A Mets Package That Might’ve Gotten Greinke

NOTE: This article was written by Matt Himelfarb

Like most Mets fans, I was a bit dismayed when I first heard that the Brewers acquired Zack Greinke. For one, I have always had a soft spot for Greinke, who is nothing short of an inspiration to me. See, by all accounts, Greinke’ social skills are like a cross between McLovin and Brian from The Breakfast Club. Yet, the dude is a Cy Young caliber pitcher, and his social phobia did not stop him from hitting on Emily Kuchar junior year. I have been blogging since I was 12, which as you can imagine has done wonders for my social skills. Hence, Greinke is a boss man in my book.

What really irked me, however, was that it appeared the Brewers acquired Greinke for a pittance. I was vaguely familiar with all the players the Royals received: outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress. An intriguing crop of young players, yes, but it hardly struck me as a Greinke-worthy package.

Upon closer examination, however, an equivalent deal for the Mets would have looked something like Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia, Cesar Puello, and Ruben Tejada. Now, I know even those who defend this deal from the Royals perspective might think I am exaggerating, but hear me out on this one.

Ike Davis (Alcides Escobar): The 24 year-old Escobar was basically a replacement level player last season (0.6 WAR), hitting .235/.288/.326 in 552 plate-appearances . Meanwhile, Davis held at his own at the same age, hitting .264/.351/.440 in 601 PA’s, and was worth 3.4 WAR last season. Of course, Escobar plays a premium position, while Davis is a first-baseman, but Escobar’s wOBA (.270), was still over 50 points below the league-average shortstop (.326), while Davis’s (.345), fell only about 20 points short (.364), than the average at his position.

Don’t expect Escobar’s BABIP, however, to be as low as it was last season (.270), considering his minor league track record, 21.6% LD rate, and the fact he has some decent wheels. A .300+ wOBA is probably more reflective of his performance last season. Let’s not forget he was also ranked the 12th best prospect in all of baseball coming into last season.

Plus, Davis’s impressive WAR can be largely attributed to having saved over 10 runs on defense last year. As we know, UZR is notoriously inconsistent from year to year. Yes, Escobar might never develop into an offensive force, but those same doubts apply to Davis.

Jenrry Mejia (Jeremy Jeffress): Jeffress is a short, hard throwing right-hander with electrifying stuff, but lacks a true third pitch and is prone to struggling with command. Remind you of anyone?

Jeffress’s marijuana issues are well documented. Now, I am the first to say it’s a downright tragedy that a talented young man has been kept from fulfilling his dream for indulging in Tim Lincecum‘s favorite pastime. That being said, the fact Jeffress knew he was risking possible suspension certainly raises some questions regarding his commitment to the game.

Makeup issues aside, though, Mejia and Jeffress are awfully similar. I know Jeffress was a reliever all of last season, but Mejia would have been toiling in the Mets pen all of it last year too if Jerry Manuel had his way. Plus, Mejia’s health is also a concern going forward.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis (Lorenzo Cain): Cain is clearly more valuable than Nieuwenhuis at this point. He is far more capable of sticking in center, his plate discipline is better, and he has produced at the major league level (albeit in a small sample size). Still, since I would give Mejia the edge over Jeffress, Nieuwenhuis, or Ruben Tejada, Zach Lutz, Sean Ratliff, etc. would probably suffice.

A lot of people have written off Cain as a fourth outfielder, but his skillset reminds me of Angel Pagan.

Cesar Puello (Jake Odorizzi): The Mets do not have a pitching prospect of Odorizzi’s caliber, but he and Puello are at similar stages in their development, and I would be surprised if they were not valued similarly at this point.

Now, assuming Greinke would have approved a trade to Flushing, would I make this deal? Considering Greinke has been worth an average of 6.5 WAR while pitching in the American League, he would certainly make the Mets wild-card contenders, but he would hardly guarantee them a playoff spot. Even if he was willing to sign an extension, considering he is only 27, he would probably ask for at least an eight-year deal. For what its’ worth, Greinke’s K rate fell nearly seven percent from 2009-2010. Thus, I would be hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal, as I would any pitcher.

Man, it would be tempting though.

Matt is a high school student in New Jersey and avid Mets fan. He occasionally updates his blog at: matthimelfarb.wordpress.com
  1. Santa December 22, 2010 at 8:42 am
    You would give up Ike Davis for a guy that his had one really good year and some serious anxiety issues? Thank God you’re not the GM!
  2. Walnutz15 December 22, 2010 at 9:55 am
    I concur.

    This team’s got enough to worry about……a controllable and developing Ike Davis isn’t one of those things.

    Greinke be damned.

  3. Joe Janish December 22, 2010 at 11:09 am
    I guess it depends on what you think Ike Davis will become — rather than what he is right now — and whether you think Greinke’s CYA was a fluke. Personally, I’d gamble that Davis won’t become Adam Dunn or Prince Fielder and swap him for a pitcher of Greinke’s ilk and age. Even if Davis does turn out to be better than Adam LaRoche some day, it’s a heckuva lot easier to find a first baseman who can hit than it is to find an ace starter under the age of 30. I realize Davis is still young, can still improve, is very cheap, and under control for several years, but he plays a position that is usually easy to fill with a big bat.
  4. Walnutz15 December 22, 2010 at 11:38 am
    With all of the back-and-forth about how the Yankees would be interested in trading for Greinke — after losing out on Cliff Lee……I really think Greinke wanted no part of being here.

    Hence, his present Brewer uniform. I just don’t buy that he would have waived the NTC to go to The Bronx — and would only be convinced of that in hearing him come out to say it himself. Everything we heard was from another source, or through the grapevine that he would/wouldn’t waive the clause for certain teams.

    With regard to Ike Davis, I think the Mets have themselves the perfect 1st baseman for their current squadron-state.

    They’re not likely to deal for a big-time arm, nor sign one….other than a risk/reward starter (Young, Francis, Garcia) — and the rest of the team looks like it’s shaping up to be of the prototype “let’s see what we have this year” variety.

    No sense in tossing Ike Davis into a package for an arm; unless they had some kind of inkling that they were going to add LaRoche via free agency.

    ……and that ain’t happening this winter, since we’re looking to spend less than $4MM on a starting pitcher.


  5. Metstheory22 December 22, 2010 at 11:38 am
    After 7 seasons and 2 winning seasons, with the most being 16 games. I think it is way to much for this pitcher. Maybe for a Santana, Carpenter, Halladay, YES. Not for someone with his “makeup”
    Do we think we will get more in years to come from Davis, Mejia and rest than 1 pitcher with anxiety problems.
  6. hernandezhof December 22, 2010 at 11:39 am
    I think the Brewers package is better than your Mets offer for one reason – Escobar’s upside is MUCH higher than Davis’. As you said, Escobar was the 12th ranked prospect in all of baseball. Davis wasn’t even in the top 100. Escobar struggled a bit last year, but he is still a plus-plus defender at SS with some offensive skills.

    Add in the fact that the Royals already have a top notch 1B prospect and no one at SS, and the Mets would have had to sweeten this deal significantly (Niese?) to pull it off.

  7. Justin December 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm
    im glad they didnt trade for Grienke…he wont be able to handle NY & is already 28 yrs old…its not like the mets will be able to compete this year or next anyways

    Besides Ike is making a lot less & has way more upside

    no reason to deplete their already thin minor league system when it will take at least 2 years to make the Mets competitive…just when Grienke will be a FA

    • Kevin December 23, 2010 at 12:14 am
      Ike Davis has more upside than Greinke? I’ve heard it all now.