Tag:Zack Greinke
Posted on: May 9, 2010 9:55 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2010 10:06 pm

3 to watch: The perfect or not edition

The Yankees have never had a perfect game thrown against them. The Rays have had it happen twice in 10 months.

The Royals have never had a perfect game thrown for them, or against them. The Angels, Dodgers, Expos and White Sox have been on both sides of perfect games.

Some of the best pitchers in the history of the game have thrown perfect games. And some guys who never were and never will be considered for the Hall of Fame.

It doesn't always make sense, just like the Royals' 1-6 record in Zack Greinke's first seven starts this year doesn't make sense.

And whether it makes sense or not, we're tying Dallas Braden's perfect game, the Yankees and Greinke into this week's edition of 3 to watch:

1. The day after they were the victims in Mark Buehrle's perfect game last July, the Rays faced Roy Halladay in Toronto -- and got a hit in the very first inning. Matt Garza was the Tampa Bay starter that day, and Garza went nine innings to get credit for the Rays' 4-2, 10-inning win. Guess who starts for the Rays Monday night? Yep, it's Garza, who will face Joel Pineiro in Rays at Angels, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Angels Stadium .

2. The Yankees have had three perfect games, the most of any team. You wouldn't figure that they'd get another one this week, since the Tigers' have the second-best team batting average in the game (behind only the Yankees). But their series this week in Detroit, besides giving the Yanks their first look at Johnny Damon in a Tiger uniform, gives us all a great pitching matchup. It's CC Sabathia against Justin Verlander, in Yankees at Tigers, Thursday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Comerica Park .

3. Greinke, somehow, is 0-4 despite a 2.51 ERA and five quality starts in seven starts. He's the first defending Cy Young Award winner to lose his first four decisions the next year since Bartolo Colon, who was 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA in six starts (wrapped around a trip to the disabled list) in 2006. The Royals bullpen has already cost Greinke two wins with blown saves, and the Royals hitters have hurt him by scoring just one run in his last two starts combined (1-0 and 4-1 losses). They'll try again, in Indians at Royals, Thursday afternoon (2:10 EDT) at Kauffman Stadium . The last defending Cy Young to start 0-5? Frank Viola, who began 0-5 (but then won his next start) for the 1989 Twins.

Posted on: April 25, 2010 10:03 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2010 10:13 pm

3 to watch: The almost Cy vs. Cy edition

This is the week you really wish you could tweak a couple of pitching rotations.

This is the week the Mariners play the Royals -- but 2009 Cy Young rivals Felix Hernandez (pitching Monday) and Zack Greinke (pitching Tuesday) miss each other by a day.

This is the week the Phillies play the Giants -- but possible 2010 Cy Young rivals Roy Halladay (pitching Monday) and Tim Lincecum (pitching Wednesday) miss each other by two days.

That's fine, because this is also the week the Tigers and Twins get together for the first time this season. So, with no power to change rotations, we'll stick with the American League Central rivals to lead off this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Twins never led the division by more than one game last year -- and they didn't even hold that lead until two days after the regular season was scheduled to end. The Twins already lead by three games this year, and one scout who saw them recently declared, "If they had a legitimate closer, they'd be one of the top three teams in baseball." We're not sure about that, but we are sure that the Twins and Tigers played the best single game we saw all last season. Their first meeting since comes this week, in Twins at Tigers, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Comerica Park . Justin Verlander, who finished third in last year's Cy Young voting, faces Francisco Liriano, who is off to the kind of start that could get him into this year's Cy race.

2. Not everyone predicted that the Twins would be this good. Believe it or not, someone (that would be me) picked the White Sox to win the AL Central. Hey, it still could happen, especially if the White Sox keep up this weekend's one game-winning homer a day pace -- or if Jake Peavy (7.66) and Gavin Floyd (8.38) recover to have two of the best ERAs in the AL, instead of two of the worst. Peavy, Floyd and the Sox get another chance this week, with Peavy starting in White Sox at Rangers, Wednesday night (8:05 EDT) at Rangers Ballpark .

