Late Saturday night word broke that the Brewers and Royals had agreed to a deal that would send Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. The news was initially met with skepticism, as it hadn't yet been confirmed by a mainstream media source, but it turned out that Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew did indeed have the goods, leading the blogosphere to erupt in excitement that one of its own managed to break a major offseason story. Given Breen's affiliation with the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel I'd imagine Breen has a tad more access to information than, say, your average blogger living in his mother's basement, but it's still a nice feather in his cap.
Greinke has of course been linked to the Yankees all offseason, as many expected the team to make a push for the young righthander if they missed out on Cliff Lee, but I personally never expected the Bombers to consummate a trade for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner. Regardless of whether you believe Greinke can handle New York or not, the Yankees haven't made a significant trade for a an ace-caliber pitcher in years, and I don't get the sense that Brian Cashman is willing to unload his best trade chips now for someone he could theoretically sign for just money and a draft pick in two years. And make no mistake, the Yankees will be in on the free agent Greinke, who will just be coming off his age 28 season after 2012.
Here's what the Brewers are getting in Zack Greinke. While I've included his 2006 and 2007 for graphical purposes, we can throw those years out with regards to analyzing his overall starting performance, as he only made three appearances in '06, and pitched primarily out of the bullpen in 2007.
Greinke was excellent through the 2008 season, but made the jump to elite status with his unreal 2009 campaign (2.16 ERA in 229.1 innings; 205 ERA+). For whatever reason he took a step back in 2010, posting a decidedly average (in fact, his ERA+ was 100) campaign, but there's no reason to expect the young man to not bounce back to the upper echelon of starting pitchers, especially as he'll finally play on a competitive team for the first time in his career and also get to face a pitcher three times a game or so.
I have to say, though Boston and Philadelphia have been showered in accolades for their offseason moves (and rightly so), I really love what the Milwaukees and Oaklands of the world have done to try to improve their teams.
The Brewers had the second-worst starters' ERA in the National League last season, despite receiving another sterling season from Yovani Gallardo (4.6 fWAR). The next two best fWARs in the rotation came from Chris Narveson, with 1.7 despite putting up a 4.99 ERA in 167.2 innings; and Randy Wolf, who contributed a measly 0.7 fWAR in 215.2 innings, which has to be up there with one of the lowest fWARs for a 200-plus-inning season ever. The Brewers now get to slot Greinke and his 2010 5.2 fWAR in the number-one slot, move Gallardo to second in the rotation, and throw Shaun Marcum (3.5 fWAR) third. That's a 6.3-fWAR upgrade in the first three rotation slots alone!
And as far as the A's go, I think they could surprise a lot of people next season -- despite having the best team ERA in the American League, the offense was wretched, and they've gone ahead and made several important moves to address that weakness. While I don't expect the Rangers to go anywhere, I don't know that they'll necessarily run away with the division in 2011, and the AL West looks like it could be wide open for the taking.