Tag Archives: Mike Olt

Bravo, Doug

Posted by Steve

As soon as Zack Greinke turned in an outstanding performance on Tuesday, he became the center of attention in baseball circles. He was the number one target and was sure to be dealt.

For two days, the Brewers’ front office fielded calls from a handful of teams. In the end, it seems to have come down to Texas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles/Anaheim, with the White Sox high in interest but low in ammunition. Texas seemed to be the frontrunner, they have the best farm system of any interested team, and Mike Olt seemed like the target. Sure enough, we now know the Brewers targeted Olt but were rebuffed. In fact, the Rangers wouldn’t even give up starting pitcher Martin Perez, according to Ken Rosenthal. After that, the took the deal from the Angels.

And a solid deal it was. A few weeks ago, I handicapped potential Greinke suitors. I ranked Texas number 1, but LAA number 3, and the first name I mentioned was Jean Segura. He was the Angels’ top prospect and a logical target considering the Brewers’ need for a shortstop.

In addition to Segura, the Brewers added AA pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena, two power arms with good upside.

Segura was the Angels number 1 prospect and was rated #43 in baseball by Baseball America in their recent midseason rankings. By that count, that would mean BA now has him as the Brewers’ number one prospect (Tyler Thornburg is the only other Brewer on the list at #48). He’s only 22, and at 5’10 and 165 isn’t quite Altuve in his stature but is still small. His ceiling is a leadoff hitter with solid power for a shortstop. The question is his defense, though it’s not a huge one. He has a strong arm and decent range, but he doesn’t project to be a defensive wiz like Jurickson Profar or somebody like that. Some scouts question whether he can stay at shortstop long term or will need to move to second, but for now there’s no reason not to put him at short and give him a long leash. He’ll start at AA Hunstville, but I’d be surprised if he was down there more than a few weeks. It’s not like the Brewers have an above replacement-level shortstop holding him off.

Hellweg is an exciting player as well, though he’s more of a boom-or-bust. He’s a giant; is 6’9″ frame helps him generate a mid-to-upper 90s fastball. While his floor is lower than someone like Tyler Thornburg or Wily Peralta, his ceiling is likely the highest of any pitcher in the Brewers’ system. He’s a fine player to take a risk on as a secondary piece in a trade. He may be the key to this deal; if he develops into a top-of-the-rotation starter, the Brewers will have gotten a steal.

Pena has been a starting pitcher throughout his career, although it seems possible he could move to the bullpen. He was rated as having the best slider in the Angels’ system.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this trade. Not over the moon thrilled like I probably would have been with a return of Mike Olt+ from Texas, but considering he wasn’t available, I don’t doubt this was the best return the Brewers could have gotten.

A small part of me was terrified Melvin would either go for an established player with only a couple years of team control left, or or a young major league pitcher with a limited ceiling for Greinke. He did neither. The Brewers control the rights of all of these players for their first six years in MLB, which is extremely valuable.

According to Baseball America’s pre-2012 rankings, the Brewers got the Angels’ number 1, 4, and 9 prospects–a great return for just two months of Greinke.

The Brewers traded Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress for Greinke. This package is behind that, but not by very much. Another way to look at it is the Brewers traded Escobar, Odorizzi, Cain, and Jeffress for 1.5 years of Greinke/a deep playoff run, Segura, Hellweg and Pena.

Not bad at all.

Judgment Day

Posted by Steve

Dominoes are starting to fall around Major League Baseball. Two or three trades went down today, depending on whether Ryan Dempster accepts his trade to Atlanta. Two of those deals involved big-name pitchers who are impending free agents. Dempster went to Atlanta (assuming he accepts) for starting pitcher Randall Delgado, ranked the #46 prospect by Baseball America entering this season. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were traded from Florida to Detroit for a package that included starting pitcher Jacob Turner, ranked #22 on the same list.

The package Florida received for Sanchez and Infante would have really excited me had the Brewers got that for Greinke. These deals are encouraging for the Brewers, because (a healthy) Greinke should bring back more than either Sanchez/Infante or Dempster.