3. It's not Halladay vs. Lincecum, as we hoped for. But it is Lincecum against the two-time NL champs, and we'll take that. Over the last two years, Lincecum's ERA against the Phillies: 1.24. The Phillies' run total in the other 338 (regular-season) games they played: 5.07. Lincecum starts against Cole Hamels, in Phillies at Giants, Wednesday afternoon (3:45 EDT) at AT&T Park .

Posted on: April 5, 2010 4:25 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 6:36 pm

Greinke gives up runs. Plural.

Zack Greinke didn't give up a run until his 25th inning of 2009.

Zack Greinke gave up a run in his first inning of 2010. Yes, it was unearned, because Willie Bloomquist dropped Carlos Guillen's two-out pop-up. But the first run Greinke allowed in 2009 was also unearned (and also against the Tigers).

Greinke didn't give up an earned run until his 30th inning of 2009. He gave up an earned run in his sixth inning of 2010, when Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera had three straight singles.

Through six innings, Greinke and the Royals led Justin Verlander and the Tigers, 4-2. Then Greinke left, and before a Royals reliever could even record an out in the seventh inning, the Tigers had taken the lead.

The Royals had four blown saves behind Greinke last year. They have one, in one start, in 2010.

The first-inning unearned run may tell us more about the Tigers than it tells us about Greinke. After Greinke allowed a two-out double to Ordonez, he pitched around Cabrera (a four-pitch walk) to pitch to Guillen.

And, of course, he would have gotten Guillen had Bloomquist (Kansas City's third-choice third baseman) caught the pop-up.

Guillen could be as important as any Tiger this year, because he's by far the best choice to bat behind Cabrera and possibly give him a little protection.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 20, 2010 2:33 pm

The samurai Cy Young

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Zack Greinke gave his Cy Young Award to his parents.

He kept the samurai sword.

Greinke isn't even sure where the Cy Young Award is. He has big plans for the sword.

"It's the coolest thing ever," Greinke said today. "It's going to Kansas City with me."

Greinke said the Mizuno equipment company gave him the sword after he won the Cy Young. In a half-hour session with a handful of reporters today, the sword was the one topic that actually got Greinke excited.

"It's just cool," he said.

If getting the sword was the best thing that came out of Greinke's great 2009 season, the worst was the added attention. Greinke is pleasant with reporters, but he'll tell you right away that he doesn't enjoy interviews and would prefer not to be noticed.

He does deal with it better than he once did.

"I look like I'm nervous now, but it's because I'm freezing," he said today, on a chilly morning at the Royals complex.

Greinke said he thinks he can pitch better in 2010 than he did last year, when he was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA. He said he'd like fewer walks and more strikeouts, and that he wants to improve his changeup (which he called "a work in progress").

Royals pitching coach Bob McClure agreed.

"Basically, I tell him there's always room to improve and get better," McClure said. "You can always get better, knowing hitters better, and preparation."

And if he does get better, maybe there will be another samurai sword next year.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 18, 2009 10:45 am
Edited on: November 18, 2009 10:47 am

The Carlton connection

The MVP award is supposed to be the one that's tied to team performance. How valuable can you be, the argument goes, when your team isn't even in the pennant race?

The Cy Young is supposed to be more about individual achievement. It's for the best pitcher, not the most valuable pitcher.

And yet, what Zack Greinke did Tuesday, winning the Cy Young while pitching for a 97-loss team, is almost unheard of. Most Cy Young winners pitch for teams that win 90-plus games, not teams that lose 90-plus.

Part of that is just common sense. A team that includes the best pitcher in the league is less likely to finish last, and since voters often rely on wins (rightfully in most cases, I would argue), a pitcher with a bad team around him is at a disadvantage in Cy Young voting.

