Would signing Zack Greinke next winter really be that bad?


(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty)

Throughout the 2011-2012 Hot Stove season we have frequently looked ahead to next offseason, with its presumed bumper crop of studly free agent pitchers, including (at the moment) Cole Hamels (age 29), Matt Cain (28), Zack Greinke (28), Francisco Liriano (29), Shaun Marcum (31), Brandon McCarthy (29), Anibal Sanchez (29), and Jonathan Sanchez (30). A handful of attractive names — James Shields (31), Gavin Floyd (30), Dan Haren (32) and Ervin Santana (30) — have club options, but said options are mostly reasonably priced and it seems unlikely that any of that quartet would be bought out.

Prior to the Big Trade, it was generally expected that the Yankees would be all over Hamels should he make it to free agency, and rightly so, as it’s not every offseason an elite left-hander makes it to the open market. The case for Hamels is a no-brainer: Since breaking into the league in 2006, Hamels is tied for the 13th-most valuable pitcher in all of baseball, producing a stellar 3.39 ERA/3.63 FIP/3.42 xFIP line over 1,161.1 innings with a beautiful 8.45 K/9 and 2.26 BB/9. The only left-handers ahead of him on that list are CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee.

So unless Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro somehow convinces Hamels to take a way-below market extension a la Jered Weaver — and it’s extremely difficult to envision this happening, as the numbers suggest Hamels could very well be in line for a $161 million CC Sabathia-type deal — or is able to convince Phillie ownership that they can indeed afford another $100 million-plus pitcher, next offseason’s pursuit of Hamels will likely rival both last winter’s Lee sweepstakes and the 2008-2009 Sabathia drama as one of the craziest ever. However, in the aftermath of the Montero-Pineda deal, an additional wrinkle has been thrown into the mix, namely whether the Yankees determine they can afford to add Hamels in light of all the talk of an austerity budget.

While I personally feel the Yankees would be nuts not to do whatever it takes to land Hamels, if they do decide the lefty is too pricey or doesn’t even end up becoming available, there’s another, arguably slightly better, younger (and perhaps most importantly, presumably slightly cheaper) option that seems an even surer bet to reach free agency next winter, and that’s former Cy-Young-award-winner Zack Greinke. While the lefty Hamels has commanded much of the attention, Greinke’s future availability seems to have gone somewhat overlooked, and so I thought I’d point out why he should be just as much of a Yankee target as Hamels, if not moreso.

For one, on that aforelinked list of most valuable pitchers since 2006, Greinke is above Hamels, checking in at 7th with a 3.41/3.14/3.39 pitcher triple slash in more than 200 fewer innings than Hamels along with a sterling 8.68 K/9 and equally drool-worthy 2.33 BB/9. Of those top 30 pitchers, the only hurlers with a higher K/9 are Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jake Peavy, and the latter hasn’t been at that level since 2009. The only ones with superior FIPs are Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson.

This past season, Greinke — always a strikeout-heavy pitcher — upped his game to levels of even more ridiculousness, leading all of MLB with a career-high 10.54 K/9. His 2.98 FIP was 9th in the league, while his 2.56 xFIP was first. These are big boy numbers, and the only reason you likely didn’t hear more about Greinke’s huge year was because he started the season injured and was also betrayed by his defense, as his 3.83 ERA was fueled in part by the second-highest BABIP (.318) of his career that helped fuel the third-lowest strand rate (a below-league-average 69.8%) of his career.

The following chart helps underscore just how good Greinke has been since breaking into the league full-time in 2004 (as always, click to enlarge):

An increase in K/9 every season save one? That’ll do nicely. As he’s matured as a pitcher, Greinke also brought his GB% rate up from the mid-30%s to a career-high (and above-league-average) 47.3% in 2011. Given Greinke’s dramatic improvements on what had already been several very good pitching performances, I was also curious to take a look at his stuff:

Greinke has three legitimate weapons against righties in his four-seamer, slider and curveball, each of which generate above-average Whiff rates. Somewhat unexpectedly, Greinke’s heater has lost about 1.5mph since 2009, although this hasn’t seemed to hinder its effectiveness, as his Strike% and Whiff rate has improved in each successive year, while his In-Play% is on a three-year decline. It’s helpful to know that Greinke doesn’t need to be routinely dialing it up to 94mph to be successful with the heat, although it’ll be important to keep an eye on that velocity this coming season to see whether it takes another dip.

Greinke doesn’t really throw his change to righties, and per the PITCHf/x data he appears to have added a two-seamer in 2010, although again, given the myriad classification issues that frequently arise when analyzing this data, it’s possible there are some four-seamers being misclassified. Although the extremely low Whiff rates on the two-seamer would seem to indicate that this pitch is indeed a sinker. He went from throwing it nearly 30% of the time to batters on both sides of the plate in 2010, to under 10% of the time last season — I’m not sure what to attribute the decrease to, as the sinker appears to have helped him generate more grounders, but perhaps it’s as simple as Greinke wanting to further diversify his arsenal.

As you might expect, Greinke’s Whiff rates aren’t quite as robust against lefties, though they’re still plenty high. What he’s missing in four-seamer Whiff% he more than makes up for in Changeup Whiff%.

In sum, we have a pitcher who misses a ton of bats, has a knockout slider to complement his blazing fastball, and who also appears to have added a two-seamer/sinker to his repertoire to help spike his ground-ball rate. So essentially, Zack Greinke is a right-handed, younger version of CC Sabathia. I think we’d all happily sign up for that.

Of course, the elephant in the room is Greinke’s social anxiety disorder. I’m not a psychologist nor do I have any way of quantifying how his mental state might impact his performance, though it’s been speculated by many that Greinke may not have the intestinal fortitude to flourish under the microscope on the biggest stage in the world in the Bronx. Brian Cashman essentially echoed that sentiment during last offseason as the Yankees passed on acquiring Greinke via trade, despite the pitcher’s apparent protestations that he was indeed cut out for and eager to pitch in New York.

