Blog Entry

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Posted on: February 23, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 4:21 pm


In a wide-ranging interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Zack Greinke admitted he "just did what he was asked" the second half of 2010 for the Royals, a tacit admission he wasn't invested in his or the team's production.

"When the games started, I pitched 100% every time," he said. "But in the second half, I just did what was asked."


"Close to the trade deadline and I was doing all this stuff, the organization wasn’t really doing the same effort. They were doing the same effort the long run but not for that season or the next season. It’s not easy to play 162 games and be focused the whole time. It takes a lot out of you."

No one's denying that it's difficult to be focused for 162 games. After all, it's a marathon, not a sprint. But to admit that he didn't do all that he could have done in the second half is not just a disservice to himself, but a disservice to the game. His frustration doesn't appear to stem from the way the Royals did business -- just how they were approaching the season, which speaks to Greinke's personal motivations.

"They’re probably No. 1 in prospects in all of baseball," he said. (In fact, they are No. 1, and by far.) "When your prospects are that good, it’s hard to ignore it. It had to almost change the path of the organization."

That's exactly what happened in K.C., as the Royals are preparing for a brutal season this year, all in the name of working in their top players over the year and into 2012. That doesn't give Greinke license to take the year off, however. And looking at his first- and second-half splits, it's easy to see the difference. In 18 starts prior to the All-Star break, Greinke posted a 3.71 ERA, whiffing 101 and walking just 22. That's not close to his 2009 AL Cy Young Award season, but still a darn good pitcher.

The second half, however, saw his ERA spike to 4.72 in 15 starts, punching out 80 and walking 33. While his strikeout rate only dipped 0.8 points, his walk rate ballooned. So the statistics back up Greinke's claim that he didn't do above and beyond what was asked of him (which was simply to take the ball every fifth day). 

And yeah, even though the Royals weren't -- and didn't -- win, you don't get paid $7.25 million to jake it.

The Royals may not have put a winning team around Greinke, but to repay this way K.C. for the hoops it jumped through to make sure Greinke got the treatment and time needed to deal with his social anxiety disorder is disturbing. Then-GM Allard Baird was tireless in defending Greinke for walking out as one of the best pitching prospects that had come along in quite a long time. To hear Greinke tell it, he could have sworn he was done with baseball.

Greinke"I was done playing [in my mind]," he said. "I was surprised I came back. They had me see a psychologist. We found out what was going on and why I didn’t like going on a baseball field. I thought it was a 10 percent chance of coming back."

Now that he's admitted how he dogged the second half of the year, it will be a reputation that ends up following him for the rest of his career. Now, teams know to keep him happy and keep the team winning, or he'll check out. And that's not a reputation you want, especially when the team already has to manage keeping him happy, which is clearly difficult to do. 

And what happens if Milwaukee fails after the year? They gave up major pieces of their future to get Greinke, expecting him to pitch at the top of his level for at least the two years he is under contract. But this is a team going for it this year, with Prince Fielder as a free agent. Although Grienke says he expects the Brewers to win beyond 2011, Fielder or not... what happens if they don't win? Does Greinke check out?

As a Brewer, he's been pleased with how camp has gone so far, saying he has fit in easily. But then you hear this: "I like a lot of the guys. I haven't seen anyone yet that's annoying to me. They've all been good."

Now, it's very difficult to judge Greinke for this particular bit, as the fact remains that he has social anxiety disorder and it clearly affects him, and those that don't suffer from it can never truly know what it is like. Still, it's notable that he looks out for people that could be "annoying" -- and given his social anxiety disorder, he could find simple chit-chat annoying. That appears to be why he dislikes talking to the media, because of all the "eyewash comments" he gets when "random people come and waste my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question out because they’re like buttering me up," Greinke says. "Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of 10 minutes, and in that 10-minute time I don’t get to do what I needed to do."

Except that's a cop-out, right? After all, Greinke had plenty of time for the media last year given he wasn't preparing to pitch after the All-Star break.

"To talk to people, I have to spend energy talking to them," he said. "If I expend my energy on talking to people and making friends, it takes away from the energy I could focus on getting ready to pitch. I try to avoid nonsense talk."

Greinke clearly views communicating with people as an expense, and he admits it affects him in meetings with the team or the daily pitcher/catcher meetings prior to each game.

"It wears me out to do stuff like our meetings every day," Greinke admitted. "If I actually listen to the person talking, it’ll wear me out. So I kind of go into a little daze. Then I’m still refreshed from it."

Give Greinke credit for this: he's honest, and he's not afraid to show how he feels. This allows us to understand where he's coming from. It can't be easy to suffer from social anxiety disorder and play a profession that demands constant interaction.

