My apologies to Prince, but the Brewers really need to sign Zack Greinke

Prince Fielder has been outstanding this season.  He hit .299.  He hit 38 home runs, one behind Matt Kemp for the league lead.  He knocked in 120 runs.  He was a major reason why the Milwaukee Brewers have just finished at 96-66, the second best record in the National League.  All of these things are going to make Prince Fielder a very, very rich man next season.  Unfortunately, I’ve finally decided that the Brewers should just let him go.  I appreciate everything that Fielder has done for Milwaukee, and I have very much enjoyed watching him play nearly every game for the past six years.  However, the Brewers need to do something else with whatever money they have at the end of this season.  They need to offer it all to Zack Greinke.

Greinke has been fabulous.  And, the thing is, many people outside of Milwaukee don’t even know it.  Greinke pitched six innings tonight and gave up two runs to finish with a season ERA of 3.83.  Not bad, but look at Roy Halladay’s 2.35 or Clayton Kershaw’s 2.28 or Cliff Lee’s 2.40.  They make Zack Greinke look like Randy Wolf, right?

The thing is, that 3.83 ERA doesn’t tell the whole story.  In fact, it barely tells any of the story.  And, of course, you all know this.  Greinke’s bad luck has been well documented.  The high BABIP, the astronomical HR%.  The difference between Greinke’s FIP and ERA isn’t nearly as huge as it was early in the season, but it’s still pretty big – going into tonight’s start, Greinke’s FIP was 3.01.  His xFIP, expected Fielding Independent Pitching, was an NL-best 2.56.  It wasn’t even that close.  Lee was second with 2.69.

Greinke was also an absolute beast at Miller Park.  His win tonight made him a perfect 11-0 at home on the season, and there is a lot of talk that, after throwing only 74 pitches in tonights game, he would make the start in Milwaukee’s second playoff game on Sunday, on short rest, so that he could pitch at home.  Sounds good to me.

The point is, Greinke’s year was really underrated.  He meant an enormous amount to this team.  What was the difference between 77 wins in 2010 and 2011?  Well, mainly, Greinke and Shaun Marcum.  Greinke has the feel of a true ace.  His numbers haven’t always quite been there, but when Greinke was pitching, it almost seemed LIKELY that Greinke was going to pitch 8 innings, give up 3 hits and 1 run and strike out 12 guys.  It may not have happened as much as we’d hoped, but who knows, maybe that’s a good thing?  If I were Doug Melvin, I would take all the money that I was stashing to make a run at Prince Fielder and offer it to Greinke (and, while we’re at it, why not Shaun Marcum).  Offer Greinke a 5-year, 90 million dollar contract.  Or a 6 year 115 million dollar contract.  Something that doesn’t completely bust the bank account, but is enticing enough for Greinke to stay.

Normally, one would expect a star like Greinke to test the free agent market, but who knows, maybe he is different.  He seems to have enjoyed Milwaukee, and it is more or less out of the spotlight.  It could be a perfect place for him.  And if the Brewers are able to lock up Greinke for another several years, weak farm system be damned – a team that has Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Jonathan Lucroy (and Taylor Green and Nyjer Morgan and Mat Gamel, etc) on the lineup card with a rotation headed by Yovani Gallardo (who is still only 25.  25!) and Zack Greinke and John Axford at the back of the bullpen is going to contend.  That’s as simple as it is.  With or without Fielder, that team will contend.  Maybe they won’t be as successful as they were this year, but they certainly won’t be bad.

I will miss Prince Fielder when he is playing for Washington or L.A. or Chicago or whoever it is he ends up with.  But I will cheer for him every time he comes back to Miller Park, and I’ll be happy for him if he finds success.  However, as tough as it is to say, I believe it would be a mistake to spend the extra money that the Brewers have obtained by means of this run of success on Fielder.  Greinke is the key to this team’s success, and he needs to stick around for the long haul.  Make it happen, Doug, and make me proud.

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