Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Greinke Trade Question

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Zack Greinke at photo day 2010. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images North America

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Keith Law sometimes.  I think he’s a pretty darn good talent evaluator and there’s a reason he had a front office job (and now the scouting analysis job).  He even once responded to an article follow-up email I sent him where I thought he was bashing Bowden’s moves a bit to heavily (ironic in that i’m now clearly on the anti-Bowden track as he was all along).  However, I think he over-analyzes and is a bit TOO stat heavy sometimes, and I believe he over-values certain players.

In yesterday’s chat on ESPN (insider only, apologies), there were a few Washington related questions.  Here was one that I couldn’t quite believe though:

Joseph (Sacramento, CA) asks, “J.Zimmermann, Espinosa, Burgess, Detwiler for Greinke? Does this work for both sides?”

Klaw answer: “It certainly works for Washington.”

Jordan Zimmermann, Espinosa, Burgess and Detwiler for Greinke straight up.  I say, no way.  I have to disagree with Law here.

That’s trading your current #2 pitcher, your anticipated starting 2nd baseman, your best OF prospect not named Bryce Harper, and a prospect lefty starting pitcher/former 1st round draft choice (who may not have great MLB stats but is a lefty who throws mid 90s) for a potential #1 starter.  I say Potential because, if you look at Greinke’s career numbers they’re not exactly overwhelming.  Yes he had a phenomenal 2009.  What happened in 2010?  Era+ of 100 means he was MLB average.  The years before he was a good but not overpowering starter on a bad team (putting up ERA+ figures of 126 and 124; good but not great).   There’s no promise of Greinke returning to that form (though the move to the NL will certainly help).  Is he a Ron Guidry or Rick Sutcliffe pitcher (guys who had one fabulous year and then came back down to earth)?

I think I’d be interested in Greinke (who wouldn’t?) but at a lesser price.  I’d trade Zimmermann and Espinosa for him.  Justification; Zimmermann is indeed a #2 starter quality guy but would be expendable with Greinke in the fold.  Espinosa shows great promise and I like him, but we also have a couple of high-profile 2nd basemen prospects in the minors that would feature soon (Lombardozzi or Kobernus).  Perhaps I’m as guilty as Law in overvaluing our own prospects, but to me Greinke isn’t good enough to merit the trade.  If it was a better “Ace,” someone with a repeated track record of success (Felix Hernandez, Lincecum, Halladay), the haul would be easily worth it.

But for Greinke, all 4 of those guys is too much.

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  1. [...] combo.  Of course, i’m also hearing about possible trades for Zack Greinke (as covered in this blog posting) or Matt Garza.  I’d love to have either guy of course, but don’t want to give up the [...]

  2. [...] is ESPN insider only) and the trade proposal was Zimmermann, Espinosa, Burgess and Detwiler.  I wrote about this theoretical deal at the time, saying it was too much to give [...]

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