Even if the Yankees — and presumably, other teams — have concerns over Greinke’s head, the fact that the cost of acquiring him is just money and not prospects should help ease some of the worry. It also may help knock his price down. While the numbers indicate Greinke should probably be paid as though he were CC Sabathia, the questions about his make-up may hinder him from reaching that financial plateau. If Greinke can be had for, say, $108 million over six years ($18 million per is probably a conservative estimate) however, his market could end up depressed if GMs are afraid to pay him like an elite pitcher due to any lingering fears about SAD. Per FanGraphs’ much-derided $/WAR calculation he’s been worth an average of $25.6M per season since 2008), I don’t see any rational reason for the Yankees not to run with that deal all the way to the bank.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. mpc5150 says:

    It would be AWFUL. He would make Vazquez look clutch. Grienke has mental issues. He cannot pitch on the big stage. It’s a fact. Mthat is why he excels in the middle of no where Kansas City and Milwaukee. It would rank with the Ed Whitson, Kevin Brown, Jarrett Wright, etc acquisitions…

    • Dave B says:

      I wouldn’t go as far as this, but I would say that the RISK is greater for him flaming out in NY than other free agents that are available after this season.

      Make no mistake, I agree with Larry’s analysis, and think Greinke has above average tools to make him a great target on paper.

    • Landry says:

      And you know this how?

    • The Tenth Inning Stretch says:

      Of perhaps he excels in those places because he’s a very good pitcher and those are the teams he happened to pitch for. You can’t call it a “fact” that he allegedly can’t pitch “on the big stage” in NY when he’s never had the chance to do so. I think one of the points of this article is that we just don’t know.

    • Urban says:

      How is it that the the craziest omment always seems to be first in the thread? I smell conspiracy!

    • mpc5150 says:

      Greinke career at Yankee Stadium

      GS. IP. H. R. ER. BB. SO. HR.
      5. 18.1. 30. 25. 23. 12. 12. 6

      Your witness…….

      • Would he be facing the Yankees like he has at Yankee Stadium thus far?

        • mpc5150 says:

          he’d have 100 reporters asking why he threw Pujols the fastball that ended up as a grand slam compare to the combined two he has in Mil and KC. And he’ll be asked it over and over and over. His face will be on the back page getting Burnette scrutinity if he falters. Oh and they’ll be questioning his mental state along with his make up. Do you people really want to take a chance on this? Think about it….

          • Thanks for not answering my question. Much appreciated.

            • mpc5150 says:

              No problem, keep ignoring the obvious. It doesn’t matter who he faces. It’s the surroundings and the pressure he can’t handle. Look at his playoff numbers last year. He was awful. Again, big stage, many eyes..

              • Can I see your psych degree? Have you treated Mr. Greinke recently?

                I’m not saying your point isn’t valid; any time any player has an issue like that, it’s worth discussing. But unless you either are a psychologist/psychiatrist and/or have treated Greinke, all of what you’re saying is speculation.

                • 36nj36 says:

                  I AM a licensed mental health professional, however, it’s still inappropriate to make any assessments of Greinke from afar. That being said (as I knowingly act inappropriately), I’ve seen interviews with him, and am familiar with his quotes, etc. In my opinion, Social Anxiety Disorder does not fully explain the breadth of Greinke’s issues. His deficiencies with regard to interpersonal situations, and his apparent ignorance to the expected social norms that are implicit for most people when interacting w/ each other suggests to me that he may qualify – at least – for a PDD-NOS Dx. In that case, describing his issues as Social Anxiety would be tantamount to saying a lung cancer patient has a coughing problem. Social/Interpersonal issues (and consequently anxiety) are endemic to the larger issue of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

                  • mpc5150 says:

                    Well put 36nj36. There is enough visual and documented evidence for a layman like me to be able to see that Greinke has issues that will be magnified by the intense scrutiny of the number one media market in the world.

                    Of course, now you’ll be accused of not being a doctor and where did you go to school…..

                  • Thank you; your informed input is much more appreciated than “Well, he has a disorder, therefore he’s going to suck.”

                  • Plank says:

                    Why would you think that diagnosis is more accurate than the diagnosis of his doctor who I presume met with him at least once and likely much more than that and determined it was social anxiety disorder?

                    Isn’t the diagnosis you would give him a bit extreme, let alone couching it by saying “at least”?

                    But what do I know, you say you’re the expert.

          • Oh and while we’re citing meaningless stats, ZG has held Pujols to .375 SLG in 24 ABs.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              What sort of stage was he throwing on (off?) for those PAs?

            • mpc5150 says:

              Lol, yup, you got me Matt. I would say we’ll wait and see, but Greinke will never be a Yankee because a) his price and b) Cashman is smart enough to recognize the red flags, just as he did the first time he was available.

        • Bryan says:

          Grienke will be facing a comparable offence in Boston, and significantly better offences than what’s available in the NL in Texas, Anaheim, Toronto etc.

      • Craig Maduro says:

        So mpc, you’re going to knock Greinke based on five starts that he had against arguably the top offense in the game? And then you’re going to be a jerk when someone – politely – points out the flaw in your argument?

        • mpc5150 says:

          No, I think 36nj36 confirmed my original point before everyone went off on a tangent and he did so from a professional view.

    • Bryan says:

      BOSS article Larry. Wish a pitch type analysis was done for Pineda. Enjoyed the swagger in your writing as well.

    • Bryan says:

      BOSS article Larry. Wish a similar pitch type analysis was done for Pineda. Enjoyed the swagger in your writing as well.

    • Dan 2 says:

      It would also be awful because if we acquire a top free agent pitcher next off season it is proof that our pitcher development program is worthless and that the Pineda trade was a bad one. If one or both of the killer “B’s” don’t make the rotation in 2013, heads should roll. They have already hurt Joba abd Phil with the Joba rules and moving back and forth between starter and bullpen. Grow a pair and give the kids a chance!

  2. Plank says:

    Although you didn’t directly answer the question you posited in the title, I think it’s safe to assume you feel as I do and would say “No, no it wouldn’t.”

