Results tagged ‘ Zack Greinke ’

Successful BP session for Greinke

A group of Brewers Minor Leaguers that included outfield prospects Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl took the first swings of the year against Zack Greinke when the right-hander threw live batting practice on Thursday. 
The session was a success, pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. 
“He’s got all of his stuff and it’s all working, I can tell you that,” said Schafer. “His change-up looked good, his breaking stuff looked good, he was locating his fastball. He had it all working and it looked real good. Any time you can get in the box against one of the best pitchers in baseball, that’s always good.” 
Greinke was originally slated to throw a day earlier, but the session was pushed back because of some bruised ribs that manager Ron Roenicke said Greinke suffered “off the field.” Roenicke declined to expound. 
“Honestly,” Roenicke said, “Unless something [new] comes up, it’s really not a big deal.” 
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Morning Brew: Rogers, Greinke, Yount

Here’s a morning brew of notes from our session with manager Ron Roenicke:

— Zack Greinke will try again today to throw his first live batting practice session at Maryvale Baseball Park. His session scheduled for Wednesday was pushed back because of some bruised ribs, which Roenicke said was suffered “off the field.” Roenicke declined to expound. “Honestly,” Roenicke said, “It’s really not a big deal.”
— The team is backing off right-hander Mark Rogers, who shut down his own throwing session on Wednesday because of tightness in the back of his surgically-repaired shoulder. Rogers will be treated something like a rehabbing player, and will move through a throwing program before returning to the mound. 
— Catcher Jonathan Lucroy called Roenicke on Wednesday night after learning he’d need surgery for a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Roenicke expects Lucroy only to miss a couple of days of camp before returning to catching bullpens, but it will be about four weeks before he’s able to hit.
— Righty Shaun Marcum will start one of the team’s split-squad Cactus League openers on Monday against the Giants and Cubs, Roenicke said. We’ll check with pitching coach Rick Kranitz to see which game Marcum will pitch — I’m guessing he’ll face the Giants — and who will start the other game. 
— Hall of Famer Robin Yount arrived in camp this morning and was in uniform for the workout. He lives in Phoenix always stops by Maryvale Baseball Park during Spring Training. Yount offered some great advice to Roenicke for dealing with the media, but it’s not fit to print in this space. 
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Lucroy out with fractured finger

Brewers starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy suffered a fractured pinky finger on his throwing hand Wednesday as the injury bug bit Brewers camp in a big way. 

Lucroy suffered the injury during blocking drills during the team’s second full-squad workout and underwent x-rays, which revealed the fracture. He was to be further examined Wednesday afternoon by Dr. Don Sheridan, a hand specialist who has performed a series of surgeries on second baseman Rickie Weeks. 
After returning from his x-rays, Lucroy wore a splint on his right pinky. A Brewers spokesperson said he did not want to address reporters until after his visit with the specialist. 
“Unfortunately, these kinds of things happen in Spring Training,” said Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, the suddenly busy head of the team’s medical program.
In other injury news Wednesday:
— Right-hander Zack Greinke’s live batting practice session was pushed back at least one day because of a bruised rib-cage, but it’s considered very minor, Ash said. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he expects Greinke to throw on Thursday instead. 
“I plan on him throwing then,” Kranitz said. 
— Top pitching prospect Mark Rogers shut down his live BP session after feeling tightness in his twice surgically-repaired right shoulder. It’s something he’s been dealing with since the start of Spring Training. 
“In long toss I feel great, but letting it go, it’s a little it tight,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to push it now, and [the medical staff] said the same thing. Let’s err on the side of caution and stay healthy as opposed to having a setback. 
“I did a little extra work [on Tuesday] and I think that’s why it’s a little tight today. [Structurally], it’s all good, thank God. it’s not anywhere around where the surgery was and it’s a totally different feeling. I can throw 80 percent, but when I let it go it’s just a little bit tight.”
Because of his series of injuries, this is the first Spring Training since 2006 that Rogers is not on a restricted throwing program. 
“I’m lucky here because they know my history and let me take my time,” Rogers said. 
— Those setbacks came a few hours after the Brewers announced third baseman Mat Gamel would be held out of hitting drills for at least a week because of a rib-cage strain. For more on that, see the blog post from this morning.
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Greinke has a fan in skipper

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will get a good look at all five of his projected starters in live batting practice today, including high-profile newcomer Zack Greinke. Roenicke is already a fan of Greinke’s complex personality. 

