The Angels may have topped the Dodgers with their near-deadline deal this evening with Milwaukee, obtaining yet another top of the rotation starter, in Zack Grienke. The club gave up three top minor league prospects for the 28-year-old Grienke, who is already a number one quality starter but who should just now be entering his prime. Dealing three top prospects for a genuine pitching star is a really good deal, IF the star had a contract that extended beyond the next two to three months. Unfortunately, Grienke’s contract does not, and unless this deal produces a world championship this season, its success, its long-range success, will depend on re-signing him.
Greinke has been dynamite for MIlwaukee, going 25-9 in his season-and-a-half there, but he showed his real talent and fortitude in 2009, going 16-8, 2.16, with 242 strikeouts, for a bad 67-95 Royals team. With him in a rotation with Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, and Dan Haren, combined with a dominating bullpen and the hot hitting quintet at the top the the Angels’ batting order, these next two months look real interesting and exciting.
The Angels gave up top shortstop prospect Jean Segura, who had just made his major league debut filling in for the injured Erick Aybar. He looked overmatched at the plate facing major league pitching and will now be heading back to Double-A. While only 22, Segura’s development has been hampered by a series of injuries, Milwaukee also gets two top pitching prospects in fireballing six-foot-nine-inch righty John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
Hellwig is a high-90s thrower, and as one could guess, has been beset by control problems. Pitching in relief in 2009, he walked an astounding 45 batters in 43.2 innings (and struck out 66). The next season in split time between the bullpen and starting, he “only” walked 59 in 89.1 ip, with 113 Ks. He’s progressed more this season, but he’s one of those guys that might never reach the majors, or of whom a couple decades later it could be said something like “All the Mets got for him was Jim Fregosi?” (Nolan Ryan trade, 1972).
Pena is also a big guy who has averaged more than a strikeout an inning and who walks way too many, but he’s definitely closer to the majors than Hellweg.
The one bit of real bad news for the Angels is the activation from the disabled list of the worthless Vernon Wells who may now take some playing time from legitimate major league ball players. It’s a shame that Wells’ obscene contract makes him untradeable. The Angels front office has stepped up tremendously this past offseason signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, and now with the Greinke trade. They need to do it again and either release Wells, eating his whole contract, or dealing him the only way possible, by agreeing to pay the bulk of his salary.