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  1. It's hard to fathom that former AL Central staple Zack Greinke will be entering his 19th season in Major League Baseball in the 2022 season. At 38, the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank and could prove to be a valuable asset for a Twins rotation that is flooded with youth. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically. View full article
  2. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
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