Zack Greinke: Worth it for the Brewers?

The Milwaukee Brewers got bold and more or less went all in prior to 2011 by dealing a good chunk of their farm system for starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. In the process they lost a number of prospects, including Alcides Escobar (Royals) and Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays) who are having good 2012 seasons.

The Brewers went for broke, and it nearly worked. Image courtesy bleacherreport.com.

Now, just a season and a half later, Greinke is an Angel. So was it worth for the Brewers?

In getting Greinke the Brewers gave up a major league ready shortstop in Escobar, who had shown a great glove but uncertain bat in his lone full season in Milwaukee (.235/.288/.326 in 2010). Escobar now has paired that still excellent glove with a solid bat, and is turning in a fringe All-Star type season in 2012 (.301/.341/.414, 4 HR, 23 2B). Would he be an upgrade over Alex GonzalezCody Ransom and Cesar Izturis? Absolutely.

But that doesn’t mean the Brewers made the wrong choice, even if Jake Odorizzi and Lorenzo Cain (the other players in that trade that remain with the Royals) turn into productive big leaguers.

Doug Melvin and the Brewers front office knew they had a rare opportunity with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun both on the roster. After locking up Braun the writing was on the wall that despite Milwakuee’s best efforts, Fielder would almost certainly leave after the 2011 season. Knowing they’d have at least one season with two MVP-caliber bats in the lineup, the Brewers went for broke in dealing for starting pitching to round out the team.

In the end it worked out for Milwaukee, even if they didn’t end up with a World Series title in 2011. They were able to win the Central Division behind an excellent season from Greinke in which he pitched 170 innings and  posted a 2.98 FIP and ridiculous 10.54 K/9 rate. This got them into the crapshoot that is the MLB playoffs, and they even won the NLDS (even if he himself didn’t have a good postseason).

The Brewers had a rare shot to field a complete team that was actually capable of winning the World Series, and they took a shot. You can’t fault them for that, even if they lost a few potential starters for a season and a half of Greinke. The haul they got for Greinke is considered solid but not spectacular, and they still can recoup some of their losses if one or more of those players becomes a contributor.

 

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