Angels get their man at minimal cost
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels didn't just get the best available pitcher on the trade market when they acquired Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday -- they also kept the Texas Rangers from getting him.
It's difficult to measure which was more important. Both teams were in desperate pursuit of pitching help, the Angels because their rotation is in a state of upheaval and the Rangers because they've lost starter Colby Lewis for the season with a torn tendon in his right elbow.
But give the Angels credit for this: They made the deal for Greinke without giving up two of their most talented and in-demand young players, outfielder Peter Bourjos and pitcher Garrett Richards. That's a win-win.
Acquiring Greinke, 28, cost them infielder Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg, but Bourjos and Richards were on most teams' wish lists, primarily because they're both major-league ready. Segura, Pena and Hellweg are still considered prospects.
"We gave up two young pitchers that have a significant upside in Johnny Hellweg in Ariel Pena" general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "But Garrett's on our major league club. To take away from that right now, where we stand, would be particularly painful."
The immediate impact for the Angels is that they strengthened a rotation that has looked less than its best for some time. Ace Jered Weaver is 13-1 and No. 2 starter CJ Wilson is 9-6, but Dan Haren has had issues with his back and Ervin Santana is trying to work out delivery problems. Combined, they're 11-18.
It's uncertain whose place in the rotation Greinke will take, but manager Mike Scioscia said he'll start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels have Richards listed as their pitcher in the series finale.
Greinke was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers, who have fallen out of the race in the American League Central and likely would have lost him to free agency this winter. GM Doug Melvin said he and Greinke's agent discussed an extension in spring training, but there were no talks during the season.
The Angels' risk is that Greinke, who is being paid $13.5 million this season, will still leave after this season. If he does, the Angels will receive no draft picks as compensation.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Dipoto said. "For the time being, we're thrilled to acquire a player of Zack's caliber. We're excited to see him out there and see what kind of difference he can make for the 2012 Angels. We'll worry about the rest later."
At least one player is convinced Greinke, who won the 2009 Cy Young Award after going 16-8, will like Southern California well enough to want to stay.
"I think he's going to love it here," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Once the guy gets here and sees what it's like in Angel country, I think he falls in love with it. But until you play here and know what it's like, you'll never understand. I think he's going to work on his tan a lot, too."
Haren, who pitched six quality innings Friday to beat the Rays 3-1, said of the trade: "It really hasn't sunk in yet. He's a guy I've admired for a while. He's the definition of electric stuff, which is the opposite of me. My game is more command and his game is command and having a wide arsenal of pitches. It'll be fun to have him in our clubhouse."
From Weaver: "The guy is obviously a proven Cy Young Award winner. He brings a lot to the table. He wants to take the ball every fifth day and he wants to win. He's a guy you've seen from afar because he's been in different divisions, but it'll be nice to bring him in here and have him contribute."