Thin Brew Line

by on March 9, 2011 · 4 comments

Zack Greinke suffered an injury during an “off-the-field” activity a few weeks ago.  Turns out that the activity was basketball, and his injury was a broken rib.  Greinke injured himself going after a rebound, and all this happened before he threw a single pitch in a spring training game.  Greinke then went on to make two starts, giving up one run on six hits in 3 1/2 innings.  According to the Brewers, he’s out four to six weeks, and he may very well start the season on the 15-day disabled list. 

There is no singing and dancing.  There is no celebratory tweeting.  That’s not how we roll in Cardinal Nation.  Actually, I don’t expect that from any other team in the NL Central, either.  “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” -Ric Flair.  Everybody wants to beat everybody else at full strength.  I’m not holding back out of respect for Greinke, either.  Playing basketball was a stupid decision.  Cal Ripken Jr. was notorious for playing basketball, and he even played knowing that it might jeopardize his consecutive games played streak.  He played anyway.  Cal knew the risks.  So did Zach.  Fine.

Missing 2 or 3 regular season starts probably won’t have a huge impact on the Brewers season.  Lots of pitchers miss that many starts during the regular season, and their teams do just fine.  Just look at how many games each of the top pitchers started in 2010, and you’ll notice that not many of them notched 34 or 35.  Actually, Chris Carpenter was the only one in the NL to start 35, and only 4 NL pitchers started exactly 34.  You get the picture.  The bigger concern for Greinke might be the lack of a spring training to actually prepare for the real season.  I have the Brewers down as the leaders in the clubhouse for the NL Central crown “on paper”, but their margin for error is slim.  It’s a relatively thin line in terms of talent that separates the Brewers from the Reds and Cardinals (a line that I’ve sadly dubbed the “Thin Brew Line”). 

Losing Greinke for a few games doesn’t change that margin, though.  Some fans are panicking a bit too early.  Other fans are all too quick to smell blood in the water.  It’s not like the Brewers are automatically forfeiting the games he won’t be starting.  They may reset their expectations a bit, but that could work in their favor.  If they happen to win 2/3, then those 2 wins will suddenly feel like “bonus victories” that they didn’t exactly expect to get.  It’s a bit of a mindgame, but it doesn’t necessarily work against them.  The Brewers aren’t accustomed to being the favorite.  If they can find a way to exchange that lead dog status for something else, they will do it, and you can hardly blame them.  No team in the NL Central really wants to be considered the “favorite”, especially given the recent history of the division.

Still, I reiterate that Greinke missing 2 or 3 starts probably won’t be a deciding factor for the entire season.  The way Greinke handles his start to the season after the disabled list stint could be, though.  I expect him to be really good, and I’m not even a fan.  What must the Brewers fans expect? 

TIDBIT:  With 1 season at $13.5M left on his contract after this year, I look at this as an extended audition for Greinke.  With the kind of run support the Brewers can provide, he has a chance to put up some seriously impressive numbers over the next 2 seasons.  If he can make this basketball incident just a blip on the radar, I think that some team will throw close to CC Sabathia money at him.  If he “jumps the shark” a few times, some team will probably still throw something close to Sabathia money at him, because teams just never learn.

Like it?  Wonder if Greinke can dunk like Ripken could?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll search for the answer together!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Ann March 9, 2011

Ready for me to be a bad person?

I laughed out loud when I heard about this. Not because I’m glad Grienke is hurt. But because of how it happened.

In my defense, I also laughed when I heard about Erik Johnson getting a season-ending knee injury after a golf cart incident.

Injuries like this are kind of funny to me. Especially when they’re entirely unrelated to the game.

But again, ST awards should be cake and ice cream. Not stats and projected finishings in the division.

Dennis March 9, 2011

A laughed a bit too, because this is something I would totally do. I’m a huge basketball nut, and I probably wouldn’t stop playing basketball, even during spring training. Besides, he wasn’t alone in this. He had accomplices as well.

Honestly, I just hope people don’t give Greinke too hard a time over this, and I hope for his sake that all is forgotten by the All-Star break.

The golf cart incident was way funnier in my opinion.

JE March 9, 2011

I think the funniest sports injury in recent memory is when Sammy Sosa had to miss a bunch of games because he hurt his back sneezing. I’ve twinged my back sneezing, but I guess because Sosa played for the Cubs and that seems to be their luck, it was just funny to me.

Dennis March 9, 2011

I remember that one. I was pretty amazed that someone could actually hurt themselves that much by sneezing. The only thing I found funny about it was the way some sports news people tried to be overly serious about it to avoid laughing.

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