Zack Greinke: Looking forward, looking back.
As I sit at my desk eating my pregame meal, realizing that I’m
looking more forward to being at tonight’s game than any in memory that didn’t
fall on Opening Day or in a late-season pennant race, because I do loves me a
great pitching matchup, I thought I’d reissue a report I sent out on September
Have fun tonight.
THE NEWBERG REPORT —
SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
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
What would it take? No less than it would have taken to get
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
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