  3. The Tenth Inning Stretch says:

    I’m all for it, as long as the contract length is manageable. If he were truly unable to handle pitching under pressure, I don’t think he would’ve publicized a desire to pitch on NY. People forget that while Mileaukee isn’t the biggest market, they are a team with annual postseason expectations.

  4. CJ says:

    A 28 Cy Young winner. His battle with SAD is nor a matter of “fortitude” Greinke us a role model for people with an anxiety disorder he won a Cy Young award after his diagnosis and treatment if social anxiety. The key is that the Kansas City and Milwaukee, the team, fans and media have made accommodations to help him cope. So does the city if New York and it’s media have the compassion to allow Greinke to perform on the mound and make exceptions for a professional athlete who struggles publicly with something affecting thousands of New Yorkers everyday? I doubt it. This is in NY not Zach Greinke.

    • BK2ATL says:

      Hell no. See treatment of Cliff Lee’s wife, when people apparently didn’t know what who she was. NY is still NY, no matter how many out-of-towners now reside there. There are some brutal fans and media there.

      Some people are built for NYC. Some just aren’t. This is no disrespect to Greinke at all. He’s been a very good pitcher so far in his career.

      However, I do think that Cashman is doing him a huge favor. I’m not sure how thick his skin could be, same with Josh Hamilton. The pressure in NYC is much greater in NYC on the field and off. The Yankees could only shield him from so much.

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I do not buy into any of the toughness/intangible/unmeasureable memes that are out there, all usually ending in the word “Swisher,” but I firmly believe Zach Grienke would take the world’s largest dump on the mound if he ever wore pinstripes, however irrational that may be.

  6. Cris Pengiucci says:

    While Grenke seems to be a good choice by the numbers, I am not confident he’ll be available. He has mentioned (read this on MLB Trade Rumors) that he would be open to an extension with the Brewers. I also seem to remember the Yankees had some minor reservations when he became available via trade. However, if they feel he’d fit well in NY, his numbers certainly show him capable of being a #1 or at least a co-#1 along with CC. Adding him to what we have today (minus Kuroda) would be outstanding!

    I’m also not confident that Hamels or Cain will be available. Giants seem to be working to extend Cain and I think the Phils will be as creative as possible in trying to retain their home-grown talent. My guess is that the Yankees end up looking at the next-tier down on the list (still very solid choices).

  7. Thomas Cassidy says:

    I’d pick him up over any other pitcher on he market including Hamels. Greinke really wanted to play for the Yankees before being traded. I heard that he had anxiety issues because he hated having to play in KC when they continuously lose.

  8. Ted Nelson says:

    Yeah, I think he’s definitely an option depending on all the identified variables in terms of who reaches FA, their market values, the seriousness of the $189 million 2014 budget, and somewhat dependent on how the Yankees’ young pitchers do in 2012.

    As you allude to… FA vs. trade could be a big factor here. Cashman didn’t want to trade for Greinke… which doesn’t speak to his beliefs on Greinke in NY so much as it does to the prospect cost to find out. KC got a package headlined by Escobar and Odorizzi along with Cain and Jeffress. This is just speculation, but in terms of up the middle prospects and Ps… I have to think the Yankees’ equivalent would have headlined Montero + Betances with Nunez and a relief arm behind them. I’m not a big Escobar guy, but he was a SS who had been a top 10 BA prospect.

  9. Reggie C. says:

    I’d prefer to see Greinke stay with the Brew Crew only because his continued dominance in the NL would only continue and probably grow as he hits his 30s. That dominance would only become the greatest “what-if” of the decade for Yankee fans.

    Greinke saying he’s up to extend with the Brewers is interesting, but its no real change from his previous rhetoric of believing he’d excel anywhere. Now, whether he’d actually be willing to sign a slightly more expensive, Jered Weaver type deal remains to be seen.

    Of course watch Cherington sign Greinke for Weaver dollars and Yankee fans proceed to jump into the East River.

  10. Landry says:

    I love how so many people on here apparently have the medical background to predict his performance and his adjustment to NY. For all you know, some of the players who have flourished in pinstripes may have dealt with the same issues, but decided not to make it public. On the flip side, how many flops in pinstriped did not have the issue? The point is, to make a declaration of his inability to handle playing in NY is nothing more than talking out of your ass.

    • gc says:

      I’ll give that a harumph! Well said.

    • STONE COLD Austin Romine says:

      Well said.

    • CJ says:

      Kansas City and Milwaukee have made accommodations for Greinke as in no post game press interviews. Will NY accept that? Does Greinke feel that he has recovered enough to handle NY or would he rather play in ST Louis, Texas, Detroit, Cincinnati to name a few contending cities that play under less pressure than NY and have helped players excel despite personal issues Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Ron Washington.

      • Billion$Bullpen says:

        No post game interviews is bs. DO NOT WANT THIS GUY. I enjoy the game of baseball and a lot that surrounds it. Part of your job as a baseball player is interacting with the fans and media. If you make tens of millions a year to play baseball part of the job that allows you to make that money is doing the damn interviews. I prefer the mental midgets to stay off this team.

        Cole is close enough to a sissy but is still a great pitcher, and his whiney laid back way of talking is about as far as I would want to go in that respect. I like pitchers that are tough and can obviously do the job. I unlike some actually want to like the people on the team as much as I care how they play. I do not have to like every player but I would prefer to be able to root for likeable stand up types and we have more than several on our team now and that makes it more enjoyable win or lose.

        • CJ says:

          That’s why he can’t/won’t be a Yankee. Your opinion is shared by thousands but that’s life in the Big Apple.

        • Mike R. says:

          I’m not normally one of those types that easily gets offended, but as someone with social anxiety, you really come off as ignorant. “Mental midget.” Really?

    • BK2ATL says:

      Yet the one (Cashman) who probably has access to more private info on Greinke AND generally makes the decisions for the Yankees’ personnel, decided to pass when the opportunity to trade for Greinke with KC presented itself….Then said GM traded possibly 2 of the players that possibly could have been included in the trade to Seattle for a younger, less-accomplished, great upside pitcher….