“I really like his personality, and you guys know this from the conversation [on Tuesday, when Greinke met with a group of reporters], there’s no beating around the bush,” Roenicke said. “He just lays it out there. 
“Say we’re covering first base [in drills] — and this is ‘for instance,’ he didn’t say this. If I say to him, ‘Hey Zack, have we done enough covering first base?’ He’ll say, ‘Yeah, that’s a waste of time.’ He’s just telling me what he thinks. There’s no malice in what he says.”
Roenicke also lauded Greinke’s work ethic.
“He’s one of those guys like [catcher Jonathan Lucroy] — he puts a lot of effort into this,” Roenicke said. “He studies video, he studies the advanced reports. He knows what he wants to do, and he gets locked in on a thing.”
Roenicke was prodded again Wednesday to reveal whether Greinke or somebody else would get the Opening Day nod against the Reds, who have already named their three starters for the opening series. Roenicke said he has an idea, but had yet to inform the players. 
So that announcement will have to wait. 
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Chatting with Greinke

Scott Paulus/Brewers
The popular perception is that Zack Greinke approved a trade to Milwaukee because it offered a chance to win in the same kind of small-market atmosphere he was leaving behind in Kansas City. But that’s not exactly right.
“There’s more people to ignore in New York or Boston than there is in Milwaukee,” he said, “but I would still ignore them, probably.”
That was only one moment of refreshing honesty from the most fascinating player in recent Brewers history. Greinke met following the team’s first full-squad workout with a small group of reporters huddled into an even smaller room at Maryvale Baseball Park for his first interview since reporting to camp more than a week ago. 
He talked candidly about the challenges facing a Major Leaguer with social anxiety disorder, a condition diagnosed five years ago this spring that almost permanently pulled Greinke away from baseball. He said he’s surprised he came back at all, and explained the way he was pushed into pitching in the first place, back in high school when he preferred to hit and play the field. He explained why he mostly keeps to himself in the clubhouse, why he avoids media interviews and why he’d forfeit the $27 million he’s owed over the next two seasons if he could get rid of the cameras and the fame and just play baseball. 
And then he explained his fiery competitiveness, which is why he puts up with all of it. 
“Baseball, in my opinion, would be a lot better if you could just make the same salary as everybody else in the world and you don’t deal with any of the other stuff,” Greinke said. “But that’s not how it is. The main thing is I want to pitch against the best players in the world, and you can’t do that playing in a pick-up baseball league in your town.”
For much more on Greinke, check out my story on later today. There’s way too much to fit in a single piece, but I’ll see what I can do.
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Prince, Greinke have history

When Prince Fielder met Zack Greinke in 2001, he didn’t know Greinke would someday be the American League Cy Young Award winner. Fielder didn’t know Greinke could pitch at all. 
The Orlando natives played together in showcases when they were high school juniors and seniors. Fielder was a first baseman, of course, and Greinke played third base. 
“I didn’t know he pitched until I say him on TV [later],” Fielder said. “I knew he could throw hard, but I knew he could hit, too. He hit third in the showcase, so that’s pretty good.” 
Greinke will get his chance to hit in 2011. After seven seasons with the Royals in the AL, including a 2009 in which he 16-8 for a 65-97 team, posted a 2.16 ERA and won the Cy Young Award, Greinke was traded to the Brewers in December. He should fit right in – Brewers pitchers led the league last year in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and RBIs. 
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Greinke talks about Meche influence

The more I read about Zack Greinke, the more I like him. Thanks to the boys at the Brew Crew Ball site, I came across this blog post from the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger, who wrote about the connection between Greinke and recently-retired Royal Gil Meche.

