Greinke latches on with Dodgers

December 9, 2012

> Not like no one saw this coming. The Dodgers, who have infinite pockets of cash, finally wooed Zack Greinke into joining them. Greinke’s deal is for six years and $147 million, which is the richest contract for a right-hander in history, surpassing Matt Cain’s five-year, $112.5 million deal signed back in March. Greinke also slightly passes lefty Cole Hamels, who received six years and $144 million from the Phillies around the Trade Deadline. CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million contract remains the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. 

Greinke will slide into the rotation of what should be a powerhouse Dodgers team. That rotation already features the incumbents, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, followed by a few veterans that LA will have to choose from, including Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang. The Dodgers could have one more starter competing for a spot- Hyun-Jin Ryu- if they sign him by tomorrow’s deadline.

Anyway, I see two possible scenarios for Greinke’s LA tenure. The first- and more likely- is that he’ll take advantage of pitching in the NL West, where the ballparks are significantly larger, and have a ton of success on a Dodgers team that should contend for years to come. The other, however, is that his anxiety issue comes back to haunt him in the huge market of LA, and he can’t handle the stress and publicity of pitching there.

The latter is very unlikely. He did fine in Anaheim, a suburb of LA (but basically the same market), posting a 6-2 record with a 3.53 ERA during his time there. Plus, Greinke doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff; Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the NL, has taken that role.

I wish the best of luck to Greinke in LA; he’s a guy who’s easy to root for. I don’t want the Dodgers to do well as a team because of how they’ve set up themselves up financially, but that doesn’t mean Greinke himself can’t have a good season.

Greinke2

> Now that Greinke is off the market, the Brewers’ chances of signing Ryan Dempster have increased. Had Greinke signed with the Rangers, the Dodgers would have probably overpaid a second-tier pitcher like Dempster. But, now that Greinke has gone to LA, it’s unlikely the Rangers are going to bring Dempster back after what he did for them last year.

> I keep forgetting to mention this, but I saw a headline the other day that read: “Yount shoots Sveum.” My immediate first thought was that Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount took some sort of shot- figuratively- at current Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Nope. Yount literally shot Sveum with a gun while they were on a hunting trip. It wasn’t fatal or anything- one of the pellets from Yount’s rifle grazed Sveum’s ear while he was shooting at a quail.

But this made my day: Sveum started calling Yount “Dick Cheney” after the incident.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Acquired Michael Young from the Rangers.
Rangers: Acquired Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla from the Phillies.
Mariners: Designated Mauricio Robles for assignment.


Lindblom does Hart a favor

August 17, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers had to have been happy to finally get out of Coors Field, and they showed it with their 7-4 win over the Phillies- at home. The story of the night was Corey Hart, whose go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning pretty much sealed the win.

Cliff Lee was on the mound for the Phils, and he got off to a very rough start. He gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez in the first inning, giving the Brewers the early 2-0 advantage. Lee would surrender another home run to Braun in the fourth inning. After that, though, the former Cy Young Award winner buckled down and ended up going 7 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts.

Going into the fifth inning, the Brewers had a 3-1 lead, but Marco Estrada loaded the bases with two outs. Estrada had his typical blow-up inning that he absolutely has to have at some point each game, and Kevin Frandsen hit a go-ahead, bases-clearing double.

Fast forward to the eighth inning, with the score staying 4-3. Lee got two quick outs to start it, striking out Martin Maldonado and inducing a Norichika Aoki pop-out. But, the third baseman Frandsen botched what should have been an inning-ending groundout and let Rickie Weeks reach second on the error. Charlie Manuel decided to go to his setup man, Josh Lindblom (who, keep in mind, has struggled during his short time in Philly).

Lindblom came on and loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Braun, then an unintentional (but probably intentional) walk to Ramirez. That brought Hart to the plate, who hit his opposite-field grand slam just over Dominic Brown’s glove.

There was a bit of ninth inning drama, as Manny Parra allowed two hits to start it. But Jim Henderson came on and rebounded from his rough outing yesterday, recording his third save of the year.

MY QUESTION TO LINDBLOM

> If you watch every Brewer game, you probably know that Hart can’t touch the low-and-outside pitch- the slider in particular. None of the Brewers can really hit it, and the problem is they can’t lay off it. Hart is probably the worst at laying off it.

Anyway, after Lindblom walked Ramirez, I thought the inning was over. All Lindblom had to do was throw Hart three sliders just a little off the outside corner and low, and Hart would swing right through it, as usual. But maybe Lindblom misread the scouting report.

Lindblom did give Hart a few sliders, none of which were high enough in the zone for Hart to chase at. But, on a 2-2 count, Lindblom gave Hart a fastball up in the zone that cut home plate in half, and we know Hart didn’t miss it.

And that’s what I don’t get. On a 2-2 count, why on earth would you give Hart a fastball? There’s still a pitch to screw around with. I guess there’s the danger of bringing the count full, then the pressure of throwing a strike, or else the game is tied. But the odds of Hart eventually swinging at the slider are good, as he’s shown us.

Or we could ask Manuel a question. Why not just bring in Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save? I highly doubt Papelbon would come in, walk two batters, then give up a go-ahead slam. Papelbon is elite; Lindblom is a struggling reliever that Philadelphia probably already despises. There’s a better chance Papelbon gets through the heart of the Brewers’ order.

I’m not complaining here, but maybe now we know why the Phillies are having as bad of a season as the Brewers.

THE NEWS

> In the middle of his slump, Braun decided to take early batting practice for the first time since he was a rookie (or so he says). I think it worked.

> Shaun Marcum is scheduled for a bullpen session tomorrow. If that goes well, we’ll probably see him back in uniform next week.

> You can also check out my latest article at Reviewing the Brew here. I talk about Marcum, his constant injuries, and his free agent status come this offseason.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run tonight. And we won. Coincidence?

> After his slump, Braun stormed back, hitting two home runs off Lee. His average also rose to .302 after having fallen below .300 on Tuesday.

> Braun has three home runs in his career against Lee, all coming this year. Oh, and he’s batting .533 against the lefty.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Vance Worley (6-7, 3.97 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (11-8, 3.78 ERA)