Earlier this morning it was nothing more than a rumor, a few short hours later it is a reality. The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals this morning. This off-season the Brewers number one priority was to improve the starting pitching and this is a huge way too do it. Every major sports outlet is reporting that the Brewers will be adding Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt. In order to make this deal they had to part with some young talent; SS Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain, and minor league pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi. Several reports have suggested that Jeremy Jeffress is also included in the deal but that has not been confirmed as of yet.
By adding Greinke, the Brewers have instantly become a contender in the National League Central division. Greinke, Gallardo, and Marcum will be a solid 1-2-3 punch for the Brewers rotation. Should they make the playoffs, this also becomes a very scary group of gentlemen for opposing teams to face. Greinke gives us a certain amount of “fear factor”. In 2009 Greinke won the AL Cy Young award posting a 16-8 record with a mind-numbing 2.18 ERA. In 2010 he had a much more pedestrian campaign, but it was no worse than any other pitcher in the Brewers rotation had last season.
This could be the biggest trade in team history! The CC deal will remain #1 until we see how this year plays out, but how could you not be optimistic about this. Over the coming days, as more facts come to light, we will probably analyze this deal to within inches of death. Let me be the first to talk about what we might have given up.
Alcides Escobar – A guy with an amazing upside, but after his first year in the league he posted a .235 batting average. To say that he was a budding superstar would be a bold-faced lie. That is not to say in the future he can’t be a great player, but as my grandma says “The proof is in the pudding”. Escobar’s pudding was not as good as advertised, but he is still young and we could regret this trade sometime down the road. At this very moment though, I have no problem parting with Escobar.
Lorenzo Cain– This is a guy who I was really excited to see in action for a full season. He dazzled us with his amazing range in center field and also did a pretty good job with the stick. He posted a .306 batting average in 43 games after being called up from Triple A this season. He also had 11 doubles and 7 stolen bases in that same time-frame. Cain is a piece that I am sorry to see go, but I felt the same way about Tony Gwynn Jr. and we all know how that turned out (good for us). In a recent interview he disclosed that he was looking forward to being in Milwaukee this season. Unfortunately for him, the signing of Carlos Gomez a day earlier sealed his fate. Sad to see him go, but I appreciate the sacrifice he is making for the greater good of my team.
Jake Odorizzi– The highest ranked pitcher in our farm system. Whenever you part with a prospect there is no way to know what you gave up. Like many Brewers writers I was excited by the potential of Odorizzi, but you just can not know how they will perform at the major league level. I felt the same way when we gave up Matt LaPorta, but so far he has not done anything other worldly for the Indians. Who knows? Odorizzi might never even see a major league field, but I can guarantee you Greinke will.
Now, I have heard that Jeffress is in the deal, but I have also heard that it is a player to be named later. I have no doubt that we will know more by tomorrow.
If you are a life-long Brewers fan like me, this is the best early Christmas present I could have received. Now I can let my optimism run like Usain Bolt on crack. Last night I went to bed still wondering how we could fill our final rotation spot, this morning I woke up to find that we have just made ourselves REAL contenders. Our lineup will still produce runs with Weeks, Hart, McGehee, Fielder, and Braun. Merry Christmas Crew fans!!!