The “healthy” part is the key. Tomorrow is a huge day for the Brewers and any team interested in Greinke. You can bet that after the bizarre “battery recharging,” teams will want to see him have an effective start in which he at least convinces people he’s healthy. If he does, I anticipate tomorrow being Greinke’s last start in a Brewer uniform.

Detroit and Atlanta are presumably out of the starting pitching market after their deals today, although you never know. More likely now would be Washington, Baltimore, and Anaheim.

Two other things might be working in the Brewers’ favor.

1. The Phillies are really trying to re-sign Cole Hamels, and there seems to be a real chance he signs. If he does, that leaves Greinke as the clear top starter available.

2. The Rangers just lost starting pitcher Colby Lewis, who will need Tommy John surgery. Their need for a starting pitcher is even greater now than it was. The Angels are within striking distance, and the hard-charging A’s are close behind them (Darkhorse Greinke candidate?)

Assuming Greinke looks okay tomorrow, my guess is that he goes to Texas for Mike Olt. Philly seems to be demanding Jurickson Profar for Hamels, but I still have to believe he’s untouchable. If Greinke looks good tomorrow, the Brewers should offer him to Texas for Olt. I now believe, given the deals made today (which would seem to raise Greinke’s price) and Texas’ increasing desperation, they would be willing to trade him.

There could be more parts involved, maybe someone like K-Rod, Nyjer Morgan, Kameron Loe, the Brewers’ competitive balance draft pick going with Greinke, or some other lower-rated players coming back to Milwaukee along with Olt.

Anyway. Just a guess; we’ll see what really happens. Only thing for sure is tomorrow is a huge day for the Brewers and the trade value of Greinke. Here’s to a strong start from him. It will be bittersweet, knowing he’ll be leaving, but it’s the best thing for the franchise at this point.

The market for Zack Greinke

Posted by Steve

I’m doing it. I’m going there.

It’s still not completely impossible for the Brewers to come back and reach the playoffs, especially with that fifth playoff spot this year, but every time I mention this their odds just go down. I’m also doing it because my own personal interest has shifted from the performance of the team to the potential trade targets.

Baseball Prospectus still, somewhat amazingly, gives the Brewers a 13.4% chance at reaching the playoffs. There are nine NL teams with better odds, and 11 NL teams have better records than the Brewers right now. Couple that with the way the Brewers have looked lately, and can you blame me for focusing on trades?

Naturally, the guy teams are first going to be interested in is Zack Greinke. This is doubly true now that Shaun Marcum is on the DL (please return before the trade deadline…).

We’re seeing national reports within the past week or so confirming that the Brewers will deal Greinke if they don’t have an extension in place by the deadline. I would argue that the return would be better if they were willing to trade Greinke earlier than that. We saw this from the other side when Doug Melvin upped his return for CC Sabathia in 2008 in order to get Sabathia in early July rather than at the July 31 deadline.

Of course, I was hoping the Brewers would be able to sign Greinke before the season started. Then the Matt Cain deal happened, and just about all realistic hope of re-signing Greinke went out the window. The Brewers can’t afford to pay Greinke $125 million. I was thinking 90-100 mil before the season, but all he’s done now is raise his value. He’ll reach the open market, and he’ll most likely top Cain’s deal.

That sucks, but compounding the problem would be hanging on to Greinke, missing the playoffs (a very likely outcome), and only getting draft picks for him. The Brewers need to realize that they have a good opportunity in front of them. For the last several years, while still doing a solid job, Doug Melvin has largely built his team for the short-term rather than the long-term. Major acquisitions, like those of Jeff Suppan, Aramis Ramirez, Randy Wolf, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Eric Gagne were done with short-term results in mind over a long-term view.

Now, Melvin has the chance to take a long-term approach that could really help the team if he hits on some trades. Since the Brewers don’t seem interested in a long-term rebuilding project, trading for prospects at, say, the AA level will speed up the process quicker than getting compensation draft picks for their free agents.

