Billy Wagner to retire after 2010

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Wagner Braves.jpgBilly Wagner told manager Bobby Cox that he intends to retire at the end of the season, reports Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Braves inked the 38-year-old southpaw to a one-year, $7 million contract over the winter. The deal includes a vesting option for 2011, something Wagner says the Braves simply “threw in.”

“I wanted a chance at 400, and that’s great,” Wagner said. “If it
happens this year, great, if not, then so be it. Just try to make this
one of those years to really enjoy and have a good time and maybe win a
championship along the way. Plus Bobby, he’s always meant a lot to me,
growing up. To play my final year and him being his final year – it was
the right timing.”

Wagner starts Friday’s action with 386 career saves — currently sixth all-time. Barring injury, he should be a lock for 400 saves, although it should be mentioned that he has only had two save chances in April, of which he is 1-for-2.

When looking at Wagner’s place in history, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better left-handed relief pitcher. Wagner boasts a 2.39 ERA and 1.01 WHIP during his 16-year career, averaging an eye-popping 11.8 K/9. I guess you could throw John Franco, Sparky Lyle, Jesse Orosco and former Tigers’ left-hander John Hiller in the discussion, but Wagner sits at the top of my ballot.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.