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For better or worse, Angels get their man

Jul 27, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

Zack Greinke, Sam Holbrook AP

Already playing plenty well without him, the Angels will now be called World Series favorites after acquiring Zack Greinke from the Brewers on Friday night. In truth, though, they may not be any better than they were yesterday.

In Greinke, the Angels are getting a pitcher with No. 1 starter stuff. He was the AL’s best pitcher in 2009, going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA for the Royals.

In the three years since, though, Greinke hasn’t been great anywhere other than Miller Park. He was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in his last year with the Royals in 2010. After being traded to the Brewers in 2011, he went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA. However, most of his success came in Milwaukee. On the road, he was 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA. This year, he was 9-3 with a 2.56 ERA overall, but 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA away from Milwaukee.

And those results were mostly against NL lineups.

Another concern is that Greinke simply wasn’t any good in the playoffs last year, giving up 15 runs — 12 earned — in 16 2/3 innings in his three starts for the Brewers.

Maybe that should be dismissed, but Greinke isn’t the typical pitcher. He doesn’t want the spotlight, and now he’ll be in it more than ever, even if Anaheim isn’t exactly Los Angeles. He might not handle it well.

I certainly don’t blame the Angels for taking the chance. Middle infielder Jean Segura is aa excellent prospect, but the Halos have both Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick locked up for the long haul, making him expendable. I like John Hellweg as a possible No. 3 starter and Ariel Pena might make it as a No. 4 or as a setup man, but the price tag was quite fair. And since the Angels didn’t need to use Garrett Richards to bring in Greinke, they could further bolster the roster by trading him for a late-game reliever.

But my guess is that Greinke will disappoint, particularly in October. For all of his talent, he’s yet to show that he can be counted on.

  1. Eberwizzle - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Wow….I thought Brewers would have gotten more in return.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      They got 3 prospects that are pretty close to the Majors for 1 guy they were goong to lose in 2 months. Its a pretty decent haul if you ask me. Its not like the Angels were going to give up Trout.

      • dwrek5 - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:29 PM

        Agree. Considering what the Brew Crew have been throwing out at SS the last few years, Segura alone is enough.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    The home/road splits are alarming and that’s why I’m not that unhappy the Crew wasn’t able to sign him to an extension but I also think people overstate how much his anxiety issues affect his pitching.

    • dan1111 - Jul 28, 2012 at 7:30 AM

      On your last point, I agree–it can be used as an easy explanation for anything, but we don’t really know what is going on.

      On the home/road splits–one should never make too much of these, especially when they don’t match up with the home park factor. Miller Park is a neutral to slight hitters’ park.

  3. wrg885 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Thanks for predicting my success, Dr.

    Signed,
    Person With Anxiety issues also.

  4. randygnyc - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Just as Ichiro travels with an interpreter, Josh Hamilton has a nanny, I wonder if Greinke will need an inhouse shrink?

    • sneschalmers - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:19 PM

      It’s not like Greinke suddenly developed his anxiety disorder yesterday. It’s been something that is very well documented throughout his entire career, and it seems to be something that has been handled pretty well, given his successes.

      Also, every team has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that has, among other things, the resources to provide psychological aid to players and team employees.

    • baseballisboring - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:29 AM

      You seem like the type of guy that could use a life coach

  5. GoneYickitty - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Greinke is such a massive upgrade over they guy that he’s replacing. I understand that you’re trying to say that Greinke isn’t a true MLB playoff ace and you would probably be right, but you’re forgetting to factor in how much Santana is terrible. The Angels are hugely better now than they were before the trade.

  6. gwhempel - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    I like this trade a lot. I was scared of what Doug Melvin would end up doing.

    So we gave up a SS with offensive issues, a 4th outfielder, a reliever with some serious off-the-field problems, and a promising young starter and got back a SS who may or may not stick at short, and two promising young starters plus 49 starts from Zack and a good playoff run.

    Some how, some way, I actually think Douggie Mustache came out ahead in this one. I hope these guys pan out.

    And wow, is the Angels rotation stacked now. I wish the best of luck to Greinke and will be rooting for him in the playoffs.

    • crimhollingsworth - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      I wonder if a young offensively challenged ss can get better offensively and become a .301 hitter could that even happen? Nah

      • gwhempel - Jul 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        I don’t really care about a .300 average with very little pop and very little on-base skills. Escobar was supposed to be a wizard with the glove but a quick search says most advanced metrics don’t like him very much.

        So yeah, he sure can hit an empty .300 this season, but next year he might hit .220 with his historical track record of no power, no walks, and inconsistent defense. A 2 WAR player is nothing to brag about.

  7. jesseg53 - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Your concerned about Greinke in the post-season because of 16.2 IP? Really?

