Managing Risk As A GM (The Greinke Situation)

A hot topic amongst Yankees fans over the last few days has been the mental state of Zack Greinke and his ability to handle New York. Many contended that his Social Anxiety Disorder made him a lock to melt down in New York, an assumption that is simply ignorant of the many contours of the human psyche. Having social anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you shy away from added attention or that you will have performance anxiety in more stressful situations. Some people who know Greinke, such as Joe Posnanski, thought that Greinke would thrive in a place like New York.

However, the argument at the other extreme, that Greinke’s condition is irrelevant and should not enter the calculus of a team targeting him on the trade market, was equally presumptive and short-sighted. Tim Marchman put it well:

One paradoxical effect of well intentioned efforts to treat mental illness as something that doesn’t deserve any special stigma is that it ends up being treated as something other than an illness. This can make you forget that Zack Greinke does, actually, have a fairly serious chronic illness. I have no idea what you’d analogize it to, exactly—bum elbow? diabetes? alcoholism?—but it’s a real medical issue, teams concerned with it aren’t being insensitive, and it doubtless rightly affects his market value.

Greinke’s SAD should not have been the primary consideration in weighing the pros and cons of any deal, but it certainly should be considered as an added risk factor, much like a history of arm trouble would be taken into account. The GM needs to balance the risk against the possible reward and determine the amount of talent that he is willing to surrender based upon that calculation. Thankfully, the Yankees have a GM who thinks rationally, and this is exactly how the Yankees approached a possible Greinke deal, according to Joel Sherman:

The Yankees were willing to overlook their concerns about Zack Greinke’s ability to handle New York if they could construct a trade they found tolerable for the righty.

But the Yanks ultimately decided Kansas City’s asking price — combined with their fears about Greinke’s makeup — were too much to consummate a deal, The Post has learned.

At the meetings the Yanks learned the full extent of what Kansas City would need to complete a deal. The Royals wanted catcher Jesus Montero, shortstop Eduardo Nunez and either Dellin Betances or Manuel Banuelos. The sides did not get further than that in discussions, but the Royals also said tjeu would need a fourth piece, another pitcher. Kansas City liked the Triple A-level arms such as Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova, Adam Warren and David Phelps.

Greinke suffered from social anxiety disorder and depression earlier in his career and it was believed he wanted nothing to do with a big city such as New York. However, the Yanks did believe Greinke badly wanted out of Kansas City and was willing to try to pitch in New York.

The Yankees were prepared to offer Montero for Greinke, which indicates that they did not over-inflate the importance of Greinke’s condition to the point where they were convinced that he could not play in New York. They simply saw it as an added risk, such that as the amount of talent going to KC in the trade grew, the risk began to outstrip the reward and made the trade a poor bet for Cashman. This was not insensitive, nor was it a decision based on rash assumptions about Greinke’s ability to handle New York. It was a rational cost-benefit decision in which valid risks outweighed the possible reward.

23 thoughts on “Managing Risk As A GM (The Greinke Situation)

  1. considering the current makeup of the rotation my conclusion is that the possible, and to my mind, likely reward outweighs the risk. someone posted a list of the top 10 prospects in baseball over the last decade or so- a bunch of supposed “can’t miss” type guys and in those lists, most of the can’t miss guys missed. I’m not suggesting that Montero will be a bust or that I even think he will be, but Greinke is an elite talent.

  2. Exactly, I feel like a lot of people think that Greinke is basically like having Felix Hernandez and since Yankee fans covet him so much they would be willing to give up anything for someone they feel is on par with him when I feel Greinke is at a level or two below that.

    Hernandez’s numbers over the last 5 seasons and don’t forget that Felix is 3 years younger than Zack and both of them broke into the league at age 20 (Felix 19 but his 2006 season was 20 so close enough).

    2006(20)- 3.34 xFIP
    2007(21)- 3.34 xFIP
    2008- 3.87 xFIP
    2009- 3.42 xFIP
    2010- 3.26 xFIP

    2006(20)- 3.91 FIP
    2007(21)- 3.75 FIP
    2008- 3.80 FIP
    2009- 3.09 FIP
    2010- 3.04 FIP

    2006(20)- 3.8 WAR
    2007(21)- 4.1 WAR
    2008- 3.7 WAR
    2009- 6.8 WAR
    2010- 6.2 WAR

    2006(20)- 8.29 K/9
    2007(21)- 7.80 K/9
    2008- 7.85 K/9
    2009- 8.18 K/9
    2010- 8.36 K/9

    All the Greinke numbers start in 2007 because that is when he came back from his second trip to the minors after needing a break but his year 20 and 21 season don’t compare to Felix.

    2004(20)- 145 IP, 3.97 ERA, 4.70 FIP, xFIP, 4.28, 2.2 WAR
    2005(21)- 183 IP, 5.80 ERA, 4.49 FIP, xFIP, 4.64, 2.6 WAR

  3. Yankees have all these prospect that everybody wants. I say we stand pat, be patient for a couple year and make a repeat run like in the late 90’s with home grown talent

  4. When it was tweeted that the Yanks could have Greinke for Montero and Nunez, I thought two things. One, that probably is not true. And two, that would totally be worth the risk. But, when adding one of Banuelos, Betances or Brackman as well as a Warren/Noesi, it would not be. Still close though depending on which of the three B’s.

  5. Terrific piece Mo, very balanced and fair. The reward may have outweigh the risk, but when you find out the cost the decision becomes easier. They wanted a no-brainer package for Grienke and he’s a…”brainer”?

  6. It doesn’t sound like KC wanted half as much from Mil as they did from NYY. It’s funny that some teams are willing to deal with us on a pretty even basis, but others expect us to pay more than anyone else.

    I wouldn’t have made the rumored trade, let alone the other one. I think Montero’s going to be a lot more valuable going forward.

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