Now Escobar and Cain are hitting first and third in the Royals lineup, a lineup going to the World Series, Greinke is in Dodger blue, and Betancourt probably still exists.
The first three hitters in the Royals’ batting order started their big-league careers with the Brewers. Shortstop Alcides Escobar, the leadoff hitter, and No. 3 hitter Lorenzo Cain — the MVP of the ALCS sweep — were sent to Kansas City in December 2010 in the trade for Zack Greinke. The Royals also acquired starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, now with Tampa Bay, and reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who resurfaced in Milwaukee this season and pitched ver well down the stretch.
The Royals’ No. 2 hitter, right fielder Nori Aoki, was traded to KC last winter for reliever Will Smith, a swap that worked out well for both clubs.
Many Brewers fans, still agitated by the team’s late-season collapse that knocked the team from the playoff picture, have sent me messages saying Milwaukee obviously was fleeced in those deals. Of course, few of them complained when Greinke helped the Brewers win a franchise-record 96 games in 2011 and come within two victories of the World Series.
I’m with Tom on this one. I would still make the Greinke trade, knowing what I do now with nearly four years of hindsight behind me. The Brewers didn’t make that trade to compete in 2014, they made that trade to compete in 2011, and they had their best season ever.
That 96-win 2011 was the most fun I’ve ever had as a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. It was far happier than 2014 was hard.
What’s more, the Brewers are in a pretty good position to compete for a playoff spot again in 2015. There are some questions to answer in the bullpen, and on the corners, but most of the roster than was in first place for 150 days is intact and will return next season.
So congratulations to Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain on your trip to the World Series. I would still trade you for Zack Greinke.