The idea of Zack Greinke toeing the rubber at Yankee Stadium as a member of the New York Yankees does little to stifle strong opinions. On one hand, some fans see Zack Greinke as a starting pitcher with dominant skills that would be able to slot seamlessly into the top of the New York Yankees’ rotation. On the other hand, Zack Greinke receives treatment for social anxiety disorder and many fans have concerns about his ability to handle the pressure of New York City emotionally. Most of these fans don’t have a real understanding of SAD and don’t know what challenges it presents in relation to playing Major League baseball. I don’t know any more than they do so I can’t comment on if Zack Greinke would or would not have more trouble operating as a member of the New York Yankees than any other team. I do know that he would be a nice upgrade for the starting rotation though.
Why Zack Greinke?
The only thing that Greinke has done over the past four seasons is deliver strong – if not dominant – production. If it weren’t for an oblique strain (I’m pretty sure that was the injury) that kept Greinke out of action for the early portion of 2011, we would be talking about a guy who has delivered four straight seasons of 200+ innings with glowing peripherals. Even if you disregard his Hall of Fame caliber performance in 2009, Greinke still has a sub-3.00 FIP season (2011), a 10+ K/9 season (2011) and a 5+ WAR season (2010) to his credit. The kid clearly has skills.
Greinke primarily works with a fastball (56% of his offerings) that resides in the 92-94 mph range, but it’s not uncommon for him to dial up the heat in to the mid-upper 90′s. He complements the heater with two breaking balls – a slider that he throws 18.7% of the time and curve ball that he throws 16.8% of the time. A change-up rounds out his repertoire, but he only offers that 8.5% of the time. My favorite thing about Greinke besides the strikeouts is the way he pounds the strike zone. He has only averaged 2.29 free passes per nine innings over his career. That’s obviously a positive attribute for a starting pitcher in any division let alone the American League (b)East.
Why MIGHT the Yankees Be Able to Land Greinke?
The Milwaukee Brewers went all in for 2011. Armed with a strong offense led by Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and a developing ace in Yovani Gallardo, the Brew Crew sent some of their top young talent to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Greinke. That one-two punch atop the rotation was a big factor in their ability win the division and advance to the NLCS. Unfortunately for them, their World Series hopes fell short last season and they will be hard pressed to make a run in 2012. Ryan Braun looks like he’s going to miss the first 50 games of the season and it is not likely that Prince Fielder will be back either.
Even though an extra wild card spot is up for grabs this season, I’m not very bullish on the Brewers’ chances. The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds will present a stiff challenge in the National League Central while the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals figure to be the early favorites for the remaining playoff spots. I don’t think the Brewers are going to concede anything at this point, but if they’re out of the mix by the Trade Deadline I could see them moving off some pieces. Greinke would be a logical place to start since he’d only be under contract for two more months by that point.
I’m a big fan of Zack Greinke and am absolutely in favor of the Yankees making a run at the right-hander. The price might be fairly stiff because of his talent, but the fact that he’s due to hit free agency after the season could keep the return in a reasonable range.