And by breakdown I don’t mean of the crying variety with Zach Greinke suffering from an abulia. (Sorry, it was the Word of the Day.) My favorite fantasy baseball writer, Eric Karabell, did a breakdown of the Royals pitchers. (You can click that link but I think you need to be an ESPN Hindsighter™ to read it. And you thought they were for the populous. Well, they are, the paying-money populace. Don’t cha know, they’re owned by Disney. But I digress.) Within Karabell’s piece, he breaks down what he thinks of Gil Meche and Zach Greinke for this year in fantasy baseball. So what did Karabell say that sent me from scratching my head to banging it against the wall?

Karabaloney ranks Gil Meche ahead of Zach Greinke, saying this:

Meche is not off to the same start as last year, of course, when his April ERA was 2.18, and if you remove that month from his 2007 ledger, his final ERA jumps from 3.67 to 4. Maybe he is just average. Isn’t that OK? I have no problem that he is, because Meche is relatively safe at the back end of a fantasy rotation. He’s the most experienced pitcher on the Royals staff, about the only one capable of strikeouts….

Now before you argue with that, he preceded that by saying:

Look, I won’t listen to any arguments about the current statistics. It’s just too early.

Well, that squashes anything anyone could possibly say.  Anyway, what Karabaloney says about it being early is true. So that makes it surprising when he takes Greinke’s early season stats and uses them as fact.

Greinke’s problem could be strikeout rate. It wasn’t an issue a year ago…

Greinke’s strikeout rate is also after three outings?! How is okay to look at Meche and say, “Hey, it’s early. He’s gonna be just fine. I bet my ugly face on it.”

Over 1000 innings, Meche’s major league strikeout rate is 6.38. Just under 500 innings, Greinke’s K/9 is 6.41.  Sure, it’s a smaller sample size but he’s five years younger and he went caca-cuckoo for a year so there’s less miles on his arm. Last year Greinke’s rate was probably a little high because of a lot of it came in middle relief, so what’s fair to say about both of these guys? Both of their K/9 is close to 6. That means Meche is not the only pitcher capable of strikeouts.

Also, Meche will walk more hitters than Greinke. Maybe none of this means anything to Karabaloney, but Meche’s career WHIP is 1.41. Greinke is 1.37.  Now is Meche safer because of his track record? It makes him more predictable, and if we look at his track record, it makes him pretty bleh. On the other hand, Greinke has upside. Will Greinke be a top twenty pitcher at the end of 2008? No, probably not, but to say Meche is better is just stoopid. Now go get your shinebox!