Greinke and the Rangers
I listened to yesterday’s game with grand anticipation. The Zack Greinke trade rumors began swirling, the story purportedly that the Brewers will trade their prized righty if they are unable to extend him. Before the game started, word leaked that the Texas Rangers organization was scouting Greinke in Cincinnati. Even Joe Block added into the fun, momentarily noting that Greinke was not pulled from his start due to his performance — of course, Block added that Greinke was simply pulled so the Brewers could attempt to score more runs. All the while, my mind was churning.
The Texas Rangers’ organization intrigues every Brewers fan because of their sizeable gang of prospects. Shortstop Jurickson Profar is one of the very best prospects in the game, holding his own in the AA Texas League at age 19 and exhibiting a strong set of baseball smarts. Brewers fans immediately gravitate toward Profar — it’s only fair for the Rangers to trade to one of our organizational needs, right? — but there are a gang of other Rangers prospects that offer some intrigue. The Rangers recalled Leonys Martin from their PCL farm, and the outfielder is currently tearing up the big leagues, batting 5-11 with 2 doubles and 2 triples since June 24. Southpaw hurler Martin Perez, and 3Bs Mike Olt and Christian Villanueva round out the BaseballAmerica Top 100 for the Rangers’ organization. Needless to say, most Brewers fans’ eyes are as wide as grapefruits — I’ll take Profar, Olt, and Alexi Ogando for Greinke, Nyjer Morgan, and Taylor Green, to go, please! THANKFULLY, the Texas Rangers blogosphere came to the rescue yesterday afternoon, noting GM Jon Daniels’ stated disinterest in the trade market for pitching. Joey Matschulat tracked the Greinke escalation, including a now-famous Twitter exchange between Keith Law and our very own Ryan Topp:
For three months of Greinke & no picks? I say crazy talk. RT @RyanTopp: Mike Olt straight up for Zack Greinke. Crazy talk or fairish value?
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 27, 2012
Here we have a couple of roadblocks in our ultimate destination of Profar + any/every other Rangers prospect possible for Greinke, but that’s not a bad thing. I’ve written about the potential trade value for right-handed starters over the last week or so, and it stands to reason that Greinke might not return what everyone expects; this does not necessarily mean someone won’t overpay for Greinke’s services if they panic or get into a bind, but there are good reasons to temper our expectations about potential trade returns.
In the Rangers’ case, as noted in Matschulat’s post and the following conversation, Daniels can simply sit back with Roy Oswalt, wait for his injured starters to return, and/or insert Ogando (who started last year for the Rangers) if he really needs to. While any follower of Doug Melvin knows a good press-face when they see one — apparently Daniels has one of those, too — there is a lot of truth to the idea that the Rangers do not truly need pitching this year. Unfortunately, we need their top prospects more than they need three months of our top righty.
So, that’s the first real day of Greinke hype, and I gather we’ll have a lot more. Scouts will show up at Greinke’s starts, which shouldn’t really be news — one Texas Rangers follower noted that the Rangers have probably scouted Greinke for three years; why not send another scout to check him out this year? I gather that we’ll see every contender thrown in to the Greinke rumor mill — the Nationals are a logical choice, Google says the Braves “love” Greinke, the Yankees will be there, etc. And, we’ll jump in each and every time, hoarding as many top prospects as possible.
Part of me says, “end it now, Zack!” Goodness, just sign the contract extension! Of course, everyone should remember that the Brewers are the only team on the planet that can claim draft picks to compensate for losing Greinke, too. This morning, of course, our very own J.P. Breen said it best:
Still, considering Mark Attanasio has strived to maintain a competitive culture in Milwaukee, I’m not completely convinced the Brewers’ owner will sign off on selling a big name such as Zack Greinke. Or, if they decide to make him available, the asking price will be so high that potential trade partners backpedal from the discussions.
Oh, what a summer!
FUN WITH MATH
A word problem to ponder this afternoon!