      Read the writing on the wall.

      • Cameron says:

        Cashman also passed on Johan Santana, Cliff Lee, and countless other aces because he DID NOT WANT THEM FOR WHAT THEY COST. The Royals got a great package of prospects for greinke, and we would have had to pay more because we’re the yankees. While it is possible that Cashman was worried about Greinke’s SAD, you can not say that not trading for Greinke proved it.

    • CJ says:

      Not qualified to give a prognosis for sure. The question is will New York offer the same accommodations he received to help him continue to succeed.

  11. Opus says:

    Is it worse to have issues with anxiety than it is to have issues with injuries, PEDs, recreational drugs, alcohol, a temper, etc.?

    • Landry says:

      Good point.

    • CJ says:

      Thus far Zach Greinke has overcome his anxiety disorder seeking treatment, going public and winning a Cy Young award. To answer your question, he did not choose to have an anxiety disorder it’s better compared to diabetes than to substance abuse. But KC and Milwaukee have made accommodations for him to succeed. Will NY accept that he will not do post game interviews or press conferences? When he was on trading block every article written was about his SAD and heyman and Sherman said that means he can’t handle NY or we the media are not going to back down in NY.

      • Opus says:

        Where was it said he won’t do press conferences? A Google search led to one as recent as last year’s NLCS.

        I just find it curious that social anxiety, even when treated, makes the Yankees completely gunshy when they’ve been willing to take chances on lesser talent with arguably worse issues. They must think it’s more detrimental than I do.

        • Billion$Bullpen says:

          What have the Yankees “been willing to take chances on lesser talent with arguably worse issues”? Not trying to give you a hard time I just do no know what these are? On the PED front what players did they KNOW were on them before signing them? I am not saying they did not suspect Giambi, Alex etc but they had no proof to my knowledge. I am not saying I agree with how they dealt with those issues but my point remains I can no recall them wanting to take a risk on players at elite player prices while knowing there are strong issues that could effect their investment.

          Soriano a bad team mate? Swisher a bad guy? Granderson not hitting half pitchers in baseball? Not sure what the issues were you are talking of?

          • Opus says:

            If your point is strictly for elite talent, I agree it’s a different classification. They’ve been willing to give chances to drug addicts, alcoholics, clubhouse cancers, people who were great players that are on the downside of their career, people with injury histories, people who have never pitched in the major leagues, but not when it comes to one of the players they expect to be “the man” like Zach would.If we leave out the PED users, since it’s not public knowledge, I agree they’ve been safe in who they give their big money contracts to (CC, AJ, Tex, Derek, Mariano…).

            But should social anxiety be such a mitigating factor even when there’s proven performance on the field? I could see the reticence in signing him if he’s had shoulder problems or has been arrested multiple times or is from Japan or Cuba and has never seen major league quality hitters or if he’s a bad pitcher. But Zach is none of those things. He’s an elite pitcher, which the Yankees would normally covet. If he’s a #4 starter with social anxiety, I can see why they wouldn’t want to sign him. If he’s been a #1 starter with social anxiety, the thing that jumps out at me is “#1 starter”.

        • CJ says:

          When he won the Cy Young award he did a video conference call.

  12. Cris Pengiucci says:

    With the trade of Montero for Pineda, it surprises me that Cashman wouldn’t include him in a trade for Greinke. While future cost could have been a factor, we heard nothing about reduced payroll when Greinke was available. I don’t think having to add a Betances-type should have been a big deal, as Noesi was included, although the inclusion of Campos offsets that. It’s tough to evaluate trade packages, but the non-deal for Greinke still leads me to believe the Yankees have some concerns about Greinke. I could be wrong, as this is all speculation. We may get to see if he reaches free agency.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Reply fail. This was in response to Ted’s comments.

    • Mattchu12 says:

      Something to consider is that even if they had concerns about his ability to play outside of Kansas City, they might not now or at least had them lessened by his play in Milwaukee.

      Milwaukee is hardly a blip on the map. They’ve been contenders for a while now.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, it’s all speculation.

      I don’t think you can just ignore the cost issue or Cain + Jeffress.

      I agree that the Yankees probably have some reservations about Greinke’s SAD. What team wouldn’t at least consider it? And of those who consider it I’d imagine the majority would have some reservations. All I’m saying is that not giving up a package of prospects that is unknown to us to get Greinke doesn’t tell us anything about the level of their reservations.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      It’s a good question, but like you said, the future costs are much different. Grienke was 2 years from FA, and will make $27M over those 2 years, then figure the next 3 will be somewhere in the $17-20M range. Pineda will make what, about $30M over the next 5 years? With Greinke you get way more certainty, but you’re paying about $60M for that. Plus 2 other top 10 prospects at least.

      Not saying one way is right or wrong, just trying to contextualize the “future costs” argument. It’s a big deal, esp if the austerity plan in a mandate from ownership.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        Yes, but at the time Greinke was available, the new collective barganing agreement was not in place, so, from what we know, future cost shouldn’t have been an issue. It is possible, however, the Yankees new about the new provisions in the CBA and were already planning accordingly.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Yankees new knew about

        • Steve (different one) says:

          Perhaps, but then maybe you take what I said and turn it around. IOW, they wouldn’t have traded Montero this winter either if the new CBA isn’t passed. The inconsistency is what is bothering you, but it is very likely that the CBA changed their position on the availability of Montero and the original plan was to just go into next winter and throw money at a starter.

          • Cris Pengiucci says:

            The inconsistency is what is bothering you

            You hit the nail on the head. I’m just trying to determine why the inconsistency exists. Somthing I’ll likely never have an answer to ….

            • Steve (different one) says:

              If you follow the line of logic that the new CBA was the Game changer, the inconsistency becomes explainable. More importantly however, it begs the question if MLB has finally succeeded in slipping in a de facto salary cap. If the Yankees are forced to use talent to fill holes instead of just taking on more salary, this is closer to the way the other leagues operate. Something to think about anyway….

