The market for starters has shrunk by one. Zack Greinke is going to the Los Angeles Angels for rookie shortstop Jean Siguera and a pair of minor league pitchers, Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg. And Zack the Knife, whose preferred destination was long thought to be the Atlanta Braves, isn’t exactly unhappy about the move:
It should be fun. They are a great team. After the first month of the season, they have been one of the best teams in baseball. There is a lot of talent there. A lot of great players. The pitching staff will be pretty incredible.
Neither is Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto, who’s seen dividends enough with the winter signings of pitcher C.J. Wilson and (after a very sluggish beginning) first baseman Albert Pujols.
It’s an exciting day. We hope that this move will be not just a short-term gain, but one that’s good for the organization. We’re excited to see what kind of a difference he can make.
Note DiPoto’s phrasing. If Greinke does help make a difference—the Angels are five behind the Rangers in the AL West, in good wild card position, but not necessarily known for liking to finish lower than first place if they can help it—“not just a short-term gain” could be code for the Angels gunning for this deal because they think they have a decent shot at signing Greinke long-term.
Greinke joins a rotation that features Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Wilson . . . and gives the Angels a quartet of All-Stars to wheel out every fifth day. His pending free agency, and the Brewers’ slide in the National League Central after losing Prince Fielder to free agency, made him expendable.
The Brewers, for their part, didn’t exactly get nothing in return. Segura was hitting .294 with seven bombs and 33 thefts at AA before his Tuesday callup to the Angels. Hellweg (all 6’9″ of him) had a 3.38 ERA in 21 AA starts; Pena, a 2.99 in 19 starts, not to mention being second in the Texas League with 111 punchouts. All three are top-ten prospects according to Baseball America, with Hellweg as the nugget ranking number four in the Angels’ system entering 2012.