Right hander Zack Greinke waited until nearly the end of Spring Training to hire an agent to negotiate a contract extension. Greinke will be a free agent after the season, and the Brewers have made it a high priority to sign the pitcher to a new deal. Unfortunately, and perhaps ominously, it didn't take long for the club to put extension talks on hold. "That doesn't mean we won't talk again at some point but we're going to let it rest for now" said general manager Doug Melvin. Greinke has stated in the past that he likes playing in Milwaukee, but he also said earlier this spring that free agency "intrigued" him.
The Brewers may just want to see how Greinke performs in the early part of the season before making an offer, but I think it's more likely that the player's agent is already asking for a deal like the one Matt Cain recently received from the San Francisco Giants. The Giants will pay Cain $127.5 million to retain his services for six years. While I believe that Milwaukee is willing to pay Greinke a substantial amount of money, a contract like Cain's is probably beyond what the Brewers can afford to pay, or should pay. One statistic working against Greinke is his record on the road. He's always done well in his home ballpark; he's 12-0 in Miller Park and has a lifetime record of 48-28 and a 3.45 ERA at home. On the road, he's 29-46 lifetime with a 4.29 ERA. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals in Milwaukee on April 7th, and followed that with an awful performance in Chicago where he allowed eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs.
While the Brewers were eager to get into contact talks with Greinke, they were curiously indifferent regarding an extension for Shaun Marcum. Marcum will also be a free agent in 2013, and he has expressed a desire to continue to play in Milwaukee. Working against Marcum is his poor September and his terrible showing in the playoffs last season, plus the fact that he was slowed by a stiff shoulder this spring. However, Marcum has gotten off to a good start in the 2012 regular season. He allowed three runs in six innings in a victory over the Cubs in Chicago in his first start on April 9th and two runs in seven innings in a loss at Atlanta on April 14th. He exhibited his usual excellent control, allowing just two walks in 13 innings. Based on these first two starts, Marcum appears to be back on track.
Over his career, Marcum has pitched equally well at home and on the road. He's 24-16 with a 3.90 ERA at home, and 27-17 with a 3.63 ERA on the road.
Given Marcum's recent history, I can understand the Brewers taking a wait and see approach regarding a contract extension. Based on how he's done so far, I think it would be good idea for Melvin to begin some preliminary talks with Marcum. If Marcum's salary demands are reasonable, perhaps a deal can be made during the season before he hits free agency. Considering how many prospects the Brewers traded in the acquisitions of Greinke and Marcum, it would be difficult to lose both to free agency, so I think Milwaukee will sign at least one of the two.
A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak has been a fan of the Brewers since they moved to Milwaukee in 1970.
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