              • Cris Pengiucci says:

                If you follow the line of logic that the new CBA was the Game changer, the inconsistency becomes explainable.

                True only if the Yankees were aware of the new CBA’s details at the time Greinke was available via trade, or had already decided to limit budget on their own to some extent. Otherwise, it may point to them having a concern with him. My opinion is that Greinke was a better pick up than Pineda given his already proven ability, even when considering the other pieces involved in the trades.

                • Steve (different one) says:

                  I am saying maybe the plan was to NOT trade Montero and add a pitcher through FA. But When the new CBA was passed, they had to change their plans. Doesn’t this explain the “inconsistency” without requiring future knowledge of the CBA last winter?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Future costs are always an issue. If their budget was $210 million rather than $189 million… they still had a budget.

  13. j6takish says:

    I think his mental issues are being made into a way bigger deal than rightfully so.

    • Mike says:

      I agree !

    • Landry says:


    • Mattchu12 says:

      Completely agree. This arm-chair psychology stuff needs to stop.

      • CP says:

        You mean from people like Cashman who have actually sat down and talked to him?

      • Urban says:

        Right, but both sides are guilty of it. Neither side knows anything about Greinke or his specific disorder, so if you find yourself strongly advocating one position or another, then you are probably guilty!

        Greinke is a fine pitcher. It’s unlikely the Yankees would simply pass on him without doing quite a bit of research. Maybe they originally passed on him because they didn’t like the package or prospects they had to surrender. Maybe they passed on him because they didn’t like what they heard about his makeup.

        They could be wrong, but I certainly hope they know more about Greinke and his situation than we do.

      • CJ says:

        Will NY allow him to do conference calls instead of press conferences. He accepted the Cy Young award in a video conference call. The professional psychologists have come uP with accommodations that have helped him get around his condition and succeed on the mound. It’s not armchair psychology. What will NY demand? Treat him the same as any other player dammit! Or treat him as individual with a condition and help him through it?

    • While I agree, we should remember that to completely write it off as a not issue is probably just as ignorant.

  14. Monterowasdinero says:

    We may not need anyone. Maybe Kuroda comes back. Maybe Phil, Manny or Dellin assert themselves. Lots of “good” possibilities.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      I certainly hope some/all of them prove themselves. While I’m not sure the salary ceiling is real (or real in all cases, as I assume a top-line pitcher would trigger the Yankees to go over budget), it’s always nice to point to home-grown talent on the Yankees when someone talks about them “buying” championships.

      • JAG says:

        I think that’s a situation where you simply have to say, if that works out, great, but let’s not let top-of-the-line talent just pass us by because we were seeing if these kids can become what the top free agents already are.

        It’s kind of like trading Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson. Jackson might someday become what Granderson is right now, so let’s pay a little more and get the ceiling without the question marks.

        Even if Kuroda has a typical year or even a better year than he usually does or if Phil somehow figures it out, I’d sooner pay Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels to produce more.

  15. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:


  16. Craig says:

    Ew Bill Hall really? Hope thats not our DH…. vomit

  17. MattG says:

    I have a hard time understanding how he could’ve managed all the pressure it took to get this far, but he couldn’t manage any more. I have only two possible conclusions: SAD has little to do with performing under pressure, or he’s learned how to cope.

    I bet its some of each. To me, SAD always meant that you were really uncomfortable in social situations, like at parties and things like that. While some might say, how can that work when there are 50,000 people watching you, another might say, there’s only one person on the mound, and its not exactly a social situation (unless your catcher is Jorge Posada). Pre- and post-game might be where he has the most trouble.

    • hogsmog says:

      Yeah, In my experience (had a girlfriend for ~2 years with pretty bad SAD), it has more to do with claustrophobia in crowded places and ‘saying the wrong thing’. Like Matt said, the mound isn’t exactly a social situation, you aren’t talking to anyone/influencing whether or not they think you are a ‘weirdo’. If you mess up, it hurts your professional image, not your personal, social one, which I think many with SAD treat as different spheres.

    • CJ says:

      The mound has become a comfort zone for him which it should be because He’s one if the best in the world on the mound. He had said he has problems with press conferences. A flare up, could carry over to the field.

  18. Fernando says:

    The market for pitchers next year looks deep, but I’d hardly call all those pitchers “studly” as was noted in the article. Only Hamels, Cain and Grienke merit that label. I think the Yanks will consider any of those three. Marcum and Anibal Sanchez would merit interest, if the others are not available, but only at the right price. I’d have no interest in Jonathan Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy or Francisco Liriano.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, I agree.
      I might have interest in McCarthy depending on 2012 and $… at a low enough $ would look at Liriano, but it would a small one-year deal probably.

      • Urban says:

        Agreed on McCarthy. He’ll deserve a reassessment and a deeper look if he puts up another solid season in 2012. He’s also has, by far, one of the best Twitter accounts going from a MLB player. Not that that matters any, but thought I throw it out there.

  19. craig says:

    I like Greinke and believe he can handle NY fine. My bigger concern is if you take out his 9 WAR season, he is a 2.5 pitcher…nice, but $108 million nice? I am not sure.

    Hamels, who I like more and is LHed, has been a consistent almost 4 WAR pitcher for 6 years. This is less risk for me and worth the extras $ if he were to actually make it to free agency, although much of what I’ve read suggested that he may want to stay on the west coast.

  20. I’d be interested, but cash and co. have put a lot of emphasis on “makeup” throughout the organization of late. Signing a guy with Greinke’s issues (overstated or not) would seem to fly in the face of that philosophy.

    But who knows, right?

    • thenamestsam says:

      It’s a pretty different kind of makeup concern than most. I honestly have no idea what kind of teammate the guy is, but if they think he’s a good teammate and a good guy to have in the locker room I’m guessing they wouldn’t be too concerned about how he acts in more social situations. The bottom line is that everyone who has this kind of issue has unique symptoms and handles it in unique ways. The Yankees would definitely need to do their due diligence before acquiring him, but it’s impossible to make definitive statements about how his personal condition would impact the team based on just the knowledge that he has SAD.

