Cardinals offer arbitration to Holliday, Pineiro, and DeRosa

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St. Louis has offered arbitration to Matt Holliday, Joel Pineiro, and Mark DeRosa while passing on Troy Glaus. Obviously the Holliday decision was a no-brainer, but there was quite a bit of speculation that the Cardinals might pass on offers to Pineiro or DeRosa.
Both players are Type B free agents and the Cardinals wanted to secure draft picks if they sign elsewhere, but the risk is that Pineiro and DeRosa may simply accept one-year deals via arbitration. Of course, that’s hardly a bad thing. And it’s not very likely, either.
Pineiro is coming off a career-year, thriving under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan while going 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 214 innings. His minuscule strikeout rate and spotty track record make a regression likely for 2010, but the Cardinals should be happy to welcome him back for a one-year commitment and odds are that at least a few teams will offer him multi-year deals.
DeRosa may have a harder time finding a multi-year contract because he struggled through a wrist injury while batting just .250/.319/.433 in 139 games and turns 35 years old soon. Still, he seems likely to get a two-year deal somewhere and if not retaining him for a one-year commitment would hardly be disastrous for St. Louis. In fact, generally speaking teams are far too risk-averse when it comes to offering arbitration to solid veterans.
Unless there are some significant payroll limitations in place and the player accepting arbitration would throw the entire offseason plan out of whack, the possibility that a solid veteran will accept a one-year deal is often a positive thing. When the Cardinals acquired DeRosa from the Indians at midseason they’d surely have jumped at the chance to lock him up for 2010 at a reasonable price, and that’s exactly what the “downside” to offering him arbitration entails.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.