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Jeff Moorad withdraws his application to take over the Padres

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Former agent Jeff Moorad agreed to purchase the Padres from John Moores several years ago. The sale was to be in phases, with Moores maintaining control of the team until Moorad’s stake grew to where he would eventually be approved as the controlling party in the eyes of MLB.

Back in January, however, the owners delayed a vote on Moorad’s application, angering Moores and Moorad. There was no official explanation, but some reports suggested that Major League Baseball was concerned about the financial viability of Mooard’s ownership group. Specifically, his minority owners.

Today, Bud Selig released this statement:

“I have spoken with San Diego Padres Chairman John Moores and Vice Chairman/CEO Jeff Moorad.  They have informed me that Jeff is withdrawing his control transfer application of the Padres at this time in order to focus on completing the club’s local television contract.  I am pleased that John and Jeff are working on ensuring that the club’s games will be televised this season and beyond, and I know that they are acting in the best interests of Baseball, the franchise and the great fans of San Diego.”

Smells like a cover story. For one thing, most reports had that TV deal being done, so what the heck is Moorad needed for in that capacity?  But more generally, it sounds like the league was going to continue to give Mooard’s application grief, and that this is a nice way for him to bow out without being formally rejected.

What to make of this?  Well, if this is really a case of the league being skeptical of the finances of Mooard’s group, I suppose it’s a good thing insofar as it could signal the end of the era in which guys like, oh, Frank McCourt are allowed to buy in even if they don’t have the dough to do it.  It would be frustrating, sure, because the league has had years to consider Moorad’s bid, but if it’s about finances, it’s defensible.

The cynical part of me wonders if something else is going on. If Moorad’s history as a super agent — and thus, by definition, a former adversary of several of the guys who still own major league teams — played a part.  Could they be that petty and not be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a guy who used to be on the other side in the old, warring labor days? We’ll probably never know for sure. Baseball keeps this business close to the vest.

All we do know is that, as of now, we can add the Padres to the growing list of major league teams with some sort of strife in terms of ownership and future.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.