      • Not sure if this was aimed at me at all, but I was making no such definitve statements.

        Also, fwiw, I have read stories about his issues extending to the clubhouse/teammates… Not that he causes trouble or anything, but that he’s kinda a weird dude to interact with and doesn’t really form relationships with his teammates.

        I’m going to try an back off now because this is not the side of the discussion I want to be on. I am of the “we as fans have no clue in this regard” philosophy.

        • thenamestsam says:

          Wasn’t intended as a critique of you at all, just a riff on your comment. Do you remember what kind of stories you heard? Based on what I know about SAD (very little) I could see it going either way where he’s essentially a pretty normal dude around people he knows well (like his teammates) but has trouble in social gatherings, or where he is awkward in the locker room as well. If he has trouble in the locker room that would be a much larger red flag for me.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Unless you’re a total jerk I think make-up often comes down to performance at the MLB level. The guys fans ascribe make-up issues to are almost invariably the guys who didn’t live up to expectations. Even guys like Barry Bonds or Manny Ramirez fans tend to give a pass when they’re on their team. A guy like Mike Mussina can treat the media how he wants and remain a fan favorite if he performs. Or look at Cano… bad season and suddenly his make-up is a concern… good season and he’s a gamer.

      With amateur prospects I think that the “make-up” concerns are different. These guys have a lot of work to do over the coming years to make MLB. Most will not make it. You don’t need to be a nice guy to make it, but unless you’re an other-worldly talent you’d better be willing to work hard. So what a team should be looking for is a guy who wants to put in the work to come close to his potential.

  21. Urban says:

    Larry, I’m not so sure that acquiring Greinke for “just money” will make the decision any easier on the Yankees. Put yourself in Hal Steinbrenner’s seat for a moment. Brian Cashman walks in to discuss signing Greinke. So what are you going to ask or say? “Uhh, Cash, you want me to sign this guy for six years and $100 million dollars. That’s my money, Steinbrenner money, and one hundred million bucks is still one hundred million bucks where I come from, Brian. Can you guarantee his social anxiety disorder won’t be a significant issue? Brian? Brian?? Talk to me Brian?!”

    Seriously, many fans (at times myself included) treat the Yankees’ money like Monopoly money. It’s not real to us, but it is real to Hal and Company. I have to say, if I was in his seat, I’d be asking some hard questions, ones that may not be easily answered. There will be some additional risk in signing someone like Greinke than signing another pitcher.

    The fact that he’s a free agent next year might make him available for a trade by mid season. Yeah, that’ll cost some prospects, but both sides might welcome the chance for a test run. If the Brewers are convinced they can’t sign him, then maybe the Yankees should think about doing a trade now, before the season starts.

    I’ve supported bringing Greinke to NY more than others because he’s been a successful MLB pitcher. I don’t expect him to melt into a puddle putting on the pinstripes. I suspect he’ll be just fine, but just a little bit different. We certainly we won’t see him doing many interviews. Yet I’m not going to dismiss he brings additional risk, and Hal certainly won’t dismiss that either. Because of that, I don’t know how hard Cashman will push to bring him to NY.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      “Can you guarantee his social anxiety disorder won’t be a significant issue? Brian? Brian?? Talk to me Brian?!”

      I’d assume if Cashman brought this request to the Yankee financial leadership that he believes Greinke will be fine. I know I wouldn’t suggest something to my bosses with a large financial implication if I didn’t think it would work (large being relative). The larger issue (if Cashman agrees that Greinke would be OK in NY) is the $189 Mil budget they appear to be working towards.

      • Urban says:

        I’m not expecting it to play out exactly like that because that’s not how these decisions are made. They are organizational decisions, with Cashman in the lead. I was making a point that someone is going to have to answer Hal’s questions and to advocate for Greinke, otherwise there’s not a chance he’s going to make it to NY. I don’t think there’s anyone in the Yankees front office who will do that based on how they passed on him already. People may believe in him just as many people here do, but it’s a lot different than saying that on a bulletin board as opposed to telling your boss to commit $100 million dollars when you yourself have questions. He can talk to all the doctors he wants, and people in the game who know Greinke, but there going to be a leap of faith at some point leading to a very large check. I don’t see it happening.

  22. thenamestsam says:

    I like Greinke and would be happy to see them sign him, but I think it’s very unlikely. The reality of the free agent marketplace is that you almost always have to overpay to get someone. Players tend to follow the money, which means you have to be willing to beat any bid another team might make. I would be very surprised if the Yankees weren’t at least a little concerned about his SAD. Not “This guy could never pitch in NY” concerned, because anyone who says that is talking out their ass, but more concerned than teams from smaller markets, because while the difficulties of pitching in NY are frequently exaggerated in my opinion, I do believe there is a kernel of truth there.

    Ultimately I’d guess that it’s a relatively small factor in their valuation. Maybe it lowers it 2%, maybe it’s 10%, I have no idea, but I don’t think it’s zero. If they could get him at 6 years, 108M I think they would jump at that, but another team from a smaller market would probably jump twice as fast, which is why he wouldn’t sign at that price. In the end I just can’t see the Yankees being willing to match the highest bid given even a small concern about his SAD. The only way I could see it happening is if the pitching completely falls apart this year, Hamels and Cain are off the market and they get super desperate. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

  23. CJ says:

    “Would signing Greinke… Be really that bad?” The headline answers the question. Greinke is a top 10 pitcher in all of baseball and we have to ask if the idea is that bad.
    King Felix
    Jared Weaver
    make up the next teir

    • CJ says:

      Sorry, forgot Clayton Kershaw at top of list. But point remains the same.
      Lester, Cain, Beckett, Haren are a notch below IMO

  24. Players with social disorders could be the next market inefficiency!


  25. Dan says:

    Someone may have already said this, but just to be clear- Greinke has GAD, not SAD. GAD is anxiety; SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a type of depression. This is way different from anxiety. I know the point is that his mental make-up is in question, but he has a history of anxiety and not depression as far as I am aware.

