Zack Greinke Traded To Brewers the headline rang out, the crier Zimmerman informing the community of the events that had transpired. The reaction from the crowd would be short to follow, and it was much more agitated than I had recalled at the time. I was new to RR, and was merely an Observer, but this was the event that led me to become a more active participant.
"SHOOT ME IN THE FACE!"
"I guess Avilies is going to play (10) Concession Manager or (11) Tarp Specialist."
Terrible, terrible trade. Worse than Beltran. Escobar will be out of the major leagues within three years.
At least Yuni is gone
Some consolation there.
Among these colorful observations there was also an air of "wait and see", particularly regarding Alcides Escobar, who was getting a lot of flack from the Facebook cognoscenti due to a poor rookie season at the plate (.235./.288/.326) but was getting high marks for defense. Others wondered what would become of Jeremy Jeffress, both due to his issues of control and some off the field concerns; Lorenzo Cain seemed like a nice piece but sort of a "meh" to "meh+", who many thought would at least be the 4th OF in 2011. Jake Odorizzi came in perceived as an optimistic, high-ceiling prospect, a guy that could excel if he continued to perform and improve, and his numbers entering the organization were very good, although in the very low minors.
So where do we stand on these players now?
Alcides Escobar: Esky has filled pretty much everyone's expectations. I was surprised when I checked, but his hitting line so far this season (.247/.283/.327) is a rough aggregate to his rookie campaign, and his wOBA is almost identical to what it was as a rookie (.271 this year, .270 last season). The only real difference is that his BABIP has risen (from .264 to .276), his LD% is down a few points 21.5 to 17.4), and it seems to have all been given to GB% (44.3 to 53.4). His BRAA (batting runs above average) last year was -21.7, and he's on pace to be right around that number this year (-16.2). However, he has also stepped up his defense this year, with 8.0 runs above average compared to 3.4 for last season, which is a quantum leap from what Yuniesky Betancourt gave us last year (-9.5) and what we would have seen from him this year (-11.5 so far. Simply stunning). Escobar is currently a 1.3 fWAR player. (side note: in 1,032 ABs, Esky has 7 HRs (1 per 147.2). Chris Getz, in 957 ABs, has 2 HRs (1 per 478.5)
Jeremy Jeffress: J.J. started off the year pretty much in-line with how the rest of the bullpen had pitched to that point. Through May 5th, he had thrown 13.1 innings, and struck out 13 batters. He also walked 8 and gave up 7 hits. Then, the thinkable happened: across two appearances on May 16th (a 19-1 blowout loss to Cleveland aka The Mazzaro Game) and May 18th (a 5-4 loss to Texas), Jeffress had a miniplosion. On the 16th he gave up four hits and two runs in 1.2 innings. He also allowed all three of his inherited runners to score. The 18th against Texas, you may remember, is one of the games the Royals managed to touch up Neftali Feliz. After Soria came in to a 2-2 game in the top of the 9th and gave up the lead, Hosmer homered leading off the bottom of the 9th on the first pitch he saw from Feliz to tie the game at 3-3. The game ranged into the 11th inning, and Jeffress came in to start the inning in replace of Blake Wood. He would do the following: Walk, Sac Bunt, Walk, Walk, Single, two runs scored, Teaford Replaces Jeffress. Shortly after this game, and without pitching again for the Royals, he was sent down to AAA, where the Royals decided to try and make him a starter. That experiment didn't last very long, and he only made three starts. His totals from Omaha: 24 IP, 27 H, 18 BB, 24 K, 5 HR. So, they bumped him down to AA, where he continues to struggle (he has made four starts for NWA for 15.2 innings with 13 BB and 7 K).
Lorenzo Cain: in 2010 at age 24, Cain got his first sample of the majors. He responded admirably, hitting .306/.348/.415 in 158 PAs. Presumably, LoCa was going to be a piece of the Royals outfield in 2011. Unfortunately (at the time) the Royals had signed OFer Melky Cabrera not a fortnight past (if you haven't read Will's piece on the signing at the time, do it now), and that coupled with the previous inking of Jeff "I'm a Leader Because I'll Show You My Balls" Francoeur, left Cain without a starting position. And being thusly a franchise who values "everyday playing time" for their prospects (except for, you know, all of those prospects they don't value it for), Lorenzo was relegated to AAA Omaha, presumably until A) Melky hit like Melky, B) Frenchy's penchant for nude BP didn't have the effect desired, C) Frenchy hit like Frenchy, D) Melky was injured, E) Frenchy was injured, F) Melky was traded, G) Frenchy was traded, or H) Melky and Frenchy were traded. Surely the odds of one of those things happening are pretty good right? Right?
Well, the long and short of it is, none of those things have happened. Melky is having a career year (.303/.337/.461). Francoeur is also having one of the best seasons of his career (plus the intangibles). Until Cabrera decided to accost his ankles, both have been healthy; They have each played in 110 games. Oh, and neither of them were traded. So, where has that left Cain? In Omaha, hitting .310/.380/.509, with 23 doubles, 6 triples, 14 HRs and 12/17 in stolen bases (last season in AA/AAA with the Brewer's org., he was 26/29 in SBs). The easy thing to say is this season, in terms of Cain and the big leagues, is a perfect storm. The Royals signed two young, veteran outfielders prior to the Greinke trade. They promised them both a starting job (promises, promises). Both decided to play above expectations. At the deadline, the Astros traded 4,169 outfielders, and the Royals' front office, possibly combined with their own high asking price, were left without a trade partner. And so here we find ourselves. The good news is, Cain is not burning service time on a meaningless season. The bad news is for you to decide.
Jake Odorizzi: Depending on which reports you read, Odo was either the Brewers' #1 or #3 prospect in their organization at the time of the trade. He was, however, widely considered to be their best starting pitching prospect, although he only had one season above rookie ball. Since he came over in the trade, he has pitched phenomenally. He started the year in High A ball, having pitched the previous season for Wisconsin in the Midwest league. In 2010, he pitched in 23 games for Wisconsin, made 20 starts, threw 120.2 innings, and struck out 135 batters to just 40 walks. He started 2011 in Wilmington, and picked up right where he left off. In 15 starts, he threw 78.1 innings and struck out an astounding 103 batters to just 22 walks. He was promoted to AA this season, and since then he is having to learn to adjust to the new level. His K/9 rate fell to about 6.9 and his BB/9 jumped to 3.5. He has thrown a couple of good games in AA, but overall the results have not been there (something you might take comfort in is that, when he jumped from the Arizona Fall League to the Pioneer League in Rookie Ball, he had a somewhat similar adjustment period. Different in some ways, but there was an adjustment to be made). Despite this speed bump, Odorizzi is one of the top prospects in the Royals system, and so far is still on a track to make a big league debut sometime during the 2013 season.
So there you have it. I will leave you with the same poll that Scott made last December.