The Milwaukee Brewers were forced to trade starter Zack Greinke on July 27 after he turned down the team’s extension offer, plus a second consecutive postseason berth was nowhere in sight. Greinke has struggled with the Los Angeles Angels since the trade and it appears he might have been better off staying with Milwaukee.
In five starts with the Angels, Greinke has posted a 2-2 record with a 5.22 earned run average while surrendering six home runs, 15 walks and averaging 5.5 strikeouts per game. In 21 starts with the Brewers, he went 10-5 with a 3.44 ERA and gave up only seven home runs, even though Miller Park allows its fair share of homers. He also struck out more batters per game while in a Brewers uniform.
Greinke’s last outing provides a reason to believe he is beginning to turn things around with the Angels, but with only five weeks left, it is unknown if it will make a difference in Los Angeles’ postseason run. As for now, the Angels have to be wondering why they traded for Greinke, considering there is a very slight chance they keep him after this year and their playoff hopes are diminishing with every passing day.
Many fans thought Greinke would take a pay cut to stay in Milwaukee, considering how much he enjoyed playing for the Brewers and the success he had pitching at Miller Park. Greinke always said the most important thing to him was playing for a team and in an environment where he felt comfortable pitching. He stated on multiple different occasions that Milwaukee was a place he could be himself and not feel the outside pressure of the media.
Brewers first baseman Corey Hart is someone who does not necessarily care about the money as much as he does playing where he is comfortable lining up every day. Hart believes it was a huge mistake for Greinke not to sign an extension with Milwaukee and that his struggles in Los Angeles are proof of that.
“He was comfortable here and said he liked it here,” he said. “Being comfortable is a big thing for him. It sounded like they made him a good offer. If you’re comfortable, money is not that big of a deal. I tried to tell Zack that when he was here. He’s been struggling and I guarantee you that’s part of it.”
Hart loves playing in Milwaukee and the Brewers are lucky to have such a talented player willing to accept different roles to help the team. Hart enjoys wearing a Brewers uniform so much that he went to general manager Doug Melvin when trade rumors were circulating.
“I told (my manager) to tell Doug I want to stay here,” he said. “I heard my name in some trade rumors. We just put it out there that I’d like to stay, as long as they’ll have me.”
Players such as Hart and MVP Ryan Braun wanting to be a Brewer for life bring much joy to the fans of Milwaukee. As great as it is to have these two players, Brewers fans would prefer to get a couple more talented players to want to spend an extended period in their beloved town.
While Prince Fielder was always a long shot, Greinke always seemed to be the one the Brewers could land long-term. Technically, Milwaukee could still sign the right-hander this offseason, especially since his stock could drop after his poor performance with the Angels. However, when he turned down the extension, he let down a lot of people.
Instead of signing with the Brewers, Greinke is going to bring more attention to him than I think he ever wanted by testing out free agency. I would imagine that if Milwaukee were able to offer him a little more money or one more year on the deal, then he would have signed with them in a heartbeat. However, I would bet he had his manager and agent pressuring him to try free agency and see what kind of deals he could get.
Many teams are going to go after Greinke this winter, but the question is: will he be as comfortable playing for them with the pressure of a big contract then he would be pitching in Milwaukee where he is undefeated at Miller Park and had a fan base that clearly supported him?