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Game 128- Yankees 10, Royals 3 (42-86)

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Its time to shut Zack Greinke down for awhile. After today's game, Greinke is the proud owner of a 3-16 record and a 6.28 ERA, through 27 starts. With loss number 16 in the books, Greinke's officially on the semi-annual 20 Game Loser Watch which means first segment coverage of an otherwise meaningless Royals-Tigers game on Baseball Tonight, an inevitable Jason Stark/Buster Olney column on Greinke's struggles and in-game cuts to RSTN from across the country. In reality, the loss total isn't the real problem: umm, the Royals don't ever win, and they hardly ever score; and you only need to look as far as Roger Clemens to understand that there's only so much control a pitcher has over wins and losses. No, the real problem is that Greinke simply isn't getting people out. His season ERA is now well into Lima-in-Houston Range at 6.28, and after running square into Jason Giambi, he's now allowed 20 HRs on the season.

As we've noted since June, nothing is being gained by sending him out there every five days. The team is not benefiting and neither is Zach/k; in fact, if anything, both interests are being hurt by the process. Ask yourself this, would Jimmy Gobble be allowed a similar implosion?

Clearly, Grienke has talent, potential and upside the size of Kansas. In 2004, at the age of 20, Greinke posted a 3.97 ERA in 145 innings of work, while managing a respectable 100 Ks against 26 BBs. This season, through his first 143 innings, Greinke's K's dropped down to 91, while his walk total nearly doubled to 43... Not the best sign. And this was before today's collapse.

I'll leave the psychoanalysis to the Royals' coaching staff, Greinke's friends and family and his (allegedly) Dallas Cowboy cheerleader girlfriend. I'm sure a case can and will be made on both sides this week about the merits or demerits of sending him down, with lots of words like "quitting", "toughness" and the like thrown around. Frankly, I don't think that matters... he simply isn't helping the Royals win right now, and he isn't, repeat isn't developing. What else is the point?

For another opinion, here's what Baseball Prospectus guru Joe Sheehan had to say about Greinke on friday afternoon:

sheboygan (atlanta): Zack Greinke had one of the ravest reviews in his player comments in the 2005 Prospectus. Did anyone disagree on Zack Greinke? Is there anything positive from a performance analysis perspective his second year?

Joe Sheehan: Me.

I've had a lot of arguments with Rany about Greinke. My case was simply this: you can't be a flyball pitcher with a mediocre strikeout rate, no matter how smart you are.

If you're looking for upside, I guess you could look at his reduced home-run rate, but I think some of that is lost when you factor in league in park.

Eventually, Greinke is going to be pretty good, but the optimism that surrounded him from 8/04 to 5/05 was wildy misplaced. Also, when was the last time the Royals developed a pitcher? Mark Gubicza?

What Royals fans will recognize is that low-strikeout-rate comment, as its clear that the team has either a) de-stressed strikeouts in drafting and instruction or b) told pitchers to "pitch to contact" or both. Unlike, say, Tampa Bay, the Royals don't have a good defense though -- see yesterday's 9th inning against NY, was there a single hard-hit ball during the inning?-- which means that its an inherently flawed strategy. Double-flawed actually, since its possibly taking away from the possible quality of the staff.

By the way, the Royals now trail the Devil Rays by 13 games in the Worst Team Standings... That hurts considering that the teams were tied heading into the last week of July.