When little baby Bode Greinke was carried onto the Dodger Stadium field by his mother Emily Greinke in a Rally Banana costume, I liked to have thought that Bode was fast asleep dreaming of watching his father pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I envisioned Zack Greinke as a long-time Dodger after he captured our attention and hearts with his quirky style and dominant pitching.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers will be forging on without Greinke, who officially signed his signed a six-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
Greinke’s persona often follows him off the field. Dodger fans embraced his long flying hair and immaculate control of his pitch repertoire over the past three seasons in Los Angeles.
The Zack Attack was a consistent force to be reckoned with during the period of time two of the best pitchers in the game headlined the Dodgers’ rotation as an extremely effective one-two punch.
Don Drysdale and sandy Koufax comparisons were often discussed, and Greinke seemed to be the perfect right-handed counterpoint to Clayton Kershaw’s left-handed prowess.
Losing Greinke leaves a gaping hole in the Dodgers’ starting rotation and his departure to the hitter-friendly Chase Field immediately made the current Dodgers team weaker.
Although none of the available free-agent starting pitchers this offseason are as good as Greinke, it doesn’t mean Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are not going to be able to build a strong, competitive team without a former ace come April.
Even though the Dodgers are working to bring more pitching in — they recently agreed with Hishashi Iwakuma on a three-year, $45 million deal — it will be difficult to replicate Greinke’s intelligent game that he brings to the field and club.
Greinke has become somewhat of a cult favorite amongst Dodger fans who have shared his pictures and memes with each other across social media and come to thoroughly enjoy his unique personality and idiosyncrasies.
While it will be stomach-churning to see Greinke pitch in one of those newly designed Diamondbacks uniforms next season, it doesn’t mean that his time in Los Angeles should go without remembrance.
Greinke was an impressive 51-15 over three seasons with the Dodgers, and he collected numerous awards including a Silver Slugger, two Gold Gloves, two All-Star appearances as well as an ERA title and second-place finish in the 2015 National League Cy Young Award voting.
His 45.2 scoreless-innings scoreless streak last season was incredible as well. The Dodgers ultimately did not believe the investment in Greinke was worth an average of $34 million per year, and it can be argued his right elbow has lent to some a concern.
Yet Greinke’s dominance, particularly in 2015, certainly gave him the leverage to land the historic contract after he nearly won the Cy Young and outshined Kershaw at times throughout the season.
Even though Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter and company fielded the most expensive team last season, there still is a budget somewhere. Broken collar bones and broken contracts.
Greinke’s tenure with the Dodgers was not without drama, but the 32-year-old right-hander was part of one of the finest pitching duos the Dodgers have ever had. Moving on from Greinke may not be easy, and it only raises future concern should Kershaw opt out in three years.
Maybe it’s better if we cross that bridge when we get there, but the reality is that Kershaw will assuredly garner a larger contract should he continue down his own path of dominance.
The good news is that the offseason is far from over, and the Dodgers’ front office certainly has moves up their sleeves. They attempted to trade for Cincinnati Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, and may still revive the deal in the days or weeks ahead.
The bat flips and the smirks will be missed, and Greinke’s exit to the desert left a sour taste in the mouth of Dodger fans yearning for a World Series. The loss of Greinke will not be fully realized until the dust settles after the annual Winter Meetings and Hot Stove season.
While losing Zack may not be the end of the world, it certainly is the end of an era.