Prior to Saturday evening’s announcement that the Dodgers had signed free agent right-hander Zack Greinke to a record-setting 6-year/$147 million deal, I happened to be listening to MLB on XM and caught a replay of a brief interview with Angels manager Mike Scioscia from the Winter Meetings in Nashville. And while I always enjoy listening to Scioscia talk baseball, I was extremely intrigued by this interview.
As you might have expected, the interviewers (Casey Stern and Jim Bowden) spoke at length with Scioscia about Zack Greinke, who of course had not yet been signed. Two things that Scioscia said about Greinke really stuck out during the interview:
- Greinke absolutely loves to hit – something that he did exactly zero times during his short time with the Angels (interleague play had already concluded when the Angels acquired Greinke just prior to the July 31 trade deadline),
- Greinke studies video tape and detailed scouting reports on every opposing hitter that he will face, and not just quick glances either. (According to Scioscia, Greinke brings a notebook into the dugout with him).
Scioscia went so far as to say that Greinke studies opposing hitters so closely that if a potential sacrifice bunt situation comes up, he knows exactly which side of the mound the ball will most likely be bunted to.
Scioscia added that when he spoke with Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke (Scioscia’s former bench coach) shortly after acquiring Greinke from the Brewers last July, Roenicke told him that Greinke is, hands down, the smartest pitcher he has ever known.
The last major league pitcher to go to these extremes in game preparation and to receive this type of praise (that I am aware of, that is) is future first ballot Hall of Famer Greg Maddox – aka: “The Professor.” And I have to say that if Zack Greinke brings even a fraction of Maddox’s cerebral skills (and talent) to the mound every fifth day, we as Dodger fans are definitely in for a treat.
There are those who believe that Greinke’s past social anxiety disorders will prevent him from being successful with a major-market team, something that Roenicke completely debunks. Here’s what Roenicke said during a recent interview with ESPN’s Mike Bauman.
“Zack was one of the most interesting players that I’ve had, and one of the most enjoyable players that I’ve had. He’s brutally honest. He’s going to make some comments at times that you’re not going to be happy about. But then he turns around a couple of days later and you talk, and all of a sudden you’re laughing and you really enjoy the guy.
“Most of the conversations we had, when they were done, I was like: ‘Wow, that was impressive’ and he’s like that. He’s interested in a lot of things. He doesn’t like a lot of fluff talk. He doesn’t care what the weather is outside. He wants to know how his slider can get nastier, that’s what he wants to know. When you talk to him about those things that interest him, you’re in for a great conversation.”
Does this sound like the type of guy that won’t be successful with a major-market team like the Dodgers?
I hardly think so.