    Also, you don’t know if they are any better then yesterday?

    Greinke xFIP the last 2 years.

    2.56
    2.78

    And the fact that he pitches BETTER at Miller Park should be a good thing, Miller Park plays homer friendly and Greinke thrived in it. The Angels are getting one of the best pitchers in baseball, to say they might not be much better is foolish.

    And the prospects the Brewers just got back were ranked at mid season by BA all in the Top 9 in the Angels system, including #1 SS – Jean Segura. The Angels just picked up a top 5 pitcher in baseball for the stretch run, and the Brewers picked up their shortstop for the next 5-7 years and 2 decent pitching prospects. Great move for both teams.

    • thehypercritic - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:24 PM

      Oh, look. Sanity.

    • dsmaxsucks - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      Thank you. Lets also not forget he was pitching in front of Yuni Betancourt in both KC and Milwaukee, and really had little defensive help.

      FInally, what happened to all the numbers and the WHIPs and the FIPs and the Flaps and the rest. Suddenly we’re talking about Greinke in terms of Wins (when did those start to matter) and ERA? He’s gotta give his Cy Young back if those things matter.

    • paperlions - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      FIP and xFIP are estimators based on a generalized model. The accuracy of their predictiveness is averaged across all types of pitchers, but there are examples of outliers on each end….guys that consistently produce better or worse than FIP or xFIP say they should have. The last 3 years Greinke’s xFIP has been 0.57, 1.27, and 0.66 better than his ERA, suggesting that xFIP has not been particularly good at estimating his production, as his ERA has failed to approach his xFIP over that extended time period.

      • phillyphreak - Jul 27, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        Does it suggest that though, or does it suggest that factors outside of his control (i.e. defense) play a role? SIERA also estimates his skill to be better than ERA. Regardless it’s an upgrade in the rotation.

      • derklempner - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        “SIERA also estimates his skill to be better than ERA.”

        Since when did Sports Illustrated get their own ERA stat?

  8. doctorfootball - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Greinke is a scary picture to have in both a good and bad way. Who knows how he’ll react to being in a big market. This could be a great or not so great trade for the halos. Angels gave up 3 very good prospects. They better hope he isn’t the same Greinke, who mostly pitches well at home but is a serious liability, for a guy with #1 pitcher stuff, away from home.

  9. jb24fan - Jul 27, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Greinke’s anxiety issues are so overblown. Never once an issue in MKE. Just garbage for the media to cling to.

  10. brewcitybummer - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Thank you sports media for strengthening the stigma of mental illness. Seriously, a lot of good people have spent their lives trying to tear down that stigma and then one professional athlete discloses a mental illness and were back to 1955.

    • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:40 AM

      Nonsense. Disclosing or examining an illness doesn’t “stigmatize” it; sweeping it under the rug and pretending it isn’t there stigmatizes it. If anything, such exposure alerts people with similar issues that what’s troubling them has a name, has an etiology, and that there’s help for it. Nothing about this blog makes fun of Greinke’s problem, belittles it, or dismisses it in any way. The issues that Matthew brings up have been matters of record for several years.

      • brewcitybummer - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:35 AM

        Sweeping something under the rug and pretending it isn’t there isn’t what I’m advocating but that is also not what stigma is. Stigma is a negative mark or stain placed on a person. The people with major mental illness that I work with complain that they are seen AS their mental illness. That what I see with Greinke. Nobody writes an article without the seemingly obilgatory “oh yeah but hes got this problem” comment at the end.

      • brewcitybummer - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:09 AM

        Ok, so you think talking about his anxiety can help people who have anxiety problems but have not sought treatment. But Greinke’s anxiety issues are usually brought up when talking about what he can’t do or predicting failure. That’s stigma.

      • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2012 at 8:27 AM

        Not at all. I’ve read at least as much about how he copes and how he succeeds. You can look at his preference for a smaller market team two ways: as an admission of disability and to some extent as failure, or as a coping strategy he uses to come to terms with his problem, the way I avoid food or drinks containing sugar or simple carbs to come to terms with my diabetes.

        But if you’re going to be honest about it, you also have to deal straightforwardly with the way he wilted under pressure in the playoffs and the way his record away from his comfort zone in his home park is worse than his record at home. That’s not to say that you automatically assume his record his a function of his medical issues, but if you pretend it isn’t a factor, then yes, you’re sweeping it under a rug. The articles here have posed his anxiety disorder as a possible part of the equation of his career and performance. That’s not unfair, and it’s not stigmatization.

  11. kpow55 - Jul 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    He still has Weaver, Pujols, Trumbo and Trout all worthy of a share of the spotlight…. Not exactly a big fish in a little pond anymore. Shouldn’t be that much anxiety. At best he will land somewhere between Weaver and Haren and people will let him be.

  12. butchhuskey - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Sorry, but I think this article is rather careless in the way it talks about Greinke’s anxiety issues. Matthew Pouliot basically states that Greinke is mentally incapable of handling pressure by saying that he “doesn’t want the spotlight”. The problem with this assertion is that Greinke has social anxiety disorder, something that doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t handle attention heaped upon him. If that kind of assumption were true, Greinke wouldn’t be able to pitch in front of crowds of thousands or millions of tv viewers. Greinke’s psychological issues are great fodder for the media, but how do we know they actually affect his on field performance? Implying that last year’s poor playoff showing was a result of his anxiety is completely careless and unfounded, not to mention abuse of a small sample size. I don’t know how Greinke’s issues have affected him, but I don’t pretend to either. Needless to say, this article is an embarrassment to this website and overall extremely disappointing.

    • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM

      Baloney. You’re taking the bare-bones observations Matthew has made – issues which Greinke himself has discussed, and for which he has sought treatment without hiding it – and misconstruing it in the most eggagerated and negatively possible way. There’s nothing embarrassing about it. What would be embarrassing would be to pretend that these issues aren’t there or aren’t real. They are.

      • butchhuskey - Jul 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM

        I don’t think I’m exaggerating – I’m just saying that no one knows for sure if or how his anxiety issues have affected his playing

      • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2012 at 8:31 AM

        Matthew isn’t concluding that it is either. But he’s including the matter as part of the overall picture.

    • spudatx - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:38 AM

      It seems like you’re fishing for an argument. Statistics are hard to argue with given the sample size Puliot has to work with. Greinke was good, not great for the Brewers. Now, he’s headed to a much higher pressure city with expectations he round out a rotation on a team with high expectations since their off-season signings were complete. They spent huge during the only to have a very rough start to the season, but have found themselves back in the hunt. Greinke won’t be welcomed back if he doesn’t deliver in the two-plus months he has to perform in SoCal.

      • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        1. Such a small sample size it’s barely worth mentioning
        2. ummmmm Matt is making a TON of conclusions, what the heck are you talking about?
        “doesn’t want the spotlight” = Conclusion
        And the final sentence is one big conclusion

        It’s just another poor blog entry by M.P. the worst blogger on the site (hey someone has to be, its too bad it’s just so obvious and consistent)

        Duuuuuuuuuuuur “for better or worse”
        Angels got Greinke for cheap, Angels got Greinke for one prospect that really matters, a prospect who has been sliding the past few years and a limited ceiling.
        Leave it to M.P. to attempt to find a problem with it.

        If M.P. was right about things he could have room to talk now and then but he rarely ever is correct about anything, yet he still yammers his opinion about things.

  13. randygnyc - Jul 28, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Gator’s nonsense post is, spot on. Discussing mental illness, even lighthearted poking, is preferable to hiding or denying its existence. Greinke has publicly spoken on this topic and has admitted it has affected him and the choices he makes.

  14. nickmensio - Jul 28, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    I went to high school with Hellweg at St. Dominic and growing up in St. Charles County (20 miles west of St Louis) I’m betting he’s pretty stoked at the opportunity to pitch in Busch Stadium against his hometown team on a regular basis. Dude was an enigma in high school, could throw straight gas but didn’t know where it was going. He’s figured it out in a big way, I’m real happy for him he’s gonna be closer to home.

  15. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 28, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    I like Pujols and Greinke a lot…but I also just love watching hyped teams crash and burn. Just because it’s LA I think I’ll root for the latter.

  16. jikkle49 - Jul 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    The Angels are more Orange County than LA and I don’t think he’ll have problems with SoCal. It’s not a market like Boston or New York where everything you do is magnified and you’re not going to be instantly recognized or hounded by the fans and media. People will recognize him but for the most part he should be able to go where he wants in SoCal in relative peace.

    And while it’s more than likely a rental I don’t think the Angels being able to extend him is out of the question. They do have some money coming off the books after this season like Hunter, Abreu, and likely Santana so they should be able to offer him a reasonable deal and it will depend on what Greinke wants to do.

  17. watermelon1 - Jul 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    And let’s not leave out a big issue here…

    if this trade does nothing else for the Angels, it at least assures that some other playoff team, particulalry in the AL, land Greinke.

    I was holding out hope that the “anxiety” and “not wanting to be in the spotlight” would get Zack to play for the Orioles. He can hide easily there, playing in the same division as Yanks and Red Sox. But, now the Angels look even stronger. And they avoid the risk of having to face him down the road.

  18. cuffhimbanano - Jul 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Greinke was the AL’s best pitcher for the first 2 months in 2009. Felix Hernandez was the better pitcher over the course of the season.

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