There was a telling moment in Zack Greinke’s introduction to the local press. He said “The main reason I wanted to get out” and he stopped himself with a smile and made a correction “I mean preferred to get out of Kansas City…” and he continued.
The first statement was the correct one. He wanted out of Kansas City, the once proud baseball city that was home to one of the true marquee franchises of my youth. Now it is the Pittsburgh of the American League. The team that is there to develop players for other teams while perpetually piling up prospects for a pennant run that never comes.
All the while people complain that their lack of success comes from their small market and revenue, all the while teams with smaller revenues consistently make the post season.
So you can’t blame Greinke for wanting to get out of that purgatory and the Royals dealt him when his value was still high and teams that wanted Cliff Lee were craving a consolation prize.
But after reading Tim Brown‘s article on Yahoo Sports, I lost a little bit of respect for Greinke. He won the Cy Young in 2009 with his slider being his best pitch. And when the Royals stunk as they have every year he pitched in KC, he didn’t throw the slider as much making sure his arm was good and strong to whatever contender he landed with.
Sorry but the Royals drafted him, made him a millionaire many times over and didn’t give up on him when his anxiety disorder made him leave spring training in 2006.
The Royals stood by him as he had to leave baseball for psychological reasons. A team could have said “This clearly isn’t going to work. His head is all messed up.”
They didn’t. They let him work out his issues and let him back in to be in the position to go from “a head case” to “elite ace.”
The Royals deserved a little more than “I’ll save my best stuff for the winner.” And the other contenders in baseball deserved to face Greinke at his best as the Royals could have played spoiler down the stretch.
He checked out. And I guess it was karma that he was dealt to Milwaukee.
Remember all of those years ago when Gary Sheffield was playing for the Brewers? He was a future superstar playing with future Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. But he hated playing in Milwaukee and wanted out and supposedly made errors on purpose to hasten a trade out of town.
He was shipped off to San Diego (and then Florida, and then Los Angeles, then Atlanta, then the Yankees, then Detroit, then the Mets…) and put together a career that at least deserves to be part of the Cooperstown discussion. (And somehow he managed to circumvent the whole steroid stigma despite being as involved in the BALCO accusations as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.)
So one star dogged it to get OUT of Milwaukee.
And today one dogged it to get traded TO Milwaukee.
In a way I guess Greinke was a player to be named MUCH later in the Sheffield trade.
It shows how far the Brewers have come that they are considered to be a destination for someone wanting to win NOW!