You’ll recognize Meche as the guy who left $12 million on the table this week. But I did not know about the role he played in helping Greinke along his road to stardom.
“Gil definitely helped me a lot,” Greinke told the newspaper. “It wasn’t so much talking about baseball as it was watching him go about his business. On game day, nobody was as focused as Gil. He took the ball and never wanted to come out of games. Other guys would see that [competitive fire]. I tried to be like that. That was my goal.”
Here’s what Greinke said about Meche’s willingness to give back the $12 million he’s owed for 2011:
“That surprised me a little because he’s entitled to that money. He was legitimately injured. But I’m not that surprised. People don’t realize it, but most guys really don’t play the game because of money. And it drives most guys crazy when they’re injured and can’t earn their money. I know it bothered Gil. That’s why he came back as a reliever last season instead of having surgery. That was his decision, and I think he did a pretty good job for us.”
I’m looking forward to getting to know Greinke a bit during Spring Training. Hopefully, he’ll let us new guys in a bit.
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More reaction to Greinke

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 home. 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. 
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Greinke wants to win now

I shot some video of Zack Greinke’s first visit to Milwaukee since the weekend trade, and you’ll be able to check it out on later today. For now, here’s a taste of the story I filed for the site:
Zack Greinke knows how hard it is to pull off a trade. He tried to deal for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Greg Jennings in his fantasy football league and couldn’t get it done. 
“It fell through,” Greinke said with a shrug. “The problem, probably in baseball, too, is you always want to get something, but you like what you have. It’s hard to give up what you have.” 
The Brewers gave up a lot to get the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner from the Royals along with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin parted with four premium, young players with 23 years of Major League club control ahead of them, including the team’s starting shortstop (Alcides Escobar), it’s potential starting center fielder (Lorenzo Cain), a possible future closer (Jeremy Jeffress) and a top pitching prospect (Jake Odorizzi) who’s been compared to Greinke himself. 
So it was with some degree of appreciation that Greinke visited the Brewers clubhouse for the first time on Monday, a day after Milwaukee and Kansas City announced their six-player blockbuster. Greinke joins a re-made Brewers starting rotation that he thinks might just pitch the team into October. 
“I don’t have much playoff experience, so I don’t know how it all works,” he joked. “I’m just hoping to get there.” 
Greinke has precisely zero games of postseason experience in seven Major League seasons with the Royals, and he’s joining a Brewers club that has not fared much better. They did win the 2008 National League Wild Card before bowing-out to the eventual World Champion Phillies, but with Greinke and incumbent ace YovanI Gallardo atop a rebuilt rotation, hopes are high. 
Thanks to Brewers photographer Scott Paulus for the photos:
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Reaction to Greinke trade

