Zack Greinke’s Cracked Rib Is Enough to Throw Off Milwaukee’s All-in Effort

A bad fall in a pickup basketball game could be enough to derail Milwaukee’s go-for-broke season. The Brewers, who are facing the reality of losing Prince Fielder after the year, decided to trade several prospects to acquire pitching help this off-season. They reeled in Zack Greinke from Kansas City and Shaun Marcum from Toronto to bolster their effort to win it all. But their plan can already be in trouble before the season has even started.

Greinke suffered a cracked rib after falling while chasing after a rebound during a pickup basketball game. He didn’t think he was hurt too badly when it happened two weeks ago so nothing went reported, but a recent MRI revealed the crack. Typical healing time is 4-6 weeks and Greinke is two weeks into the process. Another two weeks off would be the best-case scenario, but Greinke is already expected to miss the first few weeks of the season. Once you factor in the arm strength he needs to rebuild and stamina that is generally gained during spring training, it puts Greinke even further behind schedule.

In a competitive NL Central where the Reds are poised to repeat, the Cubs look better, and the Cardinals are always difficult, it’s not the start Milwaukee wants. Dropping a few extra games in April that they might not have had Greinke been healthy could be enough to keep them out of the post-season. Hopefully they will play well enough to keep the injury from being an issue. But if we see Yovani Gallardo or Shawn Marcum go down next, we’ll know it’s not their year much like it doesn’t seem to be St. Louis’.

Brewers Dangerously Give Up the Farm to Win Now with Greinke, Marcum

By now all of you know that the Royals traded Zack Greinke to the Brewers in exchange for much of their top talent. The deal sent Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt — basically an incidental piece — and cash to Milwaukee for two Major League ready players in shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. The Royal also received two right-handed pitching prospects — Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odirizzi — the latter widely regarded as the Brewers’ top pitching prospect.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Brewers sent their top prospect, second baseman Brett Lawrie, to the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum — a move thought to pave the way for Greinke’s trade to Toronto. In a two-week span, the Brewers have simultaneously strenghtend their team considerably for next season and seemingly bankrupted their farm system — not to mention the two players who had already reached the majors.

As recently as last season, Escobar was considered a top prospect — though last year, in his first full season in the majors, he hit only .235 with a .288 on-base percentage. At 24, Escobar still has plenty of room for growth. Betancourt, who will be 29 when the season starts, is hitting .272 for his career and has an on-base percentage of just .292. It appears that he has hit his ceiling, and it’s not very high. Betancourt does however offer slight upgrades defensively and in terms of power.

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Did Blog Comment Tip Bernie’s Crew Blogger Off to Zack Greinke Trade?

Late Saturday evening, we passed along word of a reported Zack Greinke to the Brewers trade. The report was met with skepticism because a fan blog called “Bernie’s Crew” published the news, while no mainstream reporters had any information on the deal. Between Greinke’s trade demands and Milwaukee’s candidacy to make a deal, we thought the report was significant and it turned out to be accurate.

Credit goes to Bernie’s Crew blogger Jim Breen for blowing away the competition when it came to the Greinke trade. He was ahead of information men like Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, and even Brewers reporter Tom Haudricort. So how did Breen come out of nowhere to break the news? He told LBS in an email “I do not feel comfortable giving much information on my source, as I do want to adhere to his wishes as far as anonymity and the like. I was simply lucky enough to make the right connections at the right time.” His wishes to protect his source makes complete sense. But did he get tipped off to the news by a commenter on his blog? Sure seems like a possibility.

As D.J. Short informed us via Fantasy Fix, a commenter left this informative comment on a Bernie’s Crew post Saturday afternoon:

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Reports: Zack Greinke Traded to Milwaukee Brewers for Escobar, Cain

The consistent losing in Kansas City took its toll on pitcher Zack Greinke who eventually demanded a trade from the Royals. Greinke was so serious about playing elsewhere he fired his agent on Friday, helping to ensure a deal would get done. Now, according to a fan blog on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Web site, Greinke has been traded to the Brewers.

Jim Breen says the Brewers and Royals have reached a preliminary agreement that sends Greinke to Milwaukee for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and pitching prospect Jeremy Jeffress. He also says the Royals are throwing in Yuniesky Betacourt and cash as part of the deal. On Milwaukee’s Andrew Wagner says pitcher Jake Odorizzi is also heading to Kansas City as part of the trade.

No other reporters have been able to confirm the trade, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Brewers came out of nowhere to acquire a pitcher with little reporting surrounding the move. Tread cautiously until there’s official confirmation of the news, but recognize Zack Greinke will likely be traded and that Milwaukee is one of the candidates.

If the Brewers indeed have added Zack Greinke, their rotation has undergone the biggest improvement this offseason than any other team. Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Yovani Gallardo is a pretty healthy 1-2-3 combination and it would make Milwaukee a legit contender in the NL Central.

