Every once in a while, Gabe takes the opportunity to gripe about what Brian Sabean is doing to his beloved Giants, so I'd be remiss to leave Doug Melvin out of the fray. Douglas has ticked me off many a time over the last few years, whether it was giving Randy Wolf $8 million per year because he was a LWAP (lefty-with-a-pulse) or being extraordinarily belligerent to the press when asked about the prospect of trading Prince Fielder. He has cleverly avoided the glaring weaknesses in the pitching staff by trumpeting the achievements of the once-promising Brewers minor-league reservoir of talent, only to watch as they free-swung their way out of on-base percentage and plating the runner on third with two outs left in the inning.
Yet, it might be possible that Melvin made a solid move by netting Zack Greinke.
The damage? Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. Cain, Escobar, and Jeffress had all been prize prospects in the past, but there are plenty of reasons to have qualms about their future. Odorizzi is probably the lesser-known of the bunch, yet has had a promising first couple of years in minor league ball and might pan out as the best of the group.
The qualms about Cain, Escobar, and Jeffress? Cain's a bit north of prospect age at 24, and his best years in minor league ball were half-a-decade ago. He's also another free-swinger who had an impressive little showing last year but does not have a lot of power to match all those strikeouts. Escobar was the prize going into last year, but his stock dropped a little when he made a number of large defensive gaffes early in the year, stole fewer bases than anybody expected, and walked even less. At this point, he projects to be a traditional shortstop with some speed, solid defense, but an average bat. Jeffress torpedoed his prospects early by getting into drug trouble, and has rebounded to a degree, but there is no hiding the fact that he's a lightning-in-a-bottle type that will never keep the walk rate down enough to keep sweat from rolling down Mark Attanasio's temples.
Greinke (Yuniesky Betancourt's included too, though I don't know what he'll bring to the table) is a sabermetrician's darling, and there was much rejoicing when he got the Cy Young despite his win totals. He walks few batters, typically has 3 plus pitches, and has had a steadily rising groundball rate. His 2010 FIP was actually lower than his 2008 season, so the 4.17 ERA was a bit anomalous. Bill James has him projected for a 14-win, ~6 WAR season, and that might still be based on a season with the Royals; if Yovani Gallardo can nail down 13-14 wins on the Brewers, Greinke could easily get 15. The trend lately for teams is to build out from the pitching, and this has the makings of a...dare I say it...awesome move by Douglas.
P.S. Greinke is also locked down for this year and the next. Hopefully, the Brewers can tie him up long-term after they're done pissing away Fielder's trade value and letting him walk.
P.P.S. Looks like Jeffress isn't a lock for being included. If it's a matter that Melvin feels like he can get the deal done without Jeffress, why doesn't he just drop Betancourt and go with the rest?
P.P.P.S. Jeff Zimmerman at Royals Review doesn't like the trade, which means I like the trade.