Daily Dose: Brewers add Lopez at second base

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Craig Counsell and Casey McGehee have done a nice job platooning at
second base following Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist surgery, but
the Brewers went for a change anyway Sunday by acquiring Felipe Lopez
from the Diamondbacks for a pair of marginal prospects in Cole
Gillespie and Roque Mercedes. Lopez hit .305/.368/.416 in 84 games with
Arizona after batting .283/.347/.387 last season.

While not necessarily an upgrade over the previous second-base
platoon, Lopez potentially enables the Brewers to shift the
Counsell-McGehee duo to third base while phasing rookie Mat Gamel out
of the action and perhaps even back to the minors. Gamel has hit just
.239/.339/.413 through 127 plate appearances, which along with his poor
defense made him a weak spot in the short term.

Moving away from Arizona’s hitter-friendly ballpark hurts Lopez, but
he figures to continue leading off in Milwaukee and could be given a
chance to run more after swiping just six bases in nine tries. Ryan
Roberts is expected to replace Lopez in Arizona, but doesn’t offer real
fantasy value and the other in-house alternative is the similarly
underwhelming Augie Ojeda.

While Lopez joins his fifth NL team since 2006, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joel Zumaya coughed up multiple runs Friday for the fourth time in
his last nine appearances, but more importantly came out of the game
after hearing a “pop” in his shoulder. He was immediately placed on the
disabled list and an MRI exam revealed that Zumaya aggravated the
stress fracture that shut him down for the final six weeks of last
season and delayed his debut for three weeks this year.

Zumaya never ceased lighting up radar guns and actually threw harder
than ever prior to the latest setback, averaging a career-high 99.3
miles per hour with his fastball. The other good news is that a stress
fracture is less troubling that a torn labrum or rotator cuff in terms
of his long-term outlook, although at this point he’s been on and off
the disabled list for three years and is likely done until 2010.

* Ramon Hernandez has been disappointing for the Reds, batting
.249/.330/.355 in 77 games while managing just five homers and 12
doubles in 273 at-bats after coming over in the winter trade that
cleared room for Matt Wieters in the Orioles’ lineup. And now he won’t
have a chance to improve his stats in the second half, as the team
announced Sunday that he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

Hernandez being sidelined may not be such a bad thing for the Reds’
offense, as Ryan Hanigan has hit .307/.399/.385 in 285 plate
appearances of backup duties during the past two years. He’s not that
good, but Hanigan also posted a similar .296/.376/.378 line in 125
games at Triple-A and can definitely get on base at a better clip than
Hernandez. However, lack of power limits his fantasy upside.

AL Quick Hits: With trade rumors swirling, Roy Halladay allowed
one run Sunday in a complete-game win over the Red Sox … Brett Anderson
tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday, but got a no-decision against
John Lackey’s nine shutout frames … Ichiro Suzuki reached base four
times and made a game-saving catch in the ninth inning Sunday … Luke
Hochevar had a career-high nine strikeouts versus zero walks in a
no-decision Sunday … Edwin Jackson took another tough-luck loss Sunday,
falling to 7-5 despite a 2.52 ERA that ranks third in the AL … Mark
Grudzielanek could get a look at second base in Minnesota
soon after inking a minor-league deal Sunday … Joba Chamberlain
rebounded from an ugly stretch by striking out eight while allowing one
run in 6.2 innings Sunday … Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup
Sunday after sitting out two games with the flu, but went 0-for-4
against Halladay.

NL Quick Hits: Jake Fox went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs
while subbing for Aramis Ramirez at third base Sunday … Joel Pineiro
kept rolling with seven innings of one-run ball Sunday, slicing his ERA
to 3.09 … J.A. Happ improved to 7-0 with seven shutout innings Sunday …
Mark DeRosa went 0-for-2 with a walk Sunday, making him hitless in 15
at-bats since being dealt to St. Louis … Jimmy Rollins is batting .377
this month after notching three hits Sunday … Scott Olsen (shoulder) is
scheduled to be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews … Matt Cain picked
up his 11th win with seven frames of one-run ball Sunday … Alfonso
Soriano homered for the second straight game Sunday after coming back
from a dislocated finger … Andrew Miller tossed just 29 of 65 pitches
for strikes while failing to make it out of the third inning Sunday …
Rick Ankiel (shoulder) will play on despite an MRI exam revealing what
Tony La Russa called “some issues.”

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.