In December 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies traded three prospects to the Toronto Blue Jays for one year of Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays traded one of those prospects for Brett Wallace (BA #27), and for 2010 BaseballAmerica ranked the other two prospects as #81 and #25, respectively. If the return for one year of the best pitcher in baseball was worth a median #27 prospect, how much is Zack Greinke worth?
Weeks’ Hitting Chart
I suppose you all are tiring of my Zack Greinke / Rickie Weeks topics lately, but it’s not my fault they’re just so damn interesting. Yesterday, Weeks knocked a home run to centerfield, driving in Corey Hart and starting the scoring for the day (actually, those were the Brewers’ winning runs; the Reds never tied the Brewers, and the Brewers never trailed after those runs. If you follow many teams’ wins throughout the baseball season, it’s interesting just how frequently the winning runs are scoring within the first few innings).
Weeks’ batting approach and performance is stabilizing, as he’s working from hot stretch to patient stretch to brief slump since the last week of May. Overall, he’s batting .229/.341/.352 since the Brewers traveled to Arizona, and while that leaves room for improvement from Weeks, it’s a serviceable batting line for a second baseman in the National League.
The home run to centerfield solidified Weeks’ batting results over the last month, as the Brewers’ second baseman is knocking the ball all over the field.
FIP / Efficiency Tales
Greinke pitched another strong outing for the Brewers yesterday, allowing only two runs over six innings. The start was uncharacteristic for the righty, as he only struck out three Reds, while allowing one walk and one home run. Yet, Greinke limited the damage, as he and the Brewers’ defense only allowed four hits on 19 batted balls in play (not bad!).
Given the Brewers’ overall defensive efficiency of .668, the idea of a starting pitcher receiving strong defensive support seems unbelievable. Yet, the Brewers’ starting pitchers have received rather efficient defense over the course of the season.
Starters: 0.63 FIPratio, 3.56 FIPConstant (449 IP, 4.19 runs average)
Relievers: 0.49 FIPratio, 4.75 FIPConstant (230 IP, 5.24 runs average)
2012 NL SP: 0.78 FIPratio, 3.57 FIPConstant (7194.7 IP, 4.35 runs average)
2012 NL RP: 0.73 FIPratio, 3.59 FIPConstant (3485.7 IP, 4.32 runs average)
The story of the Brewers’ inability to win late games typically falls squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen. However, the Brewers’ defensive efficiency falters significantly once the relievers enter the game. This could be explained by any number of factors; one might even suggest that since relievers are typically worse pitchers on the whole, they could be expected to allow batted balls in play that are more difficult for defenders to field. However, I’m not sure how much mileage that hypothetical argument gains against Brewers relievers, who are typically controlling their pitching elements better than the National League:
Brewers relievers (100 IP): 99.57 K, 46.96 BB, 8.26 HR
NL relievers (100 IP): 93.41 K, 42.17 BB, 10.24 HR
If the Brewers’ relievers are walking slightly more batters than their NL counterparts, they’re also limiting the damage by allowing fewer home runs and striking out more batters.
With an equal defensive performance behind them, we might reasonably expect the Brewers’ relievers to have allowed 30 fewer runs to this point in the season. That’s a staggering number; the Brewers have yet to play 30 one-run games to this point in the season, and those 30 extra runs are good for approximately one extra run per seven relief appearances.
Perhaps the questions we should ask of the Brewers from this point forward is not how they will realign the bullpen, but also how they will utilize defensive replacements to maximize late game performance.
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2012.
Baseball Time in Arlington. Joey Matschulat and Jason Parks, 2012.
Lone Star Ball. Vox Media, Inc., 2012.
Texas Leaguers. Trip Somers, 2009-2012.
Joe Robbins / Getty Images. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1229667-mlb-trade-rumors-brs-5-potential-deals-to-get-zack-greinke-out-of-milwaukee/page/3
Jesse Tinsley. http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2010/sep/07/spokane-indians-advance-league-championship-series/