Royals Losing Wearing on Zack Greinke

If there’s anything Royals fans have to look forward to it’s two things: watching games in the picturesque Kauffman Stadium and days when Zack Greinke starts. While Kauffman Stadium may be around the rest of the century, Greinke is only under contract with the team through 2012. Making matters worse for Royals fans, Greinke has made it clear that he’s sick of the losing and constant “rebuilding” going on within the organization that has put together just one winning season since 1993. Check out the strong words from last year’s AL Cy Young winner courtesy of The Kansas City Star:

“It’s not real exciting to have to go through it again,” he said. “It’s been six years with me, and most people (who are Royals fans) have been through a lot more than I have. But for me, it’s the third complete re-start/rebuilding phase.”

“I like Kansas City,” Greinke said. “It’s a town that fits me pretty well. But I don’t know…at least put a team together that has a fighting chance (to win).”

It’s a tough situation for Greinke. He probably would love to remain loyal to the only organization he’s known, but consistent losing sucks. As a pitcher, half your stats are based on the team around you; it’s difficult to get wins when your team doesn’t hit. Should Greinke choose to pursue free agency when his deal is up in 2012 (or request a trade), nobody will blame him. Greinke has been more than fair to the organization and even expressed confidence in the franchise by signing an extension. At this point everyone is hoping that the organization puts out a competitive team before too long. We all know the fans deserve it at the least.

Greinke doubts Royals’ rebuilding plan will bear fruit soon [The Kansas City Star]

Zack Greinke Ends the Cy Young Debate

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, most starters figure to get only two more outings in the year, if that. Baseball has also continued its trend of not having pitchers win many games considering only CC Sabathia and Adam Wainwright have a shot at 20 wins (both have 18). So coming off a win against the Red Sox last night, Zack Greinke solidified his position as the Cy Young winner in the AL.

Greinke pitched six scoreless two-hit innings to continue his stretch of five straight brilliant starts in which he has a 0.25 ERA and 32 strikeouts against just eight walks. Prior to that five outing stretch, Greinke struck out 15 Indians in a 6-2 win. He has been by far the best pitcher in baseball this year there shouldn’t even be an argument. But since there is one, let’s list all the reasons why he should be the undisputed winner.

Greinke’s 2.08 ERA is not just the best in the AL, it’s the best in all of baseball, by a strong margin. His WHIP is tops in the AL, he’s second to Justin Verlander in strikeouts, second to Roy Halladay in complete games, and the only pitcher in baseball with three shutouts. Yes Greinke’s win-loss record isn’t stellar at 15-8, but consider that the Royals are the 5th worst team in MLB and nobody else has a standout record that blows you away.

In the end, you really shouldn’t have to look farther than Greinke’s super-low 2.08 ERA to know that he’s the Cy Young winner. Consider that John Smoltz, Brad Penny, and Cliff Lee all looked much better and posted strong statistics upon changing from the AL to the NL and you can see how much more difficult it is to pitch in the AL. Forget how few wins Greinke has — he is the best pitcher in baseball this year.

Will the Media Keep Us from Enjoying Zack Greinke’s Excellent Season?

Zack Greinke’s emergence last year on top of his impressive start to the season this year has caused him to receive plenty of attention nationally. As is the way of the day, people can’t just settle for a player dominating his sport — that’s not good enough. Oh no, the media needs a story to grasp onto, milk, and suck dry until the point that it’s no longer enjoyable to hear about that player’s accomplishments. I heard from fans during college basketball season who said that Stephen Curry was one of the most enjoyable players to watch last year during the tournament but the media overdid it so much this year that it was no longer fun to watch him. I said as much about Josh Hamilton last year — I really was on board with what he was doing but the media went into overkill and ruined it. I think we’re already hitting that point with Zack Greinke.

In case you’ve missed it, Greinke is 6-0 this year with three complete games and two shutouts in six starts. He’s only allowed three runs (two earned) in 45 freaking innings pitched. He’s allowed just 38 men to reach base which is almost absurdly dominating. The guy’s been awesome and he’s been a huge reason why the Royals are leading the AL Central. Now rightfully so, he’s already received attention and due by Sports Illustrated who put him on the cover and gave him a nice featured article. Since adding KC-based writer Joe Posnanski to their staff, they’ve been on top of all major stories in the midwest-area so it’s no surprise they were first on the national scene to pounce on the Greinke story.

Posnanski’s feature centered on the year off of baseball Greinke took when he was going through social anxiety issues and how Zack’s fighting to overcome the issue. Articles on other sites began highlighting this story and now it seems like all references to him include some words about “what he’s overcome.” Even trying to watch him on the ESPNEWS highlights following his most recent outing I had to hear about his social anxiety story. And this was in a highlight show where all I wanted to see was how he pitched, not hear the background story! I’m just saying that the better he does and the longer this goes on, the worse the coverage is going to get. I really hope the media doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of simply watching a pitcher dominate. That’s all I really want to do — just watch Zack Greinke kick some ass with his 97mph fastball and not have to be reminded every single time he pitches about “how much he’s overcome.” Is that too much to ask?