Welcome to the offseason of the unexpected, in which the Brewers can trade for Zack Greinke, the Phillies can come out of nowhere to sign Cliff Lee and the Nationals can swoop in for Jayson Werth. If nobody sees it coming, you can bet it’s going to happen. 
The prevailing baseball wisdom was that the Brewers, after trading top positional prospect Brett Lawrie at the Winter Meetings for Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum, didn’t have enough left in their prospect pool to pry Greinke from the Royals. So the Brewers instead looked at free agent Carl Pavano, continued conversations with fellow free agent Chris Capuano and talked with teams like the Braves and Marlins about lesser trades for younger, unproven arms. 
Then, over the weekend, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin made his stunning move, acquiring 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Greinke along with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million for a package of four premium young players: Shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi. 
Reaction from around the game was plentiful. Here’s a taste:
Prospects. All you hear in baseball, all the time, is that certain prospects are too valuable to trade.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin evidently does not believe in that premise. And he is gambling his job that he will be proven right.
Melvin made the most surprising trade of the offseason on Sunday, acquiring Royals ace Zack Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for four of the Brewers’ best young players.
Two of the Brewers’ projected regulars, shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, are part of the package for Greinke. So are two of the team’s top young arms, right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi.
Odorizzi, 20, actually draws comparisons to Greinke, but some rival clubs believe he could end up in the bullpen. Jeffress, 23, has tested positive three times for marijuana, but throws in the upper 90s and made an impressive debut as a reliever last season.
Melvin clearly is trying to win next season, which almost certainly will be the last in Milwaukee for first baseman Prince Fielder and perhaps the last for second baseman Rickie Weeks.
Earlier this offseason, Melvin made a similar but less extravagant deal, trading perhaps his top prospect, infielder Brett Lawrie, for Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum.
Which is why one rival executive, upon learning of the Greinke deal, used the term “gutted” to describe the state of the Brewers’ farm system.
That description might very well be accurate. But if the Brewers reach the postseason in Fielder’s last hurrah, Melvin will simply figure out the rest later. …
Too many current GMs are afraid of trading prospects, afraid of making deals that will come back to “haunt” them. Well, the idea isn’t to win the Baseball America organizational rankings. The idea is to win the World Series.
Three years ago, the Tigers traded six players to the Marlins for third baseman Miguel Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis. The Marlins received the two jewels of the Tigers’ farm system, center fielder Cameron Maybin and left-hander Andrew Miller. Both flopped and were traded this offseason.
Prospects are fine, but Doug Melvin needs players.
He’s getting one of the best.
Not long after the Milwaukee Brewers spiraled deep into the standings at the outset of season and speculation began about whether manager Ken Macha might be fired, I wrote here about how awful the Brewers pitching was, and how no manager would have won with that group.
Within hours, I got an e-mail response to that piece — about how it was a dead-on assessment of Milwaukee’s troubles, and how poorly the team’s general manager had done in building a pitching staff that could contend.
The note was from someone uniquely qualified to render an opinion on the matter: Brewers general manager Doug Melvin.
He will not repeat his mistakes going into next year, with the additions of Shaun Marcum — who figures to be a high-end National League starter, along the lines of a Tommy Hanson — and now Zack Greinke. Suddenly the Brewers might have the best rotation of any NL team other than the Phillies and Giants.
The big surprise, of course, was that Milwaukee had enough talent in its system to make the deal. Sources told last week that the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers didn’t match up very well with Kansas City. But Toronto and Washington appeared to be ahead of the Brewers in the pecking order.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, an ardent Greinke suitor, appeared to make an awfully inspired move two weeks ago when he traded Marcum to the Brewers for minor league infielder Brett Lawrie.
The deal looked brilliant on two fronts: (1) By sending Marcum to Milwaukee, Anthopoulos lessened the Brewers’ need to rush out and acquire another starter; and (2) by acquiring Lawrie, Milwaukee’s top prospect, Anthopoulos took away one of Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin’s main trade chips.
Little did we know. Melvin was thinking two steps ahead, and Moore found his match in Milwaukee.
It will take time, of course, to hand out the grades for the two teams. But if Escobar and Cain are even average big league regulars, [Royals GM Dayton] Moore probably did OK. And if Odorizzi builds on the potential he showed in 2010, when he was Milwaukee ‘s minor league pitcher of the year, or Jeffress works through his off-field issues and becomes an effective closer for Kansas City, Moore did better than OK.
With a single, unexpected move, the Brewers may have become NL Central favorites. … The addition of Greinke makes the Brewers five to six wins better than they were without him, a gain they give back some of with the shortstop exchange, but not nearly enough to change the deal for them. This is a significant step for the Brewers, an even bigger move than the acquisition of CC Sabathia that propelled them into the 2008 playoffs. …
The Royals didn’t break the bank with this deal. This isn’t their Mark Teixeira trade. They took their upside in the arms of Jeffress and Odorizzi and got low-service-time, low-cost position players who have some potential to become good regulars, though not stars. It’s easy to see all four of these guys as contributors to the 2016 World Champions; it
‘s just hard to see any of them as MVPs or Cy Young winners. Then again, that’s the job of Eric Hosmer and [Mike] Montgomery.