Some people will argue, and already have, that Greinke's selection is a sign that voters can overlook wins and focus on more important numbers. Greinke himself said yesterday that his favorite stat is FIP, which stands for fielding-independent pitching and attempts to even out the effects of playing for a good or bad defensive team (Greinke led the AL in FIP, and was second to Tim Lincecum in the majors).

I think it's more likely that voters chose Greinke because he proved himself so dominant over the course of the season, and got so much attention for pitching so well for a team that was so bad. I think many voters realized that two of Greinke's eight losses came in games where he pitched seven-plus innings while allowing just one run, that he had six no-decisions in games where he pitched at least seven innings, and that the Royals were shut out in three of his eight losses (and one of his no-decisions).

Whatever the reason, Greinke was the first pitcher from a sub-.500 team to win the AL Cy Young since Roger Clemens with the 1997 Blue Jays (Clemens went 21-7 for a team that was 76-86). The only other pitchers to win the AL Cy for losing teams were Gaylord Perry with the 1972 Indians (72-84), Clemens with the '87 Red Sox (78-84) and Pat Hentgen with the '96 Blue Jays (74-88). It's happened a little more frequently in the National League, including last year, when Lincecum won while pitching for the 72-90 Giants.

But even in the NL, pitchers for 97-loss teams barely have a chance. In fact, there's been only one other pitcher in the history of the award who won while pitching for a team that lost more than 90 gmaes.

You may have heard of him, and you may have heard of what he did that year.

It was Steve Carlton, and his 27-10 season for the 1972 Phillies (59-97) is one of the more remarkable accomplishments in history.

Greinke didn't match Carlton, who had nine wins in games where the Phils scored one or two runs, but as a great pitcher on a terrible team, there is a connection.

Posted on: January 26, 2009 1:50 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2009 2:26 pm

Royals show commitment by signing Greinke

We'd known for a while that the Royals were interested in signing Zack Greinke to an extension, but today's news of a four-year deal is still noteworthy. Finally, the Royals have shown a willingness to keep a young talent rather than trade him away.

Greinke's deal will pay him $38 million, sources told CBSSports.com.

Think of Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon, among others. The Royals had all three, but couldn't keep any of them.

That's why when Greinke's name surfaced in trade rumors last fall, many people believed the talk. Even after I wrote that Royals general manager Dayton Moore was more likely to sign Greinke long-term than he was to trade him, more rumors popped up at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Those who know Moore said he liked Greinke more as the 2008 season went on. Those who know Greinke said the pitcher was determined to remain in Kansas City, and directed his agent to get a deal done.

Greinke even agreed to make appearances on the Royals caravan, something he has resisted in the past.

Now he's signed, and Greinke has given up two potential free-agent years. It's a good sign, and maybe the Royals are finally headed in the right direction.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 4, 2008 1:55 pm

A Greinke trade? Unlikely

Rumors that the Royals would be willing to listen on Zack Greinke began circulating again this week, to the point where some people in baseball began wondering if he was about to be traded to the Braves.

The only problem with that is that two people who know Royals general manager Dayton Moore very well said that Moore has grown more and more fond of Greinke.

"He's more likely to sign him to a long-term contract than he is to trade him," one of the sources said (and the other agreed).

Moore is also said to have cooled on the idea of acquiring Jeff Francouer from the Braves. The Royals got Coco Crisp from the Red Sox last month, and apparently the only way they'd have interest in Francouer is if the Braves or someone else would take Jose Guillen ($24 million over the next two years).


Posted on: July 17, 2008 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2008 7:27 pm

Trade talk, and answering questions

It's no real surprise to see Tony Clark going from San Diego back to Arizona. Clark is from San Diego, but he has lived for years in the Phoenix area and very much wanted to get back there. The Diamondbacks needed help off the bench, and also the veteran presence that Clark brings, and the Padres have reached the point where they realize they don't have a chance this year.

