Zack Greinke

Report: Royals trade Zack Greinke to Brewers

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We all went to bed waiting for a national reporter to come out and say if the rumors we were hearing last night were true and it turns out they are.

As first reported by Jim Breen of Bernie’s Blog and then Andrew Wagner of OnMilwaukee.com, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com that the Brewers have acquired Zack Greinke from the Royals for outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and prospect pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. The Brewers are expected to receive another major league player in the deal, though his identity has not been confirmed.

The original deal mentioned by Breen had Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million going to the Brewers for Cain, Escobar and Jeffress. Wagner was the first to mention the addition of Jeffress to the deal. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported early this morning that the two sides were closing in on a deal, but he spoke to the agent for Cain and Jeffress, who had not been informed of any trade. The trade would also require Greinke’s approval, since the Brewers are believed to be on his “no-trade list.”

But let’s focus on the main part of this shocking deal. If true, Greinke will join Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf to give Milwaukee the type of front four that can go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals from Day One in the NL Central. The 27-year-old right-hander saw a drop in strikeouts this past season, but his velocity was just as good as ever. He should do quite well with the switch to the National League.

Some will say that the Royals didn’t get enough here and perhaps that is true, but they were able to acquire a shortstop and a center fielder, two pieces they didn’t have in their impressive minor league pipeline. Did you really want Melky Cabrera and Yuniesky Betancourt up the middle for this team next season? Because that’s what it would have been. Greinke has two years and $27 million left on his contract and it was pretty obvious he wanted out. My only gripe is that Odorizzi won’t be ready to contribute in the big leagues right away, but the Royals aren’t exactly set up to compete next season.

Lastly, I just wanted to say, go bloggers! Everyone doubted Breen, but he went with the story and is now vindicated. Well done.

UPDATE: Peter Gammons and Tom Haudricourt are reporting that Jeremy Jeffress may not be part of the trade. They are both hearing a player to be named later.

UPDATE II: Here are the full details of the trade. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Brewers will receive Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million to cover Betancourt’s salary from the Royals for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and a player to be named later. The trade will be officially announced later today.

UPDATE III: Ken Rosenthal, Tom Haudricourt and Adam McCalvy have all heard that Jeffress may still be the player to be named later. Stay tuned.

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.