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July 27, 2012
Dipoto Adds Greinke to Ace Collection UPDATED
Not 10 months have passed since Jerry Dipoto became the Angels’ general manager. In that span, Dipoto has acquired Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and now Greinke; there are fantasy league general managers who have consummated fewer deals involving superstars than Dipoto has over the past calendar year.
Greinke became the best starter available on the trade market once Cole Hamels signed an extension. Although Greinke is not the best pitcher on earth—as his 2009 season made him out to be—he is a well above-average starter. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Greinke has recorded a quality start in 65 percent of his tries—placing him ahead of Dan Haren (64 percent) and just behind Wilson (67 percent). Greinke is a good starter joining a rotation that could use another with the struggles to date of Ervin Santana and Haren. Should one (or both) of those pitchers get back on track, the Angels would have arguably the best rotation assembled in the game today.
Greinke gets outs with quality stuff and a good feel for his arsenal. He mixes locations, velocity, and pitches with a fastball that can touch 95, a cutter, a changeup, and two curveballs. When batters do make contact with Greinke’s pitches, they tend to wind up on the ground. Going from Milwaukee’s infield, which ranks 25th in turning groundballs into outs this season, to Los Angeles’, which ranks second, should help Greinke out. The Angels’ defense will provide more support than the Brewers’ when the ball is hit elsewhere, too. Los Angeles ranks third in defensive efficiency; Milwaukee ranks 29th.
Speaking of the infield, Dipoto paved the way to trading Segura with a pair of other offseason moves. In re-signing Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar, he created an enviable logjam of middle infielders under team control for years to come. One downside for Dipoto is that Segura could become the best player of the three, but that might take years before it comes to fruition. Another downside is the lack of draft-pick compensation. If the Angels are unable to re-sign Greinke (and he reportedly turned down an extension offer worth five years and between $100 and $112.5 million) then there is no future value coming.
The Angels, however, are pushing for a playoff spot and a World Series title right now. They entered the night with a 78.1 percent shot at the postseason. In all likelihood, the Angels now have a better than 80 percent shot to make the tournament. If that happens, and if the Angels survive the Wild Card play-in, then they can then throw some combination of Jered Weaver, Wilson, and Greinke at a team in a short series. Good luck to those unfortunate souls. —R.J. Anderson
Acquired SS-R Jean Segura, RHP John Hellweg, and RHP Ariel Pena from the Brewers for RHP Zack Greinke. [7/27]
On December 19, 2010, the Brewers nearly emptied out a shallow minor league system to acquire Zack Greinke. Eighteen months later, the Angels nearly did the same for just two months of his time, although the availability of an exclusive window of negotiation needs to be considered as having some value. No deal for Greinke was going to happen without a stud heading to Milwaukee; the Brewers ended up with two, and the third player is more than just a throw-in.
In Segura, the Brewers get an excellent prospect at a position that is a significant team weakness both at the big league level and within their farm system. The 22-year-old Dominican was hitting .294/.346/.404 at Double-A Arkansas, but those numbers came after a slow start. He has been looking like the 2010 version of himself of late, though, after missing most of 2011 with hamstring problems. Segura packs plenty of tools into a small package. Dubbed by one scout as “aggressively patient,” Segura is not a walk machine but rarely swings at bad pitches. He has outstanding bat speed with enough juice to hit 30-plus doubles and 10-plus home runs annually. He's a plus runner who stole 33 bases in 94 games for Arkansas, although he needs to improve his jumps. Originally a second baseman, Segura has the quickness and the hands to play shortstop, but his arm is average at best. Most scouts think he can stay on the left side as an acceptable defender, with his offense more than making up for any deficiencies there. He's certainly the Brewers’ shortstop of the future (with some star potential), and that future could begin on Opening Day 2013.
Like Segura, Hellweg also has numbers that don't tell the whole story; he too has returned to previous form over the last two months. A 16th-round pick in 2008, Hellweg began his career as an ultra-wild reliever with a great fastball, but he's made a borderline stunning conversion to starting over the past two years and still intrigues scouts with his size and stuff. At six-foot-nine, Hellweg is an imposing mound presence, and his size and arm angle add a big downward plane on his plus-plus fastball that sits at 94-97 mph while touching 99. He will flash a plus power breaking ball but can get loose with the pitch and overthrow it. His changeup is there but below average. He has the stamina to start but not the arsenal at this time. Still, he'll have time to develop that. His size works against him in terms of command and control; despite an easy, traditional delivery, he has trouble throwing strikes at times. Hellweg could be anything from a no. 2 starter to a closer to just a guy with a nice fastball, depending on how he develops, but his upside is hard to deny.
Pena is more than just a throw-in; while pitching at the same level as Hellweg, he has a lower ERA and higher strikeout rate even if he lacks his teammate's upside. Still, he has plenty of stuff, highlighted by a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a bit of horizontal movement and a plus slider with good two-plane break that he can throw for strikes or use as a chase pitch. His changeup remains below average, which gives him trouble against left-handed hitters, and he has a tendency to work up in the strike zone, leading to too many long-balls. He projects as a potential no. 3 or 4 starter with power relief work a possibility if his development falters. —Kevin Goldstein
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson