Heyman: Brewers Not Trading Greinke Just Yet

Yes, teams are interested in Zack Greinke. If you were a team, wouldn't you be? If I were a team, I would be interested in Zack Greinke. Unless I were a team called Tony La Russa's Hair, in which case I would rather get Wade Miley or somebody.

But will the Brewers be interested in trading Zack Greinke? That is the question. Here's Jon Heyman:

The Baltimore Orioles will make a run at Brewers star Zack Greinke, sources say, and some now believe the Orioles and Atlanta Braves loom as the most likely to land Greinke in trade.

Of course, it's very early, so early Greinke isn't even known to be available yet. The Brewers were said by a source likely to wait to see how they fair against division competition in the games following the All-Star break before deciding whether to sell.

We've already touched the Orioles (here) and the Braves (here), so I won't belabor their chances.

It's the Brewers' chances I'd like to explore.

They're eight games out of first place, with three teams ahead of them. They've been outscored by 14 runs. And they've done all this despite wonderful seasons from Greinke, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, and (before he got hurt) Jonathan Lucroy. Essentially, the Brewers have been killed by the second baseman (Rickie Weeks), the shortstops, their first basemen before Hart took over there, and their relief pitchers.

No Brewers relief pitchers has been more disappointing than John Axford.

In 2011, Axford blew two save early saves ... then converted 43 straight save opportunities, setting a single-season franchise record with 46 saves and leading the National League. This year, he ran his streak to 49 straight conversions, but since then everything's sort of gone to hell. Axford's strikeouts are up this season, but so are his walks and his home runs allowed, and he's already blown five saves. He entered 2012 with a 2.26 career ERA; his ERA this season now stands at 4.86.

If the Brewers are going to get back into contention, Axford simply has to pitch better. Or stop getting chances to blow late-innings leads. The good news is that he's throwing as hard as ever. Which doesn't mean he's not hurt. But at least there's been no hint of that, aside from the relative ineffectiveness of his pitches.

But the Brewers need more than Axford pitching like he used to. They also need Rickie Weeks playing like he used to.

Both of those things seem likely to happen. But soon enough and big enough to help them get back into contention before the trade deadline is a tall order. So it seems highly likely that the Brewers will be sellers at the deadline, and that Zack Greinke winds up pitching for a real contender down the stretch.

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