Therefore, there is no reason impending free agents should be kept. Greinke is obviously the big prize, but Marcum could net something valuable as well if he can get himself healthy. Wolf, K-Rod, and Morgan don’t have a ton of value, but there is no reason to keep them around this year either.

To be honest, the only guys close to untouchable on the entire team would be Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo and Jonathan Lucroy. I don’t expect Hart, Weeks, or Axford to go, but I’d certainly listen to offers. A good trade piece would also be Norichika Aoki.

This is all a post for another day, though. I have to think the first one to go would/will be Greinke, so let’s focus on him. I want to take a look at the teams who might be interested in Greinke.

First, let’s determine who the “contenders” are. These teams are within five games of their division leader OR had real playoff aspirations to start the year and aren’t yet buried:

Yankees
Orioles
Red Sox
Rays
White Sox
Indians
Tigers
Royals
Rangers
Angels
Nationals
Braves
Mets
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Dodgers
Giants
Diamondbacks

First thing that comes to mind when I look at that list: That’s a lot of teams. Most of MLB is on that list, because more teams are within reach in their divisions than in a normal year. Combine that with the extra playoff spot, and the Brewers might find themselves with more potential suitors than normal.

Obviously, we can still narrow that list down.

The Royals aren’t drowning yet because that division has been disappointing. The Tigers will pick it up KC isn’t going to make the playoffs, so they won’t be mortgaging their young talent to get Greinke back.

The Mets are doing well, but they aren’t there quite yet. That division will come down to the Nats and Braves.

Same with the Pirates. Nice season, nice pitching staff, but just not the offense. If anything, they’ll try for hitting. They’re out.

Then we can go to teams who don’t have real needs at SP/have much bigger needs on offense. Those would include: The Rays, White Sox, Red Sox, Braves (even with Brandon Beachy going down for the year, their rotation goes about 7 guys deep), and Giants.

Let’s look at the revised list:

Yankees
Orioles
Indians
Tigers
Rangers
Angels
Nationals
Reds
Cardinals
Dodgers
Diamondbacks

Down to 11, but that’s still too many. There won’t be 11 serious suitors. Let’s keep going.

Even though I would have no problem trading Greinke as a rental within the division, I really doubt Melvin would do it. That eliminates the Reds and Cardinals. Even though Cleveland is in second place, they’re only .500, and I don’t see them making a splash after the Ubaldo Jimenez trade from last year blew up in their face. The Nationals have a good rotation already; they won’t make a huge play for Greinke (at least I don’t think). The Dodgers lost their lead to the Giants today, and have now lost Andre Ethier for a period of time in addition to Matt Kemp. I didn’t buy them as a good team anyway; I fully expect them to fade.

That leaves:

Yankees
Orioles
Tigers
Rangers
Angels
Diamondbacks

Six teams. I see these teams as the most likely to trade for Greinke. If you haven’t had enough, now I’m going to handicap them based on need, likelihood of reaching the playoffs, and whether they have a good enough farm system to get Greinke.

6. New York Yankees

The Yankees just lost Andy Pettitte for about two months, and that’s in addition to losing Michael Pineda before the season even started. The need is there, however, I’m not sure how much else matches. Right or not, there is a stigma that Greinke wouldn’t handle a large market well. I don’t really buy it, but it exists. Pettitte is due back, and most importantly, the Yankees have built themselves a fairly cushy A.L. East lead. I don’t think they’ll be desperate enough to make a big play for Greinke.

