The trade is official, the Milwaukee Brewers will send shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Jake Odorizzi along with a player to be named (who, by all indications, will be flamethrower Jeremy Jeffress) to the Kansas City Royals for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
For a complete breakdown of the players involved in the trade take a look here, it's a four for two deal with each team gaining two major leaguers. A win-win on paper.
The immediate impact can be felt just by simply looking at the Brewers rotation for the next two seasons.
1. Zack Greinke
2. Yovanni Gallardo
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
That's pretty good and more importantly that isn't just for 2011. Every pitcher in that rotation is under club control for the next two seasons at least. Also the rotation stands to be the best in the NL Central and third best in the National League, behind Philadelphia and San Francisco.
The pitching staff has been awful since Milwaukee made the playoffs in 2008, Doug Melvin needed to add two pitchers to the team that could have a real impact. He traded for Shaun Marcum, he flirted with Carl Pavano and he went for it with Zack Greinke.
The Marcum Factor
Questions arise after this trade, could Milwaukee have done this without dealing for Marcum? Maybe have held on to Brett Lawrie and used him instead of Alcides Escobar? The better question might be would this trade have happened had the Brewers not dealt for Marcum already.
Milwaukee was on Greinke's no trade list, he had to approve a deal to come to play in Brew City. He had already turned down a trade to Washington because they are too far from contending. But in Milwaukee you have a team that has a good offense and was already making moves to improve their chances in 2011. Greinke might have seen it as a chance to not save the rotation, but complete it.
The Royal Question
This also has to answer the Prince Fielder question, to trade or not to trade. Prince will finish out his career in Milwaukee and leave as a free agent. This team is built to win next year and possibly in 2012, after that who knows. One has to wonder though, would Milwaukee pursue a two-year deal with Fielder? And would Fielder be open to it or is his next pay day what matters most? Just a thought.
This team still has it's holes. Bullpen depth should be a concern, with Jeremy Jeffress traded and Todd Coffey released. Also LaTroy Hawkins is a complete wild card, you really can't expect much of anything from a pitcher his age coming off a shoulder injury. Mark Rogers is nearing the majors, but the team would probably rather see him starting in Triple-A then relieving in the majors.
Also the offense will have some questions to answer as well. Yuniesky Betancourt might have hit 16 home runs last season, but that was nearly twice his previous high. He doesn't walk much and doesn't hit for a good average, that's hole no. 1. Next is Carlos Gomez, a strikeout-prone career underachiever. He'll get yet another job to win a starting spot in the big leagues but he needs to cut down his free-swinging.
The third potential hole would be catcher. Don't get me wrong, I am a major supporter of Jonathan Lucroy but he is a second year player and he only hit .253 last season. He will be solid but not great and a sophomore slump would leave Milwaukee with holes at four of nine lineup spots (the fourth being the pitcher).
It's easy to look at this trade now and say the Brewers gave up too much or they are ransoming their future for a run now, but the ultimate judge of this deal is whether or not the team makes the playoffs. If Milwaukee takes this pitching staff and fails to make a postseason appearance than this trade was a waste.
If the Brewers make the playoffs and win, this is the trade that could define Doug Melvin's tenure as GM of the Milwaukee Brewers (it would also earn him a new contract).
History will judge this trade as good or bad.
Dear Milwaukee, looove you
If there is one clear message that is being sent it is to the Brewer fan base, a tried and true bunch that sticks it out through the good and the bad. The franchise is telling it's fans they want to win. They want to win now. Something tells me that the fans will respond.