There were those in baseball who thought Arizona would be a possible destination for Mark Teixeira, should the Braves trade him. Like Clark, Teixeira has a home in Arizona, and could possibly have been interested in staying there long-term. But Arizona didn't want a full-time first baseman who would take at-bats away from Chad Tracy and Connor Jackson. The Diamondbacks were encouraged by the 25 runs they scored in the final four games behind the All-Star break, and convinced themselves that at this point their offense doesn't need the big-time boost from someone like Teixeira.

It's also no surprise to see the Phillies trade for a pitcher, even though Oakland's Joe Blanton was far from their first choice. The Phils were looking for a difference-maker, and it's hard to see Blanton being that kind of pitcher. The one plus is that he normally pitches a lot of innings, and the Phillies might score enough runs to help him succeed.

Other talk circulating in the baseball world today:

-- The Mariners continue to be open for business, and there has been some talk that they would even be open to dealing young shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. But one official who has spoken to the Mariners said he was told Betancourt was one of four players the M's wouldn't talk about, with the other three being Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Clement and Brandon Morrow.

-- The Rays' interest in Rockies closer Brian Fuentes has been talked about for days, but a baseball official said Tampa Bay has also talked to Oakland about Huston Street. The Rays are also in on Casey Blake, who could well be traded by the Indians.

-- Even after trading for CC Sabathia, the Brewers are well-positioned if they want to make another deal. Matt LaPorta was the key piece in the Sabathia trade, but one scout said LaPorta was no better than the fourth best prospect on Milwaukee's Double-A Huntsville club. "(Third baseman Mat) Gamel is an impact guy, and so is (shortstop Alcides) Escobar," the scout said. "And (outfielder Michael) Brantley has a chance to be an All-Star. For a lot of people, including us, LaPorta is going to be no better than an average everyday player."

-- One other Milwaukee player to watch is shortstop J.J. Hardy. The Blue Jays are very interested in him, and some people believe that if Dustin McGowan hadn't gotten hurt, a deal could have been made (the Brewers aren't interested in Burnett). There's still a chance, those same people believe, that the Jays could pursue Hardy this coming winter.

-- The Tigers haven't been saying very much about Dontrelle Willis, who was sent to Class A Lakeland more than a month ago (and more recently was in Detroit to have his knee examined). The word is that in Willis' workouts in Lakeland, his control hasn't been any better than it was in Detroit. People familiar situation said Willis has been doing a lot of running, trying to take off some of the weight he has added.

-- While the White Sox are telling people that they're satisfied with their team and unlikely to make any significant moves, there are those who wonder whether they'd deal shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who will be a free agent at the end of the year. Whether he's dealt or not, it's unlikely Cabrera will be with the Sox next year, because rookie Alexei Ramirez is expected to take over at short, his natural position.


Some e-mails, and some quick responses:

From Josh T.: "Did you even watch the (All-Star) game? Did you see any other pitcher pitch? Did you see the defense on each side? All you can talk about is the freakin' Yanks and Boston"

Let's see, the All-Star Game was at Yankee Stadium, the MVP plays for Boston. No, I can't figure out why anyone would have written about the Yankees and Red Sox. You're right. Next time, I'll be sure to feature someone who had a bigger effect on the game. Cristian Guzman, maybe?

From Jason: "You're an idiot to suggest that CC Sabathia isn't an All-Star because he didn't make this year's team. I could make a team out of the players not on this year's (All-Star) roster and beat them in a game."

Sorry, but if you don't make the All-Star team, you're not an All-Star. If you don't believe me, then try to collect that All-Star bonus in your contract without being named to the team.

From Scott: "I don't understand why you included the pitcher from Kansas City (Zack Greinke) in your (On The Block), other than for filler."

We included Greinke because the Royals are willing to talk to other teams about him this month. No, he probably won't be dealt, because it would take a huge package to get KC to actually make a deal, but we thought it was interesting that they're even willing to discuss him.

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