Tag Archives: Zach Greinke

Changing The Paradigm

This year has brought another frustrating season for Twins fans. Now, I know what you are thinking, thank you Captain Obvious, if I wanted to get commentary from John Madden, I would have spent my afternoon on YouTube!! Hear me out.

The Common Man has been one of the few advocating that the Twins stay the course and resign Frankie K.

The interesting thing about the frustration that most Twins fans have expressed this season is that it has helped illustrate a potential larger flaw in Twins territory.

If you listen to the local microphone jockeys or read the birdcage liners, the chorus of what the Twins organization should do is pretty consistent. Give up this season and build for the future by trading their semi-valuable pieces (i.e. Frankie K or Span) in the hopes that the prospects they get in return will contribute to the team’s success down the road. There is problem with this line of thinking. It is a small market team’s philosophy. We need to change the paradigm in Twins territory.

As anyone who took a high school civics class might recall (my class was early so I had to look this up), a paradigm (pronounced PARA-DIGGUM – for kicks) is essentially an observable pattern. In social sciences, it is often described as a pattern of behavior.

As much as Twins fans irrationally hate him, advocates of moving pieces point at this trade as the reason why the Twins should be sellers. Unfortunately, the results from this trade have been the exception, not the rule.

For years, following the success of the 87′ and 91′ squads, Twins fans became accustomed to the small market paradigm for running a team. Low payroll, draft smart (usually below slot), and make savvy moves at the trade deadline (i.e., A.J., Shannon Stewart, etc.). And, because the address was 900 S. 5th St (aka the Homerdome), this made sense. In fact, considering our Midwestern sensibilities, this approach seemed to fit.

Well, no more. When the people of Minnesota ponied up the cash for Target Field, that mindset should have changed. Unfortunately, we are still stuck in our small market way of thinking and behaving. You see, one of the key differences between small market and big market clubs is that, at the trade deadline, big market clubs are always looking to add. Have you ever flipped on the four letter network and heard a story about the Red Sox or Yankees selling at the trade deadline? Of course not. They are always buyers.

Now, I get it, the Twins will never be the Yankees or Red Sox. Fair enough. Even I am not crazy enough to suggest that they should be. However (raise your hand if knew that was coming — well done), there is a more apt comparable of what they should strive to be in our own division.

In 2009, the Chicago White Sox were in 3rd place in the AL Central. Even though they were sort of in the race, most baseball people felt like they did not have the pieces to contend with the Tigers and Twins. That did not stop GM Kenny Williams from going out and getting ace pitcher Jake Peavy from the Padres. Yes, he gave up a decent prospects, in particular Clayton Richard, but, Peavy has pitched, and pitched well, for the White Sox for the past three years. This year he has been the anchor for the Sox and has helped keep them atop of the division. Richard has only just now started to show flashes of being a legitimate big leaguer. As a bigger market club, you have to be willing to pay the premium for that bona fide ace. The Padres asked for Richard. Williams paid it.

Greinke’s return to the AL Central is exactly the kind of big market move the Twins should make. With a new deal negotiated as part of the trade, he would be the anchor of the starting staff for years.

Right now, there are two big pitching names on the market: Zach Greinke and Cliff Lee. Either one would look fantastic in a Twins uniform. Both would require GM Terry Ryan to deplete the prospect bin (think some combination of Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, or maybe even recent indie film star Miguel Sano). That said, with Greinke (provided he would resign) or Lee, a resigned Frankie K, and a healthy Scott Baker, the Twins would have the beginning of a fairly decent starting staff. Combine that with a decent offense and promising young bullpen, a trade to get Greinke or Lee is the prudent move for an up and coming big market team. In the race or not, it makes the Twins better now and in the immediate future.

The question is, will we as fans put enough pressure on the organization to change our current paradigm and force Ryan to make the bold move? I for one, sure hope that we do.

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We Have To Play 159 More Of These…

Well, both the squads in the Border Rivals rivalry got off to a GLORIOUS (think Frank The Tank in Old School) start to the 2012 MLB season. Due to the fact that they have a number higher than 0 in the left hand column in the standings, we will recap all the Brewers’ action first.

Someone should have told Yo that spring training was over and that this one counted. Definitely not a performance to remember.

The Crew took on the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. With Yo taking the mound in Friday’s tilt, the Crew had to like their chances. Unfortunately, Yo decided to get one of his semi-seasonal  “blow up” games out of the way early this year. Classic Yo. If he could just limit these games to one or two a year, his ERA would likely compete with the best in the league. Or, if he could learn to keep a 3 or 4 run outburst from turning into 6 or 7, like the really good ones do on their off days, he would finally realize the immense talent that he possesses.

Saturday’s matinee saw Zach Grienke squaring off with former Cardinals ace, Adam Wainwright. The Brewers made Wainwright look like the guy coming off Tommy John surgery that he is. They really made him work for every out he got and took him to the wood shed a bit for 3 ER in only 5.2 innings. Corey Hart got things started with a mammoth HR in the 2nd inning and the Crew never looked back. Rickie Weeks continued his hot start, smashing a HR in the 8th off of Ranger-killer Fernando Salas.

So, this is what popped up when we Wiki'd Lance Lynn. All seriousness aside, apologies to his mom and sister, he does have a page. He just has a round face.

Unfortunately, Sunday saw a repeat of Friday’s result.  The Crew made spot starter and Cardinals long reliever Lance Lynn look like the second coming of Dizzy Dean (Googlebox him on the interweb — that one was from the way-back machine). Lynn scattered 2 hits and struck out 8 Brewers. He mixed up his pitches and flummoxed the Crew’s line-up. On top of that, Randy Wolf decided to throw the Cardinals’ hitters a little extra batting practice. He “scattered” 9 Hs in 5 innings and, an already heavily used Brewers pen got another chance to pitch some extra innings. This includes a less than wonderful performance by the Ax-Man, who gave up a 3 run HR to someone called Suger Shane Robinson. Not a great start to the season.

Despite the less than sterling start to the season, there were some positives to the homestand. Weeks and Hart have started the season strong, Braun jacked his first bomb of the year, and Zach Greinke looked like a potential Cy Young candidate. PLUS, the Brewers travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs for a 4 game set. Definitely an opportunity to get some momentum going in this very young season. Like “they” say, you cannot win your division in April, but, you can lose it. Just ask a Twins fan.

Look for that recap tomorrow…

2012 AL Central Preview (With A Throwback Twist)

The recent (and sudden) heat wave here in the Midwest means that spring is here and America’s pastime is ramping up for its 2012 debut.

Brewers fans going to miss watching Fielder turn those massive hips on opposing fastballs and sending another moonshot to downtown Milwaukee.

This past offseason saw the movement of one of the Greatest of All Time (GOAT), Albert Pujols, another potential GOAT, Prince Fielder, (if he can lay off the Tofu bacon cheeseburgers), and multiple other big names like C.J. Wilson and Jose Reyes.

Unfortunately, none of the big names that switched teams landed with Border Rivals squads the Minnesota Twins or Milwaukee Brewers.  Both the Brewers and the Twins were active in the offseason, though, only the Brewers made a marginal splash in bringing in a semi-marquee name.  With that mind, let’s get to Part 1 of the 2012 AL Central Preview (with a throwback twist):

Milwaukee Brewers

The Crew had a wild offseason.  Right off the bat (to be punny), they had to come to grips with the notion that Prince was not coming back.  A guy who averaged 40+ bombs, 110 RBIs, and 90+ Rs, for the past six years was packing up his vegetarian patty press and skipping town.  He leaves behind him a pretty significant void. Both literally and figuratively. Not only will Prince’s numbers sorely be missed, but, the protection he provided in the line-up, the insurance for Mr. Bernie Brewer, Ryan Braun, is what Brewer fans (and Braun) will miss the most.

Considering Braun’s off-season, if he was not a principal owner of FedEx stock before this season, he certainly is now, losing his battery mate could make life a lot more difficult.  Without Fielder’s presence in the line-up, pitchers can go after Braun a little bit more aggressively. This is particularly nasty for a guy who hits most MLB fastballs like he is hitting them off a tee.  Add to that the cloud of uncertainty overshadowing Braun’s every move, that void will likely be amplified.

To help fill that void, the Crew went out and signed All-Star 3B, Aramis Ramirez, to a 3 year, $36 million deal.  It is the kind of deal that actually balances the risk (Ramirez is an enigma — to say the least) and the reward (he is an undeniable talent).  If the talented/semi-driven Ramirez  shows up, he will be serviceable protection for FedEx’s No.1 Fan and will help drive a better than average MLB offense.

Gamel has some mighty big shoes to fill, but, if this year's spring training is any indication, he just might be up to the task.

The other question marks for the Crew are perpetual prospect-in-waiting, Mat Gamel, and consummate professional, Corey Hart. Gamel has had a terrific spring-training (.400 AVG and 4 HRs), and he seems to be relishing the opportunity to fill-in Fielder’s shoes at 1B.  If he can finally perform at he level scouts have long-projected him at, Fielder’s departure will not hurt nearly as bad.  Hart has been a mainstay in the Crew line-up for the past 8 seasons.  He is a versatile player, he can leadoff or hit 5th, who does a little bit of everything for the team.  He underwent off-season knee surgery and has yet to play an inning of baseball this spring.  His successful return from that surgery is going to be integral to the team’s success overall.

From a pitching perspective, the Crew did not make any significant moves in the off-season.  They will rely, for the most part, on the same stable of arms that they had last year.  That stable is headlined by Zach Greinke (pitching in a contract year), Yovani Gallardo, and Shawn Marcum.  When healthy, and that is the critical distinction, these three starters are probably as good, or better, than any other 3 starters in the NL. Only the Phillies can run out a set of 1-3 starters that can match up with the Crew. But, health is the wild card with all three guys.  Marcum is already on the shelf with shoulder issues. Both Gallardo and Greinke have had their own injury issues in the past. If those three guys can remain relatively healthy, they will keep the Crew in most games.

The bullpen is still anchored by All-Stars John Axford and K-Rod.  Both men were steady performers in the late innings for the Crew.  If the starters can get the Crew to the late innings, these horses will take it from there.

Ultimately, the Crew’s success this season is going to hinge on the squad’s ability to ignore the outside distraction (Braun’s FedEx miracle, Fielder’s absence, K-Rod’s age, Gamel’s boom-or-bust label, etc.)  and focus on the business of playing baseball.  If they can limit the outside distractions, this team can make a push to win the NL Central crown.  And, if they can find their way into the playoffs, they have the staff to match-up with anyone in the National League.

Prediction:     91 wins.  NL Wild Card.