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Zack Greinke will not be the Yankees’ “Plan B”

Dec 13, 2010, 1:35 PM EDT

Kansas City's Greinke throws a pitch against Tampa Bay during their MLB baseball game in Kansas City

Buster Olney passes along word that, in the event the Yankees don’t get Cliff Lee, they will likely not pursue Zack Greinke as a “Plan B,” which is what many have assumed they’d do. Buster doesn’t say why, but I assume it has to do with the concerns about his makeup/anxiety disorder and, oh yeah, the fact that they’d probably have to give up Jesus Montero just to get the conversation rolling.

To that end, today Jayson Stark details why neither the Yankees nor the Rangers look like great matches for Kansas City in a Greinke trade.  The upshot: it’s going to take a lot of young talent. At the moment, no teams seem all that eager to give up the kind of load the Royals are seeking.

My guess, though: the load the Royals are seeking shrinks with each passing week between now and February.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    If I ran a team, Lee would be my plan B. Yeah, you lose key pieces if you deal for Greinke, but he’s younger, he’s been more successful for a longer period of time, and he’s cheaper.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:52 PM

      Greinke has a lot more question marks for me than Lee. Anxiety disorders are no laughing matter, and, more concretely, most numbers point to him never coming within several neighborhoods of 2009 again. He’s a very good pitcher, but not likely to ever be more than that again.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:58 PM

        Ari, I have anxiety disorder, and I have it bad. If Zack feels comfortable being traded to the team the Royals want to deal him to, he’s a better deal than Lee in my opinion.

        Everyone talks about how terrifying it would be for Zack to play in the Bronx. But you know what? Coming from intense personal experience, a stage is a stage. The fact that you’re out there is the fear itself; that’s what can set you off. In other words, if he can pitch every 5th day in Kansas City, he could, hypothetically speaking, anywhere else.

        What’s key is the staff Zack would deal with. If he found out he’d be dealt to a team with a pitching coach that would handle his anxiety poorly, or ditto with teammates, I guarantee that’s a much bigger factor than playing in a large market.

        When he’s up there on a bad day, I’d bet he doesn’t feel a difference between 20,000 and 40,000 fans. What he feels is the show itself, and if he can handle that now, then this isn’t the factor we all think it is.

      • kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:00 PM

        Not true. He is miserable on a miserable team in KC. Truth be told, that was part of his problem with the anxiety disorder. The team asked him to step up at a very young age. He tried to and failed mostly due to no supporting cast. he got upset with the lack of defense behind him, and wanted to play SS for the team. Coaches said no, and within a couple months Zach was trying to decide if he even wanted to play anymore. There was speculation weather it was more anxiety disorder or just being tired of playing for losers in KC. Then KC made some signings, looked like they were going to compete. Zach signs an extension wins the Cy Young, and before the contract is over Mr. Walmart (David Glass) is selling off any half decent player on the team. I would think any respectable player would be miserable in this town. KC is a great place to live, and the Royals have very good tradition. However, since Mr. Walmart took over the team he has ran it just like a low budget super store.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:02 PM

        kcfanatic seconded what I said without realizing it (maybe). Zack needs to be around people he trusts. If Kansas City treats him, in his own opinion, poorly from a mental health standpoint, then he will refuse and avoid any situation like that again.

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:53 PM

      Ruben Amaro? Is that you?

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:27 PM

        You wish.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:58 PM

      He’s younger that’s true, he’s cheaper that’s true also but better over a longer period of time, not in this lifetime.
      Excluding 2009, Greinke’s career averages are less than impressive. His ERA 4.25 his WHIP over 1.25 ever year and his BAA .257 or higher ever year. I know people don’t believe wins and loses are representative of a pitchers success but in conjunction with the other stats just quoted his win/loses excluding 2009 is 44-59. Certainly not the types of numbers that I think warrant a team trading 4 or 5 “high value” prospects/players for. If Greinke were a singer/musician one might very well call him a “one hit wonder” at this point. That’s just my opinion.

      • kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:12 PM

        Stats can sometimes be misleading. Think about this. His ERA and WHIP is with some of the worst defenses of all time, and worst offenses as well. If you are on a good team with a great defense then there are balls that should be hits, but your defenders make a great play lowering your ERA and WHIP. If you are on a crappy team (some of the blunders during a KC game is just embarrassing as a fan) then you pitch a ground ball that the SS doesn’t get his glove on so its a hit, but 29 other SS’s in the league make the play…You can see how that would influence numbers. Don’t look at numbers, look at game films. The kid is the real deal on a perennial loser. During his Cy Young year he had one of his better supporting casts. He would lose games 1-0 with 0 ER’s or 2-1, or would leave after 8 with o ER’s.

        Also, look this up. He get’s one of the lowest supporting runs from his team compared to others in the league and even all time. Can you imagine the added pressure of having to pitch and knowing that 1 ER may cost you a game? I have to imagine you would press a little and it would inflate your numbers. Put this kid in pin stripes and watch…the league would be in awe of him.

