Figuring out the Zack Grienke-to-Milwaukee rumor

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Saturday night saw the birth of a shocking rumor: a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel blogger reports that the Brewers and Royals had agreed to a trade, set to be announced Monday, in which Milwaukee would land Zack Greinke for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress.  Yuniesky Betancourt and cash would also go to Milwaukee.

Soon afterwards an OnMilwaukee.com staff writer followed suit, reporting the same deal without Betancourt’s name and with Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi joining the other three youngsters in being Kansas City bound.

The big names have been quiet all along.  Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney, Jon Heyman and the rest have all failed to weigh in on the reports.  The Journal-Sentinel’s primary Brewers writers Tom Haudricourt did work on the rumor and failed to confirm or deny anything from Milwaukee or Kansas City sources.

So that’s where we are as of 3 am.   I figured the first report was bogus and I’m still leaning that way, but that no one has stepped forward to deny the rumor has given it traction.  The Brewers have been mentioned in connection with Greinke, and it does seem like the kind of package Kansas City would want in return.  Escobar is the long-term answer at shortstop they crave, Cain would be the odds-on favorite to start for the team in center field and Jeffress, while risky, has big-time potential out of the pen.  Odorizzi, a potential third starter, would be another nice piece.

But for now, it looks like we won’t find out whether there’s any truth to this until the morning at least.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.