Baseball was still buzzing with reaction to the Brewers’ trade for Zack Greinke on Monday, when the right-hander made his first appearance in the home clubhouse at Miller Park. After rounding-up some national reaction yesterday morning, let’s stay closer to our MLB.com home.
MLB.com national columnist Peter Gammons:
When the Zack Greinke deal was agreed upon, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Royals GM Dayton Moore, “What’s nice about this trade is that it isn’t a big market taking from a small market.”
Melvin understands Moore’s predicaments. Milwaukee has become a mid-market team that has competed, having made the 2008 playoffs and drawn 3 million fans. Of course, when one traces the franchise’s history back to the Seattle Pilots, the fact remains that it has never won a World Series and until 2007 had gone since 1992 without so much as a winning record.
According to one market survey, Milwaukee and Kansas City (along with Cleveland) are the three Major League cities not in the top 40 urban markets in the U.S.
“Teams in markets like ours cannot go out and sign a Cliff Lee or a top free-agent pitcher,” said Melvin. “We have to rely on scouting and development and try to do what we did with CC Sabathia and now Greinke.”
In July 2008, Melvin traded four players for Sabathia, and the Brewers rode the left-hander’s heart and soul into their first postseason appearance since the 1982 Harvey’s Wallbangers, as Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for his new club.
“When you’re in a smaller market,” Melvin said, “there are things you can do and things you cannot. The margin for error is small. Sometimes people do not understand why you do the things you do, but necessity is something you can’t spell out for fans, because they don’t want to hear it.”
The past two days have brought a flurry of beware-the-Brewers fanfare. With the addition of former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, Milwaukee has suddenly become a trendy pick to contend in, if not actually win, the often chaotic National League Central.
To which the only really appropriate response is: Welcome to the bandwagon.
Because the Brewers were actually a team to take seriously in the Central even before they added Greinke. With the ex-Royals ace on board, they’re more than that. They may very well be the favorites in a division in which no other contender has seriously improved itself this winter.
The Brewers featured a potent offense in 2010, one that scored the fourth-most runs in the NL. Their bullpen, a mess early in the year, sorted itself out nicely by season’s end and looks like an asset going into 2011. Yovani Gallardo is a front-of-the-rotation starter, and recent acquisition Shaun Marcum will likely look like one, too, now that he’s been traded from the American League East to the NL Central.
So if it had merely added another innings-eater, a useful but not spectacular talent like Carl Pavano, Milwaukee would be worth watching. With Greinke on board, look out.
It started with Marcum. And when the backlash builds — people advising about putting too much stock into one move — remember that. It’s two moves, two big ones. Marcum is 29 and coming off an outstanding year in baseball’s toughest division, the AL East. He struck out 165 in 195 1/3 innings and posted a 3.64 ERA while starting nearly a third of his games against the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox.
Then they added Greinke, a Cy Young Award winner just one year ago. Greinke endured a relatively rough 2010 but still pitched at a very high level, and he admitted to some motivation issues while pitching for a struggling Kansas City team. The Brewers believe that by putting he right-hander in a pennant race, they’ll energize him and will see a pitcher more like the ’09 Greinke than the ’10 edition.
If that’s the case, this suddenly becomes one of the three or four best rotations in the NL. Add that to what should again be a top-four offense, and you have a contender. Especially in the Central.
The Brewers can win the World Series.
I know, I know, it’s December and a lot has to go right during the course of a long season to even make the playoffs. But, there is no question, the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers have the “bones” of an actual finish-line-championship team.
Zack Greinke is a game changer. He immediately goes to the top of Milwaukee’s rotation giving all subsequent slots an advantage on every other rotation match-up outside the Phillies. The offensive weapons are in place and will arrive to the ballpark each day burden-free, knowing they don’t need to score six runs to have a chance to win. In Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum, you have three pitchers who were all Opening Day starters and aces of their respective staff’s last season.
The current starting rotation of Greinke (10-14, 4.17 ERA), Gallardo (14-7, 3.84), Marcum (13-8, 3.64), Randy Wolf (13-12, 4.17), and Chris Narveson (12-9, 4.99) is perhaps…take a breath…on paper…THE BEST ROTATION EVER ASSEMBLED IN 41 YEARS OF BREWERS BASEBALL.