Padres acquire Carlos Quentin from the White Sox

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Huh, and you probably thought New Years Eve day was going to be pretty boring for baseball news. Not so.

The Padres just announced that they have acquired outfielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox for prospect right-hander Simon Castro and prospect left-hander Pedro Hernandez.

Quentin, a San Diego native, will be reunited with Josh Byrnes, who traded him to the White Sox for Chris Carter in December of 2007 when he was general manager of the Diamondbacks.

Quentin, 29, earned $5.05 million this season while batting .254/.340/.499 with 24 home runs, 77 RBI and an .838 OPS over 483 plate appearances. He is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. While he’ll give a boost to the punchless Padres’ lineup, he’s leaving behind the best ballpark for right-handed power for one that’s in the middle of the pack. He’s also a liability defensively in a pretty big outfield.

As for the White Sox, I guess we can say the rebuilding effort is back on. Castro, 23, was hyped as a top prospect in the Padres’ organization last winter, but posted a disappointing 5.63 ERA and 94/34 K/BB ratio over 115 innings this past season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. Hernandez, 22, posted a 3.49 ERA and a quality 94/22 K/BB ratio over 116 innings in 2011 between High-A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. For what it’s worth, Baseball America did not include either of them among the Padres’ top 10 prospects earlier this month. That being said, they should rank much higher in the depleted White Sox system. And with Quentin gone, Dayan Viciedo should finally get a chance to play everyday.

It’s sort of a head-scratcher for the Padres in that they aren’t expected to contend this season, but they had the excess pitching depth in the minors to make this deal without hurting them in the long-term. Of course, there’s always the chance they can use Quentin as a trade chip around the deadline.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.