After learning that highly sought-after pitcher Zack Greinke was traded to Milwaukee yesterday, I came up with this headline instantly. I hope that all Jays fans feel the same way, but I bet there are a lot of disappointed people out there.
I’m not sure why.
I’m not rejoicing because I think Zack Greinke is an overrated, crappy pitcher. On the contrary – he is pretty good.
But there’s the rub: he’s pretty good. I don’t think he’s great. I don’t think he’s outstanding. I don’t think he is a franchise pitcher.
I think that Kyle Drabek has a chance to be all of those things. I also truly believe that Travis Snider has a chance to be all of those things as well (franchise player, not pitcher obviously).
The package of Snider and Drabek, and more, for Greinke seemed like an outrageous price to pay.
Take a look at the below comparison:
Pitcher A, first three career starts: 19 IP, 0 – 1, 2.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7 K, 3.32 K/9
Pitcher B, first three career starts: 17 IP, 0 – 3, 4.76 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.35 K/9
Obviously pitcher A was a bit better. Those numbers belong to Zack Greinke in 2004. But pitcher B (Kyle Drabek in 2010), had much better strikeout numbers, and when you factor in that one of his starts was against the Yankees the numbers aren’t that bad.
I’m not an idiot, and I know that you can’t make any judgments based on such a small sample size. So let’s expand it.
These are Greinke’s career numbers:
60 – 67, 3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
Not too shabby. But don’t forget that he had one outstanding year where he won the Cy Young. He also had one stinker of a season (5 – 17, 5.80 ERA in 2005). If you take out the good and the bad, his average season looks awfully similar to last year: 10 – 14, 4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.4 K/9. Again – good but not fantastic.
True he has been much better after dealing with his well documented social anxiety disorder, but Greinke has publicly stated that he does not want to play in a big market. The last time I looked, New York and Boston both played in the AL East with the Blue Jays. It doesn’t matter that he’s not playing for those teams – he would still be playing against those teams, and in those stadiums much more than he did before.
Then consider Travis Snider. Has he been a bit disappointing so far? Yes, a bit. But he will be only 23 by opening day. He was injured a good chunk of last season. And he finished last season on a tear, hitting .289 with an .818 OPS in September.
Below are the stats for three of the greatest hitters in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays for each player before their 23rd birthday:
Jesse Barfield: .243 avg, .728 OPS, 20 HR, 67 RBI
George Bell: .233 avg, .606 OPS, 5 HR, 12 RBI
Carlos Delgado: .214 avg, .789 OPS, 9 HR, 24 RBI
How about Travis Snider?
.255 avg, .764 OPS, 25 HR, 74 RBI
As far as I remember, Barfield, Bell, and Delgado turned out pretty well. I would bet that Snider will be right behind them.
So go ahead Milwaukee, take Greinke.
We’ll keep our future intact.