5. Baltimore Orioles

A surprise suitor on this list, Baltimore has enjoyed a surprising season. I have them this high, because in the A.L. East, they might not have a chance this good for a while. They have a stud shortstop prospect in Manny Machado. It’s very unlikely they trade him, but with J.J. Hardy locked up for the next few years, desperation could possibly win out. Pitching phenom Dylan Bundy isn’t going anywhere either. It’s tough to see a deal without one of those players in it, though. The Orioles only have one other player in Baseball America’s Top 100 list, Jonathan Schoop, and he has struggled this year in AA. They could go for a quantity over quality offer, but I hope that’s not as attractive to the Brewers.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

They’ve also had a frustrating season. I expected them to win the N.L. West, and be even better than they were last year. Instead, they’re in third place with a 39% chance at reaching the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. They just received bad news, as Daniel Hudson will need Tommy John surgery and is lost for the year. I still expect them to pass the Dodgers and give the Giants a run for their money, though.

The Diamondbacks have three great young pitchers: Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, and Archie Bradley. Bauer is out of the question; he makes his MLB debut tomorrow, just over a year after being drafted. Skaggs is only 20 years old, yet he is excelling at AA. He would be an amazing prize for 3-4 months of Zack Greinke, although stranger things have happened. Bradley may be more likely. He’s the youngest of the three, and the Diamondbacks may feel safest about losing him with the other two in the fold. He is struggling mightily with walks, though, and he is still a couple years away from the majors. I’d be surprised if the Brewers settle for him unless they were getting more in return. 3B/1B Matt Davidson could be another target. Still, Skaggs remains the remotely attainable pipe dream if Arizona and the Brewers are a match.

3. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have made a charge back into contention in recent weeks, and with that extra playoff spot this year, they sure look like they’ll be in the conversation the rest of the way. The player who comes immediately to mind with the Angels is Jean Segura, and shortstop/second baseman. He is considered the Angels’ best prospect now that Mike Trout is dominating the big leagues. Segura is not a power hitter, but projects to be a solid middle infield starter. A player to keep an eye on is C.J. Cron. I lobbied for Cron to be the Brewers’ first round pick last year, but they instead took Taylor Jungmann. Cron is off to a solid start to his pro career and would supply an impact power bat to the system.

2. Detroit Tigers

These next two I see as definite favorites for Greinke. The Tigers are desperate to win now, as their aging owner splurged for Prince Fielder in the hopes of winning a World Series this season–so the desperation is there. Desperation really helps the sellers in these scenarios. They have a big need, as their rotation is pretty ordinary after Justin Verlander. They have the prospects, too. Jacob Turner is a 21-year-old starting pitcher who is having success at AAA. I actually expect him to be called up yet this season, so he is probably untouchable in a trade. Never know though, I suppose.

A great, and possibly more attainable trade target is 3B Nick Castellanos. Castellanos was recently promoted to AA after hitting .405 in A+ ball this season. He’d be ready to take over at third base most likely by the time Aramis Ramirez’s contract expires, and very well even before then. I’d be very happy with him in a trade.

1. Texas Rangers

The desperation is there after losing the last two World Series. More importantly, the prospects are certainly there. The Rangers are stocked with elite prospects, which is why the news of them scouting Greinke today was both exciting and unsurprising. Shortstop Jurickson Profar is a top five MLB prospect and is almost not worth mentioning, because he’s that good. He’s 19 years old, is a plus defender, and has an .832 OPS in AA. Profar would be an absolute grand slam.

Another great prize, and perhaps more realistic, is 3B Mike Olt. Olt is crushing AA with a 1.009 OPS. He’d probably be MLB ready by next year sometime.

SP Martin Perez is another highly ranked prospect in the Rangers’ system, although his numbers this year in AAA are underwhelming.

Leonys Martin is a highly ranked outfielder who is excelling at AAA and would be a valuable player as well. That’s four highly ranked players that the Rangers could offer. Olt is the best player who is realistic.

It’s hard to say who would be unrealistic and who wouldn’t. One thing to consider is that with the new CBA, the team that trades for Greinke wouldn’t receive draft picks–only the Brewers would if they kept him and offered him arbitration. Still, last year the Giants traded Zack Wheeler, a great young pitching prospect, for three months of Carlos Beltran, despite language in Beltran’s contract that prevented them from offering him arbitration. If the Brewers could get that type of talent for Greinke, I’d be thrilled.