Revisiting Greinke.

I was not interested in an off-day.  That was irritating.

I gave Steelers-Titans the chance to fill the void, but all it did was remind me that What We Play For was taking the day off.

I stared at the Venezuela 13, USA 9 World Cup box score, ignoring the final score and fixing my gaze on the Justin Smoak line – 4 for 6, two home runs, two doubles, five RBI, two runs – but that helped for a minute or two, at best.

To distract myself last night, I tried not to think about this weekend set of three against the Mariners and instead turned my attention back to a topic that I hatched last summer: The idea of making Zack Greinke a Texas Ranger.

Piecing together a few things, chronologically:

June 20, 2008 Newberg Report:

Which team says no: Saltalamacchia, Eric Hurley, John Mayberry Jr., and Warner Madrigal to Kansas City for Zack Greinke (who was then 6-4, 3.33 for the season, and 27-39, 4.40 for his career)?

August 27, 2008 Newberg Report:

Saltalamacchia…[Matt] Harrison or Hurley…Mayberry or [Nelson] Cruz…Joaquin Arias…and Zach Phillips or Carlos Pimentel or Miguel De Los Santos or Geuris Grullon or Julio Santana or Matt Nevarez…for Greinke and Ramon Ramirez.  Are we talking?

October 6, 2008 Newberg Report:

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, in a note regarding the decision facing the Royals on whether to trade righthander Zack Greinke, reports that Texas “made a big offer for him before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.”  According to Rosenthal, Kansas City says it won’t move Greinke unless overwhelmed.

January 27, 2009 Newberg Report, the day after Greinke signed a new multi-year deal with Kansas City:

The first two years of Zack Greinke’s four-year, $38 million extension with the Royals apparently contain “very minor” no-trade protection, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.  As for 2011 and 2012, when the righthander is set to make $13.5 million annually, the no-trade clause apparently goes away, and one league executive told Rosenthal: “He’s going to get traded in one of the thirteen-and-a-halfs, unless he wins a Cy Young Award before then.  And he could.”

August 31, 2009:

Kansas City exercises general manager Dayton Moore’s option for 2011 and extends his contract through 2014.

September 5, 2009:

Greinke allows no Angels earned runs (one unearned) over eight innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.22.  But he gets no decision as Los Angeles beats the Royals, 2-1.  Greinke’s win-loss record remains 13-8.  The rest of the Royals staff: 42-77 – a win percentage that would extrapolate to a 57-105 season.

September 6, 2009:

MLB.com’s Victor Rojas on Twitter: “royals have lack of mlb talent/depth & some bad contracts too – it’s time to seriously consider trading greinke for gaggle of players”

No sense in rehashing Greinke’s worth.  I’ve spent enough time on that the last 15 months.  At age 25 he’s younger than Brandon McCarthy and Doug Mathis, the same age as Guillermo Moscoso and Luis Mendoza, and for me he’s as great a technician as any starting pitcher in the American League.  

And now Moore has job security.  Lots of it.

So would he follow Rojas’s suggested blueprint, one not unlike the plan in Texas that started with the 2007 trade of Mark Teixeira, and move Greinke for a slew of players with whom he can accelerate things for the Royals, who have proven this season that they can hold down the AL Central cellar comfortably and hurtle toward 100 losses even with a Cy Young-caliber season out of Greinke?  

It would stand to reason that Moore’s contract extension, which will keep him on Kansas City’s payroll two years after Greinke is almost certainly going to be on someone else’s, makes a winter Greinke trade at least a little more likely than it might have been a month ago, even if it’s still a longshot.

What would it take?  No less than it would have taken to get Roy Halladay.  

The strength of the Royals’ horizon is on the infield corners (where Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer figure in, with one likely settling in at DH and another, perhaps Moustakas, moving to a corner outfield spot) and in the rotation, where behind Greinke are, among others, Luke Hochevar, prospects Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, and Chris Dwyer and, assuming he signs, Aaron Crow.  Kansas City desperately needs help up the middle, which is what Texas keyed on in part with the Teixeira trade – picking off players developed in the Atlanta system while Moore was the Braves’ director of player personnel and then assistant general manager.

Moore wouldn’t need to rely on Royals area scout Rick Schroeder to recommend Derek Holland, a player Schroeder was partly responsible for Texas drafting when he held a similar position with the Rangers.  Holland and Neftali Feliz will be the first players Moore would ask Texas for.  Among Schroeder’s other draft recommendations from his Rangers days were Frisco reliever Brennan Garr and Frisco infielder Renny Osuna, but neither would figure into a blockbuster deal (unless tacked on, as lefthander Julian Cordero was when Texas added the Class southpaw to the Francisco Cordero-Laynce Nix-Kevin Mench package to get Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz in 2006).

Royals manager Trey Hillman’s time as Rangers director of player development and Royals minor league skipper Darryl Kennedy’s time managing on the Texas farm were long enough ago that none of the players they had here would fit the profile of what Kansas City would be looking to add.

But that’s an elementary way of looking at things, anyway.  In today’s game, teams’ scouting coverage is such that organizations have a book on just about every player in every system.  Yes, from time to time there’s a Dr. Keith Meister-Darren O’Day history that can add a layer to the evaluation process, but deals don’t turn on past connections.

Plus, with Kansas City sharing Surprise with Texas, and fielding AA and AAA teams that compete in the same leagues as Rangers affiliates, the Royals obviously have a convenient perch from which to keep tabs on young Rangers players.  The Royals have recently picked up Tug Hulett, Travis Metcalf, John Bannister, Manny Pina, and Tim Smith from Texas, for instance.

But that doesn’t mean Moore may not have a soft spot for a player like Saltalamacchia or Harrison, both of whose pro careers he was in charge of getting underway back in 2003.  Shame they’re both going to end the 2009 season at less than full health.

So here we go:

Let’s say Texas had to give up (1) Kansas City’s choice of righthander Tommy Hunter or lefthander Martin Perez; (2) righthander Wilmer Font; (3-4) Kansas City’s choice of either outfielder Julio Borbon and hitter Max Ramirez – or outfielders Nelson Cruz and Engel Beltre; and (5) shortstop Leury Garcia to get Greinke and, say, reliever Juan Cruz (owed $3.25 million in 2010 and a $500,000 buyout in 2011).  Tack on (6) Garr as well.

You in?  Which team walks away?

We now return to our regularly scheduled Pennant Race, already in progress.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

1 Comment

Martin Perez, Cruz, Golsen and Arias for Grienke
This addresses four weaknesses of the Royals.
Add on players could be a mix of Ramirez, Passano or Harrison.
The Royals need a lot of help and trading one player won’t address all their problems. They are going to pay for a bullpen. It has killed them this year not to have anyone out there.
That leaves us Murphy(RF), Bourbon(CF), Hamilton(LF),
and hopefully Byrd for CF with either Bourbon and Hamilton rotating and Hamilton picking up DH role. Minor leaguers on their way are Golsen and Beltre.
Any takers on this deal?

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