Friday, February 29, 2008

Zack Greinke

I read a comment the other day (wish I could remember where exactly so I could give the proper attribution, but I can't) that said the Royals success or failure for the 2008 season hinges on Zack Greinke. I've been thinking about that and I think that's true. I don't expect Gil Meche to have a repeat performance, but I expect him to be in the mid-four's with a .500 or so record. I don't expect Brian Bannister to have a repeat performance, but I think he's legit, and I think he'll be solid. If Greinke can become the starting pitcher we've been waiting for, that would give us three tough guys at the top of the rotation, and if you can dream a little, maybe Luke Hochevar comes of age this season, and all of a sudden, we've got one of the best rotations we've had in a couple of decades.

Dick Kaegel wrote an article for the about Greinke that is running today. Kaegel points out that Greinke returned to the rotation for seven starts at the end of last season and he posted a 1.85 ERA. Overall he had a 7-7 record with a 3.69 ERA--including some lights out work in middle relief. As you read Kaegel's article, you'll see that Greinke is still Greinke. He lives in his own world. At one point, he told Kaegel that the season is so long that he gets bored doing the same thing, so he's happy that his roles have changed quite a bit over the past two seasons. But now that the Royals have him slotted for the number three spot, Kaegel asked him if he might get bored if he stays in the rotation all season. Here was Greinke's response: "I guess if I'm starting the whole year I'm doing pretty good so it'll be worth getting bored if you're pitching good, especially if you're winning games."

When Greinke first came to the Royals in 2004, I didn't understand him. I know he was young, but he said some of the craziest things. At one point, I remember him saying that he loved throwing a big looping 12-6 curveball at super slow speeds because it looked cool. I sort of went nuts on him in a post after reading that. But since then, I've read enough about Greinke to know that he's uncomfortable talking to reporters, and he's likely to say anything to them. To some degree, I think the Royals bear some responsibility for Greinke's anxiety because they threw him into the fire in 2005 and just left him there. He ended up going 5-17 in 33 starts with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Opponents hit .309 against him and as the season progressed, it made me want to step in and say, "Enough, already."

As you know, he missed most of the 2006 season as he dealt with his anxiety and he came back strong in 2007. And now he's growing on me. I love the fact that he's battling through his fears, even though thousands of people are watching him. Not many of us can say the same thing. So, I find myself going easier on him now. And I'm rooting for him...not just on the field, but off as well.

1 comment:

KMartin said...

I have only been a "blogger" (and a Royals blogger at that) for about 6 months. With all of the blogs out there yours is the one I like to read first because it's one of the best.

Yea, nasty flu season.

I really liked Greinke when he first came up. He quick pitched, he "Effus" pitched, he pitched with personality. And I couldn't agree with you more that a lot of the Zack's issues had to do with how he was managed.
I don't agree that the season hinges on Zack's performance. The PECOTA puts our offense at 780 runs scored. If pitching matches 4.48 era like last year, throw in a X-factor (the Hillman factor) and we could see 80 wins this year!

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