    • Urban says:

      Are we sure about that? Are we sure about anything when it comes to Greinke’s disorder? It has been reported that he has in the past suffered from depression as part of his social anxiety disorder. (BTW, SAD can refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as the more broad Social Anxiety Disorder, which does encompass Greinke’s condition.)

    • CMP says:

      I think Dave Winfield had SAD which is why he was called Mr May.

  26. GardnergoesYardner says:

    I don’t think the Social anxiety disorder is something that can handicap him from being a great pitcher. It’s not like he didn’t have it in 2009 when he won the Cy Young. Subsequently, it’s not like it was the reason that he pitched poorly the next year. The way you have to look at it is that it was a huge factor early in his career, but the fact that he was able to return after leaving baseball because of it shows that it’s not something that will affect him majorly. The players are real people, and all people have their own problems. Sure, he might say something ill advised at times, but the fact that he has had sucess is important. If teams don’t want to get him because of the SAD, then that’s just stupid and unfair.

    Having said that, the Yankees should not go after him. Danks should be the top of their price range, or they could pursue someone on a smaller deal. Big Deals for Pitchers=Trouble

    • GardnergoesYardner says:

      Sorry forgot that Danks signed the extension. My bad. What I was trying to say was that they shouldn’t go over 70 million or so.

      • JAG says:

        i have to disagree. You open the bank for elite talent. CC Sabathia is signed to a much bigger deal than $70MM and no one bats an eye at that. Cliff Lee would have signed a bigger deal too if he’d gone to the Yankees (and he did sign a bigger deal than $70M with the Phillies).

        Hamels and Greinke will pull in more than that, and they have proven that they are worth it.

  27. Matt says:

    Ken Rosenthal is reporting Yanks are in “serious discussions” with Bill Hall. Super-utility man? And if so does this mean no DH bat will be added?

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Again, if we use last year’s roster as a model, there is still room for a DH. It just means no Chavez.

    • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

      I think it could also mean that the Yankees could package their extra pitching and Nunez for a DH.

    • BK2ATL says:

      I read that, but my question is, why?

      Are they planning to trade Nunez or something? I doubt if they’d want to have 2 of the exact same player, and have to pay significantly more for the new one. Plus, we still need a LH bat off the bench.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I’d imagine it’s to spread risk. I’d also imagine that if Hall won’t cost very much after being the worst player on the worst team in MLB last season.

        Nunez has major risk in terms of his throwing, but major upside in terms of his solid bat and defensive ability outside of the errant throws.
        Hall has major risk because… he’s been bad a lot more often than good for years now. I’d imagine that they’re looking at a minor league or minimum deal to bring him in like they do every year with Randy Winn, Eric Chavez… whoever. A depth piece with some upside to have a good year and expendable if not.
        At this point in his career Hall might be best off limited to 3B defensively as well… so he might be a Chavez or Laird competitor/replacement more than Nunez.

        • BK2ATL says:

          Nunez will cost the Yanks at most $400k. Hall will cost approx. $2 million. They wouldn’t even give the kid from Japan that kind of deal, but Bill Hall???

          • thenamestsam says:

            Hall will cost 2M? Based on what?

            • BK2ATL says:

              “Approx.” $2 million. I think Andruw Jones and Chavez got something similar ($1.5 million, to be exact). Hall’s certainly not worth it, based on his 2011.

              Hall still doesn’t make sense, if Nunez will be performing the same exact position, but for $400k. AND we still need a LH bat.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                How many guys do you think the Yankees will have on their 25 man roster this season? I’m guessing it will be 25. I’m guessing they’ll add another bench player besides Nunez and Cervelli rather than just fill up on relievers. Multiple people have explained why Nunez and Hall are not mutually exclusive.

                What does Hall have to do with a LH bat?

                Why is Hall going to get 33% more than Jones and Chavez did last year?

                Minor league deals also aren’t guaranteed, so if they sign him to a minor league deal they can evaluate whether or not they want to pay him in ST.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      At this point in his career I hope Hall is more of a bench flier on a small or minor league deal than a projected starter. He was the worst player on the worst team in MLB last season. His wOBA has been below .300 3 of the last 4 years.

  28. DERP says:

    OT, but I just heard a crazy rumor that Edwin Jackson signed with the Nats on a one year deal.

  29. J. Scott says:

    I wouldn’t touch Greinke with a ten-foot pole. I remember reading Bill James, back in the 80′s, saying the one place he was never comfortable projecting performance was when players shifted to NY. No other big city, just NY. It really is different. To me, this would fall into the category of “Go looking for trouble.” You go looking for trouble and there’s a good chance you’re going to find it.

    • JAG says:

      Except the same can be said for any player, ever. Randy Johnson and Javier Vazquez didn’t have any expectations of crashing before they came to NY. You can use this argument to argue against signing literally anyone.

    • I Live In My Mom's Basement says:

      And yet here we have the one guy whose ability to handle pressure situations, social situations, crowd situations, is the most publicized, studied and documented in history. There is absolutely nothing hidden here. Greinke could be the LEAST risky pitcher signing the Yankees could make.

  30. CMP says:

    Hopefully the Yankees will be able to fill the rotation internally. It’s so risky giving a pitcher a long term megabuck deal. Look at how hideous failures like Burnett and Vasquez have been and Greinke will cost far more than either of those guys did.

  31. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    SAD can mean several different things. I imagine that the person who knows best if he can handle pitching in NY is him and his doctors, and if he said he wanted to do it, he must believe he can knowing his own capabilities.

    For all we know his SAD could be something to do with social situations, not fear of failure. He clearly doesn’t have an issue pitching in front of crowds.

    All that to say that it’s stupid for us to speculate and decide that a CY Award winner shouldn’t pitch in New York because of some diagnosis most of us don’t really understand.

  32. Now Batting says:

    Last I checked it was Hamels, not Greinke, who said he couldn’t wait for the world series to be over.

  33. Robinson Tilapia says:

    We’re again struggling with the difference between an opinion/hunch stated as pure speculation and treating that opinion as an inevitable fact.

