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Is Zack Greinke another missed opportunity for the Yankees?

Dec 19, 2010, 9:48 AM EDT

Brian Cashman

Isn’t it great when you can predict what columnists are going to write about? I’m on the lookout for something ridiculous on this very topic right now. Don’t let me down, guys.

I’m getting the sense that some fans believe the Yankees were still in shock after missing out on Cliff Lee and as a result, were too slow on Zack Greinke. Don’t buy into all that.

Chances are this was a much more complex situation that we realize. We know that the Royals were trying to involve the Yankees in talks, but there’s no evidence to suggest that the Bombers ever seriously considered trading for Greinke. Whether their lack of interest can be attributed his anxiety condition or not, the Yankees were never a realistic option here. Also keep in mind that the Royals had a lot to gain by even having the Yankees in the discussion.

There was also the matter of Greinke’s limited no-trade clause, which included 15 teams. Aside from the Yankees, Red Sox and Nationals, we don’t know exactly who was on there. The Royals may have been a bit hamstrung in that regard.

And so, I’m sure there are many Yankee fans who are still losing it because outside of re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, pretty much nothing has went according to plan this winter. To that I say, welcome to the life of most every other baseball fan. Fun, isn’t it?

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    I can’t say that I am “losing it” because of this off-season. Disappointed is probably a better
    characterization.

    However, you’re right on: I don’t think the Yanks were seriously interested in Greinke, at least not at the cost it would have required to pull the trigger. He apparently did not want to come to NY, which is fine, so why force a guy to be uncomfortable. That’s counterproductive. The result is Javy Vazquez.

    • D.J. Short - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:18 AM

      Right. A trade with the Yankees would have been a two-way street and while we have heard rumors that Greinke would be willing to pitch in New York, that was never confirmed.
      By the way, what do you think of Nolasco? Not an ace, prone to the home run at times, but I think he’d be a good fit with the Yankees.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:38 AM

        A right handed pitcher that’s prone to home runs pitching in NY with the short fence down the right field line is asking for trouble. Plus also moving from the NL with no DH to the AL with the DH is double trouble. I’m hopeful the Yankees can do better then that before the season starts if they have to work a trade.

    • pisano - Dec 19, 2010 at 2:22 PM

      Well said,like Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies: “A man has to know his limitations” and I think it was mutual between the Yankees and Greinke. He didn’t want to go there and they weren’t going to give up what it would have taken to get him there. Case closed.

    • anotherremy - Dec 20, 2010 at 11:15 AM

      Denial is a lonely place. All signings and trades have a cost and the failure to sign someone or trade for someone has a cost. The bottom line is that Brian Cashman failed this winter to be an effective GM and the Yankee team and their fans will suffer for his failure.

      The Yankees have just joined the ranks of the Blue Jays, White Sox and Athletics who can only hope that they can steal enough games to make the Wild Card.

      My proof? The whining of Yankee fans for the last two weeks. Yes!!

  2. uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    As a Yankee fan, I for one am glad the Yankees were not in the mix for Greinke. I do not believe the Yankees ever considered him an option and certainly never considered him a serious option. As I’m sure every poster who has read my posts on the subject knows I do NOT believe he would have been a good fit for NY.

    • anotherremy - Dec 20, 2010 at 11:19 AM

      Wow, you have settled for failure in a great way, uyf. Considering you lost out on Lee, greinke would have been the best direction to go. If you think you have pitching to match the Sox then I believe you have actually already given up on 2011. Enjoy your “Bridge Year.”

  3. sdelmonte - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Why isn’t this a missed opportunity for the Mets? Or the Cubs, or the Angels, or the Dodgers?

    • pitperc - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:58 AM

      Because none of those teams are as desperate for starting pitching as are the Yankees.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 19, 2010 at 9:24 PM

        A curious characterization, given that the Yankees’ rotation, as presently constituted, is better than that of any of the listed teams.

    • wonkypenguin - Dec 19, 2010 at 11:00 AM

      None of them offered six-seven years to Cliff Lee and had him choose somewhere else to play.

      He is definitely a missed opportunity for them, but I would bet heavily they were all on the 15-team no-trade list.

  4. yankeesfanlen - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Going on the “weakest link” theory, the greatest challenge for the year is getting AJ on track. Screwier personalities (Clemens et al) come to mind. For one thing I believe he just didn’t get along with Posada, hardly news but now a non-event. He probably drove Dave Eiland to drink. We’ll wait and see what happens with fresh blood behind him.
    Bring back Pavano. Universe fans only squak for a while but a half-decent performance will have them move on to the next thing.
    Which is: Another C-note of runs by the offense is bought and paid for, let’s have them and we can have all the 5.50 ERA guys we want.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

      I hate to disagree with a Yankee fan but I for one will never accept Pavano in a Yankee uniform again. What he did and the money he took and the lies he perpetrated on the Yankees about his on going injuries for 4 years is inexcusable in my mind. As the saying goes “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. I would rather the Yankees throw money and prosepts at Garza or Carmona or Carpenter then ever sign Pavano to another contract.

