a trade partner before the market completely re-set in the wake of Greinke's trade demand.  From the Brewers, I think the Royals got absolutely everything they could have.  The piece I would have wanted them to add was 2B prospect Brett Lawrie, but I think the key here (Lawrie was dealt to the Blue Jays for SP Shaun Marcum three weeks ago) is that Greinke had the Brewers on his no-trade list until he switched agents, and took them off in response to their acquisition of Marcum.  That was a win-now move for the Brewers, and one of the things that made Milwaukee an appealing destination to Greinke.

This was, I think, the best possible trade package from the Brewers given all the circumstances.  And I think there's more good than bad in it for the Royals.  But I agree with many voices out there that the haul of prospects was underwhelming.  The number one thing I wanted to receive in a Zack Greinke trade was the next Zack Greinke type player.  In reality, the Royals already have a bunch of ace-type pitching prospects in the minors.  And maybe with Jake Odorizzi, everything goes right in Wilmington this year, and he gets fast-tracked as the next Greinke type player this organization produced.  Likely though, there's no one like that in this deal.

Instead, the biggest upgrade and the centerpiece of this deal is the SS upgrade, going from Betancourt to Alcides Escobar.  A bunch of other needs were filled as well, and a bunch of salary was saved, and a bunch of risk was mitigated, and the Royals got some high-value pitchers to help offset the difference.  All of that matters.  At the end of the day, what the Royals HAVE is a better shortstop situation than they've had in years, and no Zack Greinke.

I would describe this trade as "unfortunate."  I hate that the 2009 AL Cy Young winner was a Royal, and now is not, and there's nothing to really be excited about from this trade.  The Royals, uh, fixed some needs and cost structure, and lost some value.  It was the right thing to do from the perspective of leading this organization into the future.  This, I believe, is indisputable.  I'd still rather watch Zack Greinke pitch for the Royals every 5th day than know how much better off the future is because of this deal.

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