Christopher Reina. 4th February, 2009 - 5:37 pm
The Royals made a long-term commitment to their pitching staff this winter by signing Zack Greinke to a four-year, $38 million contract.
Greinke's next four individual salary amounts are as follows:
2009: $3.75 million
2010: $7.25 million
2011: $13.5 million
2012: $13.5 million
Those final two seasons represent a staggeringly high financial commitment for a small market franchise that cannot afford mutli-million dollar mistakes. But they also haven't been to the postseason since 1985 when Dick Howser's club defeated the Cardinals in a seven-game series. The Royals, still a young franchise at the time, were coming off a stretch of seven postseason appearances in a 10-year span when only four teams made the playoffs still.
While George Brett and Bret Saberhagen are not walking through that door at Kauffman Stadium, they have invested heavily in the draft, giving big bonuses to Alex Gordon (2nd overall in 2005), Luke Hochevar (1st overall in 2006), Mike Moustakas (2nd overall in 2007) and Eric Hosmer (3rd overall in 2008) and also in free agency with aggressive deals for Gil Meche, Jose Guillen and even Mark Grudzielanek.
As the Royals patiently wait for the developing bats of Gordon, Moustakas, Hosmer and I'd also throw Kila Ka?aihue in there as well, they needed to retain their established talent, unlike the carousel that sent away guys like Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye it past years.
After being the sixth overall pick in 2002, it took very little time for Greinke to make his pro debut in 2004 and he posted a 3.97 ERA in 24 starts. While he wasn't a strikeout pitcher, he pitched to contact, avoided walks and took great advantage of a .269 BAbip.
He then struggled horribly in 2005 and was eventually put on the 60-day disabled list because of an anxiety disorder.
He came back strong in 2007, splitting time between starting and the bullpen, while recording a 3.69 ERA. In 2008, he established himself as a legitimate ace with a 3.47 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 202.3 innings.
Though he of course is at a tremendous advantage because this stat includes his appearances out of the bullpen, but he is 12th in ERA+ over the past two seasons, ahead of big starters like Roy Oswalt, Josh Beckett and Scott Kazmir. Unlike his first season in the bigs, Greinke allowed a BAbip of .309, which suggests his level of performance was not a fluke.
Grade for Royals: A-