      • yankeesfanlen - Dec 19, 2010 at 11:56 AM

        Sorry you disagree but I see no harm in signing him for a year to make it through. I prefer to see it as “Get us through with 15 or 16 wins” and we’ll call you Pitcher X. Wasn’t making him a “True Yankee” or anything. And not to the exclusion of signing anyone “better” but we have to have someone chucking while Tex, ARod, Grandy and Swish get their bats together.

    • bigharold - Dec 19, 2010 at 1:08 PM

      ” I prefer to see it as “Get us through with 15 or 16 wins” and we’ll call you Pitcher X.”

      Absolutely! I agree that in the end, what he does on the field will drive Yankee fans reaction to him. If Yankee fans could not only accept but root for guys like Strawberry and Clemens anything is possible. But, if he flames out like last time or just doesn’t produce, I think at that point Cashman’s job might be in Jeopardy.

      Bringing Vasquez back didn’t get Cashman any points in the Universe. It took nerve but with Vasquez, aside from the fact that he clearly wanted to be a Yankee and unlike Pavano gave it everything he had, he was a one year deal. OK it didn’t work, move on, it was an expensive test drive. To sign Pavano the Yankees would need to cough up a three year deal in the $25-35 mill range. That contract goes south and Brian might need to tune up his resume.

      In the end baseball is a results orientated business. If Pavano wins, all will be forgotten if not forgiven. If he folds up like a cheap card table, like last time, it will be a disaster that will not go unpunished. Whether the Yankees do anything with Pavano will be driven by their options and be an indicator of just how confident they feel in Burnett.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 19, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Am I the only one who does not see Greinke as an ace? He has had one good year as a starter, and one great year. Neither of those were his most recent year. I’m not saying he’s bad by any means, but I don’t know that I would bet the farm on him being an ace going forward.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 1:04 PM

      No you are not. I’ve characterized him as baseballs equivalent of the music industry’s “one hit wonder”. I have to admit a lot of Greinke fans took exception to my analogy.

      • JBerardi - Dec 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM

        Probably because it’s not true by any accurate reading of the statistical record.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 3:59 PM

        To JBerardi – So call me old fashion or old school the only stats I’m interested in is ERA, WHIP and BAA and the result is wins/loses. Someone once said numbers can say anything a person wants them to say. I may be wrong and I’m sure people will disagree with me but I get the feeling Greinke fans want the numbers to tell them he’s an ace.

  6. rick1922 - Dec 19, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Greinke has a panic disorder would never be able to pitch in NY can’t handle big pressure . The Yankees have never considered him because of his disorder.

    • handsfour - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:37 AM

      Greinke has a disorder? Who knew?
      There’s a difference between anxiety and panic, you know.
      And thanks for the insight into the Yankees’ thought processes. Must be nice to have such inside sources.

  7. jh0088 - Dec 19, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    The main problem with the Yanks last year down the stretch run was not the starting pitching. Other than AJ the reason the Yanks didn’t make it to the World Series was because their bullpen imploded and they were somehow so locked up at the plate that they actually refused to swing the bat.

    Most of all this team needs a change in offensive philosophy by installing Gardner as the full time leadoff hitter and dropping Jeter down to second in the lineup. Let Garnder steal and use Jeter to hit and run. With Gardner on base in front of him Jeter will hit .300 again and the tables will be set for Tex, Arod and Cano forcing pitchers to focus on baserunners while dealing with three of the best hitters in the game. This would also help Tex’s early season struggles by helping him get more pitches to hit.

    I hate to say this, but this coming season my most important Yankee (not the best, but the one whose performance will impact this team more than any other) is Brett Gardner. If everyone else just performs at their career levels it is Gardner at the leadoff position who is going to be the biggest catalyst for this team.

    And as a point of reference last year my most important Yankee was AJ Burnett. I wrote how it would be his performance as the number two starter (either good or bad) would make the most impact on the season and I was right about that. But now that AJ is destined to be the fourth starter his relevance isn’t as great and we can accept his numbers at the back end of a rotation.

    So everything really hinges on Joe Girardi seeing Gardner’s value, Jeter not looking at batting second as a demotion, and then Gardner getting on base to the tune of .300 or better. If those three things happen this team is stacked.

    The bullpen has been upgraded and they are just one starting pitcher away from being a truly dominant force.

    • yankeesfanlen - Dec 19, 2010 at 2:43 PM

      All agreed, except Beep-beep batting second. He did that for years, most recently behind Damon in ’09 and could be counted on for league leading DP balls. I’m not convinced he will hit well behind Gardner and there was already a test late last year with Brett batting ninth.
      IF Jeter comes off his 1st pitch swings, let’s try it Nothing would make me feel better than he (and Posada) hitting .300 again.

      • jh0088 - Dec 19, 2010 at 4:37 PM

        I still like Jeter batting second because he is not an RBI guy that drives the ball as you would like from any spot lower in the order. Jeter batting 8th doesn’t add anything and you don’t want him in that 9 hole as that person who can turn the order over.