Openly admitting not giving his all, however, is unacceptable no matter the circumstances.

UPDATE: This is important -- Tom Haudricourt wrote a follow-up article later Wednesday that made clear that none of the reporters sensed any "malice" on Greinke's part with regards to the comment about annoyance and the media. "These are simply the daily demons that he deals with," Haudricourt writes.

Let's be clear about one thing. I certainly wish no malice on Greinke's part. In fact, I find it impressive and commendable how far he has come and how successfully he has managed his disorder.

It remains no excuse for dogging it. And Greinke clearly stated that he did. 

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB

Since: Mar 26, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:14 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

So hbk, are you predicting the Brewers will be 15 games out in the second half or are you just being an ass and trying to piss me off?  I really don't think that is going to happen.  It will be a very tough division to win, but I think it is going to be a very tight race all the way to the end.  I said in my post that his behavior has me a bit worried, but we'll cross that bridge when, or if we get there.  The point of my post was calling out the guy who ran his mouth without completely informing himself about the entire article. 

Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:47 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

You mean a player for a team that was out of the playoff race in mid-June and has annually been on the verge or dipped below the 100 loss mark for the season doesn't give his full effort?  Oh the humanity!!!

He may not be the best role model because of this, but seriously...this happens A LOT.  The only players that are trying their hardest when in a similar situation as Greinke are either the few exceptions, or they are playing for a contract that gets them the hell out of dodge.

Since: Nov 15, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:28 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Did the Royals pay him less money when they we're out of the playoff race?? NO!!  Did fans pay less money to see him pitch when the Royals we're out of the race?? NO!!  So when things are going poorly at your job do you work poorly?? I hope not. 

Since: Nov 15, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:25 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

You're kidding right??  You think that a guy who does no preparation between starts is okay as long as he gives 100% when he pitches.  We will see if you like him doing the same thing in the second half this year when the Brewers are 15 games out of first place.  As the leader of that Royals staff last year, he set a poor example to the other pitchers and all of his teammates as well by not preparing between games. 

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:07 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

The Jeff George of Baseball

Since: Aug 12, 2010
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:05 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

If he's "annoyed" by such things as talking to people that are part of his job and sitting through meetings that bore him, then I must have social anxiety disorder too. I think I'll tell my boss about my disorder tomorrow. How do you think that'll work out.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:05 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Master - Maybe the payroll guy with the Royals gets tired of writing checks to Greinke and decides not to pay him for the last half the year.  Maybe he just decides to mail it in himself.  After all, it's not like he doesn't have to come to the office every day all year round and pay punks like Greinke $7.35 mm per year while he gets $7.35 an hour.

Since: Mar 26, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 9:57 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

If you are not going to give your best effort, be a man and stand up and tell the manager before the game, "hey, I'm not going to give it my best effort today" so the team can let someone else pitch who will actually try to earn their money.

It sounds to me like you didn't give 100% in your reply to the article.  If you would have read the whole thing you would have seen the statement that whenever he took the field he gave 100%.  He said he just did what was asked of him.  What that tells me is that between starts his preparation for the upcoming opponent is what was lacking.  Studying video tape, learning certain batters tendancies, those types of things are what he was not giving his all to.  Don't get me wrong, as a Brewer fan things like that kind of worry me because in this day and age that is a big part of the game.  That doesn't mean I'm not happy to have him in Milwaukee.  I'm really hoping we see more of the '09 Greinke than the '10 version.  But please, before you start running your mouth read the whole article that you are going to comment on.  And to the guy who mentioned the Royals winning "guaranteed"  Championships in 2014 and '15, good luck.  I would love to see this once proud franchise and fellow small market team become relavent again. Sadly, until your upper managment figures out a way to develop and retain even a fraction of all your young talent, nothing is going to change. 

Since: Feb 23, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 9:32 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Scumbag.  That's it.  If I pay you to do a job, do the damn job.  Period.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 8:59 pm

Greinke admits dogging it with Royals

Holy crap give this kis an f--ing break!  I would love to play sports for a living, but if I was on the Royals there is no way that I would be able to play my hardest the whole season.  I mail it in when I'm down 13-19 in ping pong.  If my team's record was 25-50 halfway through the season there is no way I would be able to play my hardest.

For those saying that he only plays 35 games a year, it is completely irrelevant how  many games he plays in.  The season is 162 games long and he has to be at the field and traveling for 162 games.  It's not like he takes the 130 games he's not playing off, he still has to go travel, practice and everything for a full 162 games.

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