Restoring the rosters: No. 29 – Kansas City

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
As I’m starting out writing these articles, I still don’t have a set order for how I’m going to rank most of the teams. However, three rosters really stood out from the pack with only a casual view. One of those rosters will take the top spot in the rankings. The other two belonged to Kansas City and Cincinnati.
Rotation
Zack Greinke
Luke Hochevar
Chad Durbin
Kyle Snyder
Glendon Rusch
Bullpen
J.P. Howell
Jeremy Affeldt
Kiko Calero
Mike MacDougal
Brian Sanches
Brian Bass
Tim Byrdak
Well, the Royals have an ace. And the bullpen looks pretty solid with Howell, Affeldt and Calero. Unfortunately, there’s just no rotation after Greinke and Hochevar, and Hochevar has a 5.40 ERA despite showing signs of improvement this year.
Durbin, Snyder and Rusch all had ERAs right around 6.00 in their Royals career, combining to go 25-56. Still, they might at least be able to eat some innings. One could argue for putting Howell or Affeldt in the rotation, but both had plenty of time to succeed as starters and never did. They’re almost certainly more valuable protecting leads, not that they’d have much chance of that on this squad.
If you think Tom Gordon might have something left, you can squeeze him in over Bass or the third lefty, Byrdak. There isn’t much else to choose from.
Lineup
LF Johnny Damon
CF Carlos Beltran
RF David DeJesus
DH Billy Butler
3B Alex Gordon
2B Mark Ellis
1B Kila Ka’aihue
SS Mike Aviles
C Matt Treanor
Bench
INF Joe Dillon
C Sal Fasano
OF Mitch Maier
INF Andres Blanco
Kansas City’s lineup outshines its pitching staff, thanks largely to a pair of outfielders who have long since moved on. DeJesus will have to play out of position in right, but that’s still a strong outfield. The rest of the group is less impressive. Butler and Gordon still have some work to do to prove they’re going to be above average regulars. Ellis is solid, but prone to injury and there isn’t much behind him. I’m going with Ka’aihue at first, with Dillon as his platoonmate against lefties. Aviles gets the nod at short, since the only alternative is Blanco. Treanor and Fasano comprise the catching duo, leaving Paul Phillips out of the mix.
Mike Sweeney didn’t make the cut. Dillon is probably the better hitter right now, and he offers some versatility.
Summary
GM Dayton Moore doesn’t deserve much of the blame for this mess, even if it does look like the Royals are 0-for-3 in hiring GMs since John Schuerholz left in 1990. Herk Robinson brought in Beltran and Damon, but that’s still not much of a haul for a 10-year reign, and Allard Baird’s run was brutal. If it seems that the Royals have had a lot of bad luck when it comes to prospects, they’ve brought much of it on themselves. They overworked their young pitchers, and they encouraged their young hitters to be overly aggressive at the plate. Those practices seem to have stopped, and the team’s drafts have gotten considerably better under Moore. Still, it’s going to be a long time before the turnaround is complete.

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)
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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.