The Welcome Return of Zack Greinke

March 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Yasiel Puig, Zack Greinke | Leave a comment

For the first time since March 1, Zack Greinke is on the mound in a Cactus League game for the Dodgers, facing off against Wade Davis and his old Kansas City squad. With the possible exception of Skip Schumaker over Mark Ellis at second base, it sure looks like Greinke will be backed by something that’s going to look a hell of a lot like the Opening Day lineup.

Dodgers
Royals
LF
Crawford
LF
Gordon
2B
Schumaker
SS
Escobar
CF
Kemp
DH
Butler
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Moustakas
RF
Ethier
C
Perez
SS
Cruz
1B
Hosmer
3B
Hairston
CF
Cain
C
A.Ellis
RF
Francoeur
P
Greinke
2B
Getz

That doesn’t include Yasiel Puig, though we’ll of course be besieged by questions about whether he’s on the roster until the day he’s sent down. (Which I still believe he will be, though I admit I’ve softened on my certainty over it lately.) That’s especially the case when Don Mattingly is saying things like, “we’ve talked about Puig in all different scenarios,” though I suppose you can’t be too surprised that the manager is impressed by a guy hitting .527 this spring.

But even if (and when) Puig doesn’t make the roster on April 1, Ken Rosenthal makes a great point — teams still need to be scared about what his looming presence means:

No, rival executives are concerned that Puig’s ascent eventually will help the Dodgers secure other top prospects.

How?

By pushing the Dodgers to trade one of their expensive corner outfielders, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier – and secure additional young talent by paying most of that player’s contract as part of the deal.

In other words, the Dodgers not only can outbid teams for stars, but also can buy their way out of mistakes and come out ahead. And, at a time when teams face new restrictions on spending for both domestic and international amateurs, the Dodgers’ financial might could give them a huge advantage in amassing top prospects.

That, my friends, is what’s known as “a good problem to have”.

Back to Grienke, he’s expected to throw about 60 pitches tonight, and 75 against the Angels this weekend. Assuming that all goes well, he’ll probably avoid the disabled list and pitch on April 5 against Pittsburgh. You can catch the game tonight on MLB Network, and you can tell it’s getting late in the spring because the expected pitchers behind Greinke are Matt GuerrierJ.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, & Brandon League — big leaguers all. Yes, even you, Guerrier. I guess.

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