Getty Ryan Dempster

In Dempster for Delgado, the Braves are going all-in for this year

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At the moment, Ryan Dempster stands a much better opportunity to help the Braves catch the Nationals or, at the very least, make the playoffs than does Randall Delgado.  Over the next five years — the time which the Cubs will control Delgado — they will almost certainly reap more value from him than Atlanta will reap from Dempster. Such is the way of trade deadline deals.

The Braves needed the rotation help now. They have the 14th best rotation in a 16 team league. Dempster has been one of the best starters in baseball this year. No, he’s not as good as his numbers in the first half indicate — no one is — but he should prove to be a far more reliable rotation presence for Atlanta between now and September.

In Delgado, the Cubs got exactly what they need: young talent.  While his season has been lackluster so far, he’s just 22 and what is acceptable for a bad team in rebuilding mode is totally different than what is acceptable for a playoff contender.  A few rough months in the bigs does not change the fact that Delgado has a bright future. Maybe not as a top-of-the-order ace, but certainly as a solid major league starter.

There have been some suggestions on Twitter today that the Braves think they have a chance to sign Dempster after the season is over and that he may be amenable. That’s noise at the moment and irrelevant noise at that. The Braves traded for him knowing that they only have the next 2+ months of Dempster guaranteed and that, if they make the playoffs with his help, the trade will have been worth it in the short term. Besides, signing Dempster to an extension following what is likely a late, mildly unexpected uptick in his performance may be a bad thing anyway and make the long term repercussions of this deal worse.

No matter what happens with Dempster, however, the Cubs can be happy with the return: a solid, young starting pitching prospect who may very well be — to use an over-used phrase — an important part of the next great Cubs team.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.