        No, I think Jeter’s greatest value to this team is going to be his historical patience at the plate. The past few years as the leadoff hitter he swung at first pitches so many times that he needs to re-examine what made him so great in the past: working counts and hitting the ball the other way.

        If he bats second and can take tons of pitches he gives Gardner a chance to steal. And if Gardner can do it early enough in the count and be at second with less than two strikes on Jeter he can bunt him to third or swing away to the right side, where even a ground ball does the job.

        Mix in some hit and run to that and I can’t think of a beter 1-2 combination in all of baseball.

        For my money Granderson strikes out too much and comes with too much power to bat second as a table setter and you don’t want two lefties starting off your order. He should bat 7th or 8th after Posada or Swisher for more RBI chances in my opinion.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 3:20 PM

      Gentlemen, I agree with both of you. Concerning Gardner, etc…
      My one point is I would like to see Granderson in the #2 slot and Jeter dropped down towards the bottom of the order. Granderson stats batting 2nd are much better then when he bats at the bottom of the order. Gardner and Granderson at the top of the Yankee order can create a lot of havoc as well as a distraction for opposing teams pitchers. Combined they should be able to steal 80+ bases. Just a thought but I really like Tex, ARod, Cano & Swisher in the 3,4,5 & 6 slots.

      • yankeesfanlen - Dec 19, 2010 at 3:31 PM

        You state it more succinctly than I. Granderson really came around last August after that “Come to Papa” session with Kevin Long. Just don’t see how Beep-beep is a top of the order guy anymore. Behind Posada, OK.
        Now that we’re all in agreement, let’s work on trading THE FAT TOAD for a bag of balls, or another reliever so that the starter only has to do 5 innings.
        This years goal: 940 runs.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM

        Gentlemen, unfortunately I don’t think we will see Jeter dropping down to far in the order anytime soon at least not in 2011. I believe Jeter still fancies himself a top of the order kind of guy. Concerning Joba. I whole heartily agree that the Yankees need to look for a trade partner. I would prefer they try and package him with one of the catching prospects or Cervelli and another prospect for a starting pitcher. Now that Martin is signed they have an over abundance of catchers in the system. All are low cost and I would think attractive to a “low revenue” team like Cleveland. Maybe, just maybe a change of scenery might benefit Joba.

    • anotherremy - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:01 AM

      jh0088…..You said it perfectly. It could have been said much simpler though…..The Yankees Suck!!!

      See how easy that was?

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 19, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Here is something to think about with the #2 spot. Jeter’s 2010 GIDP total (22) is one more than Granderson’s CAREER GIDP total (21). Swinging at the first pitch does not give someone in front of him any chance to steal. Ugly combo.

    • jh0088 - Dec 19, 2010 at 5:47 PM

      Jeter HAS to stop swinging at the first pitch. He never used to do that and I think only started doing it when he became the full time lead off hitter and trying to start off strong when a pitcher would throw a get me over fastball.

      Ironically, it was Jeter’s reputation as an excellent two strike hitter who would work counts and foul off balls that forced pitchers to try and get ahead of him with a first pitch fast ball. So when Jeter took over the leadoff spot he started swining at all of those first pitch strikes trying to get on base.

      If he were sent back to the 2 spot in the order with specific orders from Girardi to work counts to give Gardner time to steal and/or hit and run Jeter has proven he has the ability to hit deep into a count.

      If he reverted back to a 1999 approach Jeter would be the best number two hitter in all of baseball and his average would skyrocket this year.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 6:18 PM

        I think the sooner Jeter and the Yankees realize Jeter is not a top of the order hitter any more the better off and the more successful they will be. Anyone who watched Jeter the 2nd half of last season saw how he had trouble driving the ball. In many cases unable to get the ball out of the infield and ending many an inning and game winning rallies with DP’s. I wish I could agree with you that it’s just a matter of working counts but I think Jeter’s problems go deeper then that. Age and reduced bat speed are catching up to him, he’s not 25 any longer. While regular people 36 or 37 may be in the prime of their lives for major league shortstops it’s more like middle age.

  9. Old Gator - Dec 19, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Len – would you like to see the FAT TOAD traded for Ricky Nolasco?

    That’s a joke, really. Len would be happy to see the Big Bufo traded for the urn containing the ashes of Satchel Paige.

    • bigharold - Dec 19, 2010 at 10:02 PM

      Not all Yankee fans have thrown in the towel on Chamberlain. Unless the Yankees get real value in exchange for him, he’s still an important part of the Yankee BP.

      And, it’s legitimate to ask; how far along would his development been had the Yankees kept him in either the pen or the rotation?

      He’s 25 years old, been over hyped and jerked around. He’s also talented. The Yankees need to give him another opportunity because he’s worth it and it’ll likely work.

  10. apbaguy - Dec 20, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Lost in all the Yankee centric musing is this: Greinke was rumored to have drawn strong interest by the Rangers. The Rangers whiffed on Lee, and now on Greinke. I love some of the Rangers’ talent, but I’m not sold at all on their rotation. That rotation with Greinke would be much more solidified. Without him or Lee I see trouble ahead.

  11. deathtoallpoets - Dec 20, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    hahaha yankees. go brewers!

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