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The Tools of Ignorance: Sunday News

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The dream is dead.

Zack Greinke is a Brewer.

Greinke brought back a significant haul:

Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain hit .306/.348/.415 as a late season call-up (117 wRC+) at age 24, while also posting positive defensive numbers in CF; for comparison, Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner is a couple years older and hit .277/.383/.379. Baseball America hasn't released its 2011 season ranking of Brewers prospects, but last year Cain was their #8- before going .299/.384/.425 in AAA.

Shortstop Alcides Escobar is a slick fielder with no stick (.288 OBP, 67 wRC+... yep, that number in the 200s is not his batting average, it's his on base percentage), who just completed his first year in the big league. I think Eduardo Nunez is a better prospect than Escobar at this point- Nunez outhit Escobar in each category (small sample size), and they're the same age.  But Escobar has the cache of having been the Brewers' starter rather than the Yankees' backup, and the former #1 prospect in the system.

Righty starter Jake Odorizzi (2010's #9 Brewer prospect) blazed through A-ball, striking out 135 in 120 innings with a 1.15 WHIP.  For comparison, Dellin Betances threw 80 innings between A+ and AA, striking out 108 while posting a 0.88 WHIP.

Righty reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who has twice been suspended for drug abuse (marijuana) and so is one positive test away from a lifetime ban, came back from his 100 game suspension with a fire in his belly.  He pitched 32 innings in 24 minor league games (0.93 WHIP) before leaping from AA to MLB as a September call up. The Yankees have any number of pitchers in the bigs and the minors who can stand along side this kid.

In the coming days, I'm sure we'll hear plenty about why the Yankees didn't pursue Greinke harder (the mental thing, the money involved in getting him to waive his no-trade, saving the chips for a different deal), but know this- the Yankees could have offered a better package than the Royals got and still kept Jesus Montero.

That assumes that the Royals were willing to give Greinke to the Yanks for the same price as to ship him out of the American League- given the blowback of Greinke starting in KC in another uniform and the Royals' justified sensitivity to the history of Kansas City as a Yankee farm team, I don't think an equal offer would have brought Greinke to New York.

In a prescient article, friend of PA and Fanhouse writer Frankie Pilliere took a frank look at the Yankees' farm system, and he likes what he sees:

If for a moment we could pretend that they operated like a normal organization -- that the Yankees weren't the Yankees -- we'd be pointing to all the players from within that they could use to infuse talent into their big-league roster over the next few seasons.

Pilliere writes that in scouting Montero in 2010 in Scranton, Jesus showed "a lot of inconsistencies in [his] game behind the plate, but it was nothing that I don't see from time to time from mediocre defensive catchers at the major league level."

On the rotation, he writes: "The trio of Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Joba Chamberlain in the rotation not so long ago didn't work out, but the truth is that two of those three are now solid big-league starters." While we could quibble about whether or not IPK would have survived the AL East, Pilliere's point is wondering whether, with the memory of the 2008 failure still fresh, will the organization give Betances, Banuelos and Brackman a fair shot, or will an expensive "safety net" (a la Russell Martin) be given the chance to hold back a youth movement with a higher ceiling?

As painful as it was to watch 2008, I loved seeing those three try to break in. When it comes to Martin, I think he's just a smart signing, especially if (as reports suggest) he can also play some 3B to help spell Arod.  But I think Montero should make the team and get the lion's share of the games behind the plate (100-120). 

For the young pitchers, the Yankees look to be out of realistic options to plug the holes in the rotation. At this point, it feels a little like January 2004 when Pettitte and Clemens took off for Houston and left Yankee fans wondering who they'd see starting.  Unlike 2004, the Yankee farm system has developed enough to answer the call if given the chance.