Zack Greinke is frustrated

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On a day when the Royals DFA’d Jose Guillen and in a week when they’ve done all manner of things right, Zack Greinke can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  When asked about the prospects in the Royals’ system and the team’s seemingly bright future, Greinke waxed pessimistic to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

“Every system has something. The biggest problem is I have
two more years on my contract. Are those guys supposed to make it up by
the beginning of next year? Very rarely do guys come straight into
the big leagues and make an impact, especially hitters. Just look at
the top prospects in baseball. Delmon Young was one five years ago, and
he’s finally starting to play well.

“Alex Gordon was one four
years ago, and he might be starting to play well now. So the problem
(with the Royals’ prospects) is that it’s not like as soon as they get
here that it’s going to be instant (success). Maybe by 2014. There’s no reason for me to get real excited about it, because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by
the time my contract is up is pretty slim.”

Yikes. I understand his frustration — and I also appreciate his history with anxiety and wouldn’t be shocked if there was some depression history in there too — but this is not what you want to hear from your ace.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s possible that by 2012 the Royals will be pretty darn respectable. That’s the last year of Greinke’s current deal. If I’m right, I think Zack will be in a much happier place then than he is now.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.