      • joshv02 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:15 PM

        Why would you ever exclude a year of data? If you exclude the past two years, Cliff Lee has a 4.15 lifetime ERA and a 1.3 WHiP. If you exclude lat year, its still a 3.97. None of those numbers mean anything. You never exclude a data sample.

      • Joe - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:36 PM

        By the same token, in seven years Greinke’s ERA has been above 4.26 only once, and that was when he was a 21-year-old suffering from anxiety issues. He was 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA that year. Cliff Lee was playing in the Florida State League when he was 21. What would his major league numbers have looked like?

        Excluding Greinke’s 2005 season, he’s got a career 3.43 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. That’s pretty good.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:59 PM

        Gentlemen, certainly stats can be misleading although in this case I don’t think they are grossly misleading. That’s just my opinion, of course. Many of you choose to think his 2009 numbers/performance are his norm or would be on a better team. I choose to believe that the “other” 5 years (six if you include 2006 where he pitched in 3 games) are the norm and 2009 was the aberration. Until Greinke has another year like or close to 2009 there is no other assumption you can draw. Again, I go back to the comment I made earlier his stats are not those that would warrant a team giving up 4 or 5 “high value” prospects/players in addition to his remaining $27M salary only to potentially lose him to free agency in 2 years if he’s not comfortable pitching for his “new” team. That’s not a risk I think any team should take.

      • kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:34 PM


        How many games have you actually watched Zach pitch? 1, 2, 3? Enough said.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:51 PM

        kcfanatic, how many games have you been to at Yankee Stadium and witnessed how the media and fans treat mediocre performances or failure? As you say, enough said.
        Keep in mind my opinion about the value of Greinke to teams apparently is shared by the majority of GM’s that might have interest in Greinke. As I have yet to read one credible report that Kansas City’s demands are realistic. Every single report I’ve seen or read has clearly indicated KC’s demands are unreasonably high. If Greinke were as good as some of the fans on this site seem to think he and the “bargain” he’s being portrayed as he would be gone by now.

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Greinke has, however, agreed to be traded to any High School team. Or back to college.

  3. yankeesfanlen - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    If Greinke ends up on the Wal Mart clearance rack in February I bet a mystery team will sign him.

  4. kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Grienke does not get cheaper the closer it get’s to February. He gets way, way more expensive the closer it gets to the trade deadline. The guy is locked up for 2 more years. This is not a rent a player. This is not a guy looking for the big payday. This is a guy that wants to win, and would take a fair offer to play for a contender. This is a very signable, Cy Young Award winner that is a great athlete and exciting pitcher. I am surprised that the BoSox haven’t shown interest in him. The GM(Allard Baird) that drafted him to KC is a scout for them now, and is in love with Greinke.

    P.S. This is a guy that’s a decent hitter and would love to play in the National League.

  5. joshv02 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    Perhaps Mystery player is the Yankee’s plan b?

  6. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    I will readily admit that I what I know about “anxiety disorders” you could fit into a peanut shell and still have room for the peanut. But by the same token anyone who thinks their isn’t more pressure for a pitcher to succeed on the Yankees and especially at Yankee Stadium then Kansas City or virtually every other ballpark is either fooling themselves or extremely naive. The NY fans and media will eat Greinke alive if he were to come to NY and have a year like he did in 2010. Unless he’s thick skinned he will fail before he ever gets started. That’s just the way it is.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:29 PM

      UYF – I have anxiety disorder, and I’ve battled it heavily half my life. I agree that the NY media does play a factor, especially if Greinke reads the papers. However, what has the biggest bearing is who he works with, how they make him feel, and how good he still feels taking the stage every 5th day regardless of where he is. Half his starts are at home, half are elsewhere. He’s pitched in the Bronx, he’s pitched in Fenway, he knows what that feels like.

      If he goes to a team, it will be because he trusts the staff and new teammates.

      I expanded on this a bit more above.

      • yankees1996 - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:08 PM

        If you really believe that pitching in Yankee Stadium as a visiting pitcher is the same as being part of the team then you are sadly mistaken and that is a foolish point of view. The kid has no trade clause in his contract and NY is on the list because he knows his limitations and how much he can take and I am pretty sure he will freely admit that he is not going to be happy in the pressure cooker that is New York City. I agree with uyf1950 anyway even in light of your heavy lobbying for Greinke at this point in his career he is only a one year wonder. There have been many good pitchers and players that have not held up to the scrutiny of the NY press and I will hand it to the kid he knows he won’t make it. If the Yankees are going to become involved in trading for a pitcher it needs to be Matt Garza anyway, Greinke is most certainly not worth emptying the farm system for.

      • kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 4:25 PM


        Actually many players will put big market teams in their no-trade clauses. It has nothing to do with media and anxiety. It has to do with renegotiating a contract before trade goes through. Zach gave the Royals a pretty good deal when he signed the extension. He’s not going to give a bog market team that deal. That is the thought process for putting no trade clauses into contracts.

        Also, the Yankees(or whoever) are saying that Zach is not a plan B for them, because they have already talked to KC, and they just don’t have the depth in their farm system to make the trade. Zach will more likely go to a team like Toronto or Tampa. Both teams that think they can compete with NY(but can’t over the long haul). These teams have plenty of good young talent in the minors for KC to choose from. Mark my words, the only reason KC hasn’t already traded Zach so far is because THEY want to see where Lee goes. Then they are hoping the other team (NY or Rangers) will increase the bidding for Zach and pressure Toronto to up their ante.

  7. Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Hey guys – do we KNOW any of this stuff about Greinke? I have anxiety myself, but don’t know anything about Greinke’s particular issues. Has he SAID he cares about media spotlight? Has he really said that anything in particular has been an anxiety issue for him? I’m not knocking anyone here, I’d just like to hear some concrete information, and I’d be leery of listening to supposition and hearsay, even from “a source close to the pitcher”.

    In most cases like this, the only person who really knows a particular person’s emotional issues is that particular person. And I can tell you from personal experience that quite often they’re pretty wrong too.

    • sportsdrenched - Dec 13, 2010 at 4:41 PM

      Here’s a link to a blog at KC Star with the top ten quotes from Zack. It’s a little dated. But it’s still funny.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:39 PM

        Those were HILARIOUS quotes. Thanks!

  8. beantownsports247 - Dec 13, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Jesus not uyfi again , this moron is on every post writing his useless opinion it gets old pretty fast .

    • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:13 PM

      Thank you for those kind words. Coming from an obvious Red Sox fan I can’t help but take that as a compliment. You know what never gets old though? That’s the Yankees dominance of the Red Sox for 85 of the last 87 years.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:35 PM

        Typical Yankee ignorance. It’s probably closer to 60 of the last 92. : )

        Unless you’re counting, you know, being the 14th best team instead of the 17th best team some years?

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 6:04 PM

        Ari, I look forward to seeing your listing of the 32 years from 1919 through 2010 that you believe the Red Sox bested the Yankees.
        Just for your information my reference to 85 of the last 87 years was a reference to the number of years the Yankees have been in the “head” of the Red Sox. There is more then one way to “dominate” a team. For 85 of the last 87 years the Red Sox have been consumed with the success of the Yankees and their own lack of success. From the Yankees first World Series title after the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees to this past year when the Red Sox missed the post season.
        You may call it arrogance if you like, I prefer to call it reality, but it’s far from ignorance.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 6:05 PM

        Ugh, I hate when comment threads get this petty.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 7:44 PM

        Seriously. Calm down dude! These are BASEBALL TEAMS. They are teams of PEOPLE WHO HIT BALLS WITH STICKS AND THEN RUN AROUND IN CIRCLES.

        I started listing years when the Sox had better records than the Yankees, but hell, I’d rather fix myself a sandwich. Just… get over yourself dude. Your team has a ton of championships, a fantastic history of accomplishment! But not, like, 86 years straight. Nor are they in the “head” of the Red Sox. Maybe some particularly shortsighted Red Sox fans? Sure, probably. But the Yankees have sucked plenty too, like their 18-year drought in the 70s 80s and 90s. I’m pretty sure Red Sox players don’t sit there thinking about the Yankees all the time, dude. Hell, if you think players can get obsessed with getting beat by other teams (which I DON’T), the most recent humiliating beatdown was the Sox against the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS. (Which came back to bite the city of Boston karmically with the Bruins. Poor guys. They choked for our sins.)

        But whatever, we can all get along! Sox have been pretty awesome the last 10 years, and so have the Yankees, despite “only” having two championships to show for it. I think the Rays are a really exciting team too. Sucks to be the Jays and Os!

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 8:38 PM

        Ari, my friend I am calm. I’m not the one that started with the name calling and personal attack. You can thank beantownsports for that. Also, don’t you think your earlier response/post was a bit of an over reaction “typical Yankee ignorance” especially since my reply was not directed to you. Like I said I’m calm I just do not appreciate the personal attacks/name calling.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 8:49 PM

        Oh, it’s the “ignorance” you took offense at? I’m sorry, I certainly didn’t mean any! I thought the smiley face and the fact that I was saying the Yankees have still historically dominated the Sox a majority of the time would clue you in that I was joking around.

        Oh, the internet. How our subtleties escape you.

        P.S. Yeah, beantownsports is kinda petty. “Oh no, someone from a team I’m not a fan of is a frequent commenter with whom I disagree! I SHOULD CALL HIM NAMES AND BEMOAN HOW HE POSTS A LOT.”

  9. kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    My only question to Yankees Fans is how will you rate Lee now that he has chosen the Rangers?

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