Whatever the analytic angles, the story here is that this trade is fantastic for baseball. In an offseason dominated by what the East Coast scary monsters have done, the big-market dollars spent by Boston and Philadelphia and even Washington, it’s refreshing to see a legitimately small-market team make an aggressive move to win now. The Brewers are living off the talent generated by the time Jack Zduriencik spent with them, watching it on the field and using it in trades. This step, though, using some of that bounty to accelerate the process and put a winning team on the field — a championship team on the field — is not one that every organization can navigate. Doug Melvin earned his pay with this deal, trading some of the team’s future to enhance its present, the one where his lineup is loaded with at-peak hitters and his team has money to spend.
Melvin still has work to do. Betancourt is a terrible player who needs to be replaced. He may have to find an alternative for center field, where Carlos Gomez has failed to be a solution. Without Jeffress, the Brewers could use a power arm for the ‘pen. Having traded for Greinke, the Brewers have made it very clear what they’re trying to do; it will do them no good now to hold back financially as they look to put the best team they can on the field next year.
Today, throughout baseball, people are talking about the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s a good thing, no matter who you root for.
Rather than settle for more Jeff Suppan-level solutions and digging up the next Doug Davis, Melvin has gone out and acquired what the free market did not have on offer in any number, spending prospects to acquire quality starting pitching. Trading for Shaun Marcum already armed the Brewers with a quality starter for the next two seasons, but dealing Brett Lawrie was just the first step in a massive amount of prospect off-loading to try and get at least one more divisional flaglet or wild-card invitation to October. As the Giants just demonstrated, anything can happen once you get there, and if you’re armed with your own stock of quality starting pitching, you can beat anybody, even the latest employer of Cliff Lee. It’s an entirely sensible adaptation to a market where few top free agents are going to decide that they’ve always wanted to spend their best years in Milwaukee. …
To merely call this deal a win/win trade understates what the Brewers achieved, because their medium-term future with Lawrie at second, Jeffress in the pen, and Cain in center wasn’t guaranteed to do much more than deliver more of the immediate same, 80-win teams and honorable also-rans. By the time Odorizzi might have arrived, Melvin’s head could have long since rotted off the pointed stick it might have been mounted on after not getting any more than one wild-card appearance from a win-now cadre of talent.
So, no more half-measures. If the Reds can win the NL Central, then going for it seems like an appropriate order for the day.
The Brewers might be trying to win now, but … traded away three Major League-ready players. Both Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar were penciled in as starters, and Jeremy Jeffress was a likely candidate for the bullpen. Unfortunately, the Brewers don’t have solid replacements for any of those players.
Carlos Gomez is expected to start in center field following Cain’s departure. While Gomez dazzles in the field and on the base paths, his career .293 OBP leaves much to be desired. Despite his struggles at the plate, Gomez’s defense should make him a useful contributor during the upcoming season. In his first press conference with the Brewers, Ron Roenicke emphasized being aggressive on the bases, which should play into Gomez’s strengths.
The scariest aspect of the Yuniesky Betancourt acquisition is that (gulp) Melvin has already penciled him in as a starter. Betancourt carries a rather infamous reputation among the stat-community, and it’s safe to say he isn’t the answer for the Brewers. There is a chance that Craig Counsell returns to the team, but likely as Betancourt’s backup. Offensively, the Brewers will need to succeed despite employing both Betancourt and Gomez as starters.
Their pitching rotation, however, has drastically improved this off-season. The acquisitions of Greinke and Shaun Marcum give the Brewers one of the best rotations in the National League. Though many considered Greinke’s 2010 a let-down, he was still worth 5.2 WAR, better than any pitcher on the Brewers’ roster. Yovani Gallardo might be named the opening-day starter, but Greinke will be the best pitcher on the team next season.
Shaun Marcum carries incredible value as a third starter. Despite missing the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Marcum turned in the best season of his career in 2010. Though most pitchers typically struggle with control following the surgery, Marcum posted one of the best BB/9 rates of any starting pitcher last season. Brewers’ starters posted the worst BB/9 rate in the league last season, so Marcum’s ability to limit walks will be a welcome addition to this rotation. …
Of all the teams in the Central, the Brewers have made the largest strides this off-season. While the Reds and Cardinals focused on marginal improvements, the Brewers completely overhauled their rotation. The Reds and Cardinals should compete for the division, but the Brewers’ off-season acquisitions will be tough to beat.
Big markets trade highly rated prospects for established players with the objective to win now.
Small markets typically shed salary for young guys and don’t really care if anyone buys tickets when the product stinks because, well, there’s always the revenue-sharing money to pocket.
Thankfully, the Brewers don’t slink through the small-market loophole. They honor the responsibility to be competitive for the 3 million-plus who fill Miller Park in good times and bad. You could say the team is merely fulfilling its obligation, but it has become much more than that in this rare place where an uncommon level of trust has been established between customers and management.
What general manager Doug Melvin has accomplished is just this side of remarkable. In a matter of days, the Brewers have been transformed from a team that had no chance because of its pitching staff to a genuine contender with Greinke and Shaun Marcum added to the rotation.
Greinke, Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and someone else may not match what the Philadelphia Phillies have assembled, but it makes the Brewers very competitive in their own division because Melvin has completely rebuilt the pitching staff without touching the everyday core.
Ryan Braun is still a Brewer. So are Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee and Corey Hart.
And so, too, should Prince Fielder.
Now there is absolutely no incentive to move Fielder before his contract expires after the upcoming season. With Fielder in the
middle of a lineup that is more than occasionally capable of double-digit scoring – but now doesn’t have to shoulder the load because the rotation is suddenly trustworthy and solid – the Brewers are dangerous.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the Brewers’ big moves this month?
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