    I think there’s something about Grienke that would greatly make me question his potential performance as a Yankee. I base that on the whole GAD/SAD meme (what’s his GAF score, anyway?) and the fact that I can only seemingly remember the Yankees handing him his ass at the stadium.

    I’m not going to sit there and argue the point with someone who is going from a purely statistical standpoint, though. That person’s done their homework, and I’m the first to admit that I’m just pulling it out ma butt.

    That being said, it’s your god-given right to throw stats out the window and believe your hunch. Just be prepared to be told you’re doing just that.

  34. Bryan V says:

    Although I’d welcome Hamels or Greinke, I think the Yankees have set themselves up so they don’t have to spend big money on either of those guys. They are able to win, and also save a butt-load of money.

    • BK2ATL says:

      I agree. If they hit their 2014 target of $189 million, you’re talking potentially $100 million in savings in one year. They’d be crazy not to work towards that. Signing Hamels or Greinke makes that much more difficult.

      The team is built to win right now and it’s built to absorb the eventual loss of Mariano, AJ, Garcia and Kuroda by that time while staying competitive. Jeter should be included in that, but let’s see how Nunez improves. That’s further substantial $$$ savings. While hopefully including Banuelos and Betances, maybe Adams, etc in the mix.

    • Preston says:

      I think money should be the main deciding factor in if we pursue a pitcher and who that pitcher is. We are not in a position (like we were with CC) to need that ONE guy at all costs. So if we can sign one of these guys for a reasonable contract lets do it. If not lets go a different direction. I’d pay the most for Cole, then Grienke, then Cain. I’m probably low balling all of them but I’d go 6/130 for Cole, 6/115 for Grienke and 6/100 for Cain. Of the others, I would only be interested in Marcum, Liriano, McCarthy or Sanchez if they ended up being the last man left standing in the FA musical chairs and we could get them discounted on a one or two year deal. As for Grienke’s Social Anxiety disorder, I think this is overblown. We have no idea what triggered this anxiety, or how he’s dealt with/dealing with it. If he thinks that coming to the NY Yankees and pitching on the biggest stage in the baseball world is a good decision, and his friends, family and doctors support him, and Brian Cashman and Hal Stienbrenner sit down and talk with him and decide he’s a good fit then I don’t think there is really any reason to be worried about it.

  35. BK2ATL says:

    I think this is all pie-in-the-sky anyway. I have a feeling that Milwaukee will extend Greinke with the money set aside for Fielder.

    I don’t think he’ll hit FA, esp. if the choice is between Marcum and Greinke.

  36. Jake H says:

    I live in KC and KC fans put a ton of pressure on him. They wanted him to get them back to the playoffs. Also for people thinking the pressure if going to get to him he only has to answer questions 28-32 times a year. No one is going to ask him questions about a start that he doesn’t do.

  37. Mike HC says:

    Doesn’t really seem like a good fit for either side. I definitely think he has the capability to succeed for the Yanks, but I also think that there are just better fits for him around the league.

  38. I Live In My Mom's Basement says:

    I really don’t see what SAD has to do with his likely performance for the Yankees. SAD is all about unstructured social interactions. Performing in front of 50,000 people is not a problem. A managed press conference is not a problem.

    Greinke is very lucky in that he understands his situation and can manage it. He has gone public with it; most people will accomodate him as a result, and some will not. But you can go through baseball history and identify players who had “social problems” but still performed well. Do you think Ted Williams might have had SAD? Nobody cut Ted any slack; there were press and fans who hated him for his “aloofness”, his unwillingness to acknowledge the crowd, but he ended up performing fairly well :) in spite of this.

    In some ways, KC could have been worse. People are expected to be “nice” in KC; I don’t think we have the same expectation in NYC.

  39. Joseph says:

    Break out every graph in the world, you’re smoking crack (and vast amounts of it) if you want Greinke over Hamels.

    Dude had anxiety pitching in KC, the MLB equivalent of the witness protection program and that is BEFORE you look at the fact Hamels has 80 IP in the post-season with an ERA of 3.09 whilst Greinke has an ERA in the mid sixes and a post-season WHIP of 1.60.

    On no planet, in no alternate universe do you take Greinke over Hamels if your goal is win titles.

  40. Mister Delaware says:

    Jesus Fucking Christ, nothing like Greinke talk to bring out the stupidest in the stupids. Does everyone who posts some variation of “he had anxiety in Kansas City“, as if somehow a market size dictates symptoms of an illness, realize that millions of Americans have anxiety disorders AND THEY DON’T EVEN PLAY PROFESSIONAL SPORTS?!?!?!? OMG!!!!!!!

    Fucking idiots.

  41. Jonathan says:

    I live 30 minutes from KC an have seen Greinke pitch multiple times. I’m actually in the minority that think he would pitch BETTER in a big time market. Watching him MANY times over his career he obviously became bored in KC. He had a shitty defense and no hope of winning no matter how amazing he pitched. But he still brought it. I also saw the ability to dial up his fastball when necessary to 95+mph.

    It seems odd to me that everyone basically says they’d rather have Hamels because he’s left handed…but he has a reverse platoon split, so he might as well be a righty. If you could get Greinke at $120MM vs Hamels at $160MM, I’d go with Greinke. I honestly had dreams of signing both before the Pineda trade and after the Kemp extension. I seriously doubt that happens unless we trade Nova or flip Pineda or something weird happens. But needless to say I’d be more than happy with either or.

    • Bo Knows says:

      I agree with you, I honestly don’t think he cares where he is as long as its a place he feels he could win a title.

      My favorite line from Greinke when he was asked about big markets

      “…its more people to ignore”

      This guy is a pitching genius in every sense of the word, and I think after dealing with all the personal demons he’s had, pitching in a big market would be a walk in the park.

  42. ken says:

    why not trade nick swisher to the brewers and A.J. for Greinke. the Brewers need a 1st baseman.A.J replaces Greinke. The yankees have Greinke for a year to see if he can handle N.Y. If he can’t he leaves as a free agent.

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