I'm sure by now that you've heard the Milwaukee Brewers have traded for SP Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals. The Brewers lose OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, SP Jake Odorizzi (pitched for the Timberrattlers last season) and SP Jeremy Jeffress (bullpen duty for the Brewers towards the end of last season).
This is huge! Let me say that again, this is HUGE!!!! Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio have just announced that the Crew is now playing to win in 2011 and that the World Series is their goal. With Prince Fielder being a Brewer for one more season, the time is now to make a run and for all of Melvin's flaws, he understands that completely. Give Melvin credit, the Brewers needed pitching to compete and he got it this offseason.
Look at the starting rotation for the Brewers now:
1. Zack Greinke 2. Yovani Gallardo 3. Shaun Marcum 4. Randy Wolf 5. Chris Narveson
I would take that starting five up against anyone in the National League, with the exception of the Phillies, and argue that it's as good if not better. Then I think about the offense and I start to get those warm playoff feelings in my stomach. I don't remember ever being this excited for baseball in December (especially with the Patriots playing as well as they are).
I've already heard from friends that they are worried about giving up the players that the Brewers did. I think Cain is the big loss right now. He looked ready to become the CF of the future for the Crew but now we don't know who that will be. It's not going to be Carlos Gomez, I'm pretty sure about that. Losing Escobar doesn't really bother me. His defense is what will be missed. We didn't see him play offensively as well as he did in the minors so I'm not stressing about losing his bat in the lineup. If he turns out to be a .300 hitter and steal 40 bases in the future, I guess we can complain about losing him but that's not the type of player he is right now. Jeffress was going to be a bullpen guy and the Brewers have many of those pieces in place already. He was drafted as a starter but never really had a second pitch, he's a fastball guy. Maybe he becomes a closer prospect in Kansas City but we already have one in Milwaukee. Odorizzi had a great year for the Wisconsin Timberrattlers but I would think he's at least 2 years away from being a starter in the majors and that's if he continues to progress rapidly each season. Keep this in mind, almost everytime the Brewers have a top pitching prospect, something goes wrong. Odorizzi was not a guarantee but it's tough to give up a future pitching prospect.
The other player not talked about in the trade is Yuniesky Betancourt. He plays SS and will take over for Escobar unless Melvin goes out and gets a veteran free agent. Betancourt isn't as good defensively as Escobar but his offensive production should be a step up. Here are his stats from last year:
Compare those to Escobar's:
Betancourt is significantly better, or at least was last season, in every category except OBP and they were exactly the same. You improve offensively but might suffer a bit defensively. Now Craig Counsell hasn't decided what he wants to do yet, so if he comes back to the Brewers, you would think he would see time at SS as well.
I said many times this offseason that unless the Brewers got two quality starting pitchers, it wouldn't matter what other moves they made. Melvin got what the fans wanted, now it's up to the players. I can't wait for spring training!!!!!