A month has gone by since the Greinke signing, allowing me time to think and reflect on all of this. For me, it has become apparent that
1.) Whatever plan that TLR, DJW & DS had for this off season got thrown off track by the Greinke signing.
2.) Although Greinke is only getting 24M per year in the first 6 years with the rest deferred, that is still 4M more avg annual than they offered to Cueto, and I am guessing at least some of the Cueto offer was back loaded, meaning in the first year or two at least, it is highly likely that the Greinke signing resulted in at least 4, possibly 6 million LESS than the baseball operations team was planning to work with this off season.
3.) I think their plan was to sign both Cueto and Leake, to cover the rotation, and use their trade chips to plug other holes.
4.) Then when you read Stewarts comments about very little room left in the budget, it pretty much all makes sense.
5.) I don't think they were initially inclined to give up as much talent as they did in the Miller trade. Stewart indeed wrestled with the decision to give up Swanson, as I'm sure the rest of baseball ops did too. Thats been confirmed both in their public and private statements. But they were under enormous pressure at that point to follow up the Greinke deal with another significant pitching move to solidify the whole deal and the budget no longer allowed for Leake. So they had to use trade chips to get miller. But of course Miller will still make close to 5 M in arb, so not free in dollars either.
So the Greinke and Miller deals added almost 30M to payroll, and there might be some hidden costs on the 40 man, or commitments to former players that we aren't seeing that are part of the supposed 100M payroll.
This is probably why the team has little or no more payroll flexibility to address backup catcher, second base, bullpen weaknesses, etc.
Which brings us to
The Rosenthal article detailing the minute by minute steps to the deal, and particularly how baseball ops was left out of the decision making process and only brought in to help hammer out the details leaves little debate: This is Ken Kendrick's team all the way, not only in title, but in operation. Everyone is an employee, working within the budget framework and overall guidelines he supplies. There is limited autonomy to work within that plan, but even then, any significant trades or dollar commitments within those guidelines are STILL signed off on by ownership. But beyond that, he is actively engaged in evaluating and determining which players to pursue and keep, and which to trade away.
I will leave it to others to comment as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. After all, I DID used to work for the man. I have tried to stay away from any direct personal criticism of him (and Derek) as I felt it would be inappropriate. My criticisms have been sharp at times but mostly at the personnel moves that have been made.
The one time I was critical of Ken directly was in 2012 when I felt he was making too many public comments critical of players they intended to trade, thus lowering their market value. (Upton, Bauer, Drew). I think he was counseled the same way by those still on the inside, because he hasn't done that since. Regardless of what you felt about those players, it just wasn't good business, and I'm sure he recognizes that.
It's hard to critcize Ken for bringing in Greinke. In fact, I'm ecstatic we have him. But pulling up short on the purse strings immediately after takes a lot of the euphoria out of the deal. If he agreed to GO UP IN PAYROLL to get Greinke, and the rest of the baseball operations budget was intact, then that would be fantastic. But it sure doesn't appear that way from the outside looking in.