Still broke Dodgers gain little in Pierre deal

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The Dodgers did the disgruntled Juan Pierre a favor by shipping him off to the White Sox and giving him a chance to play regularly, but instead of getting the overpriced pitcher they were looking for in return, the team settled for two modest prospects in right-handers John Ely and Jon Link and ate some salary.
So, now the Dodgers have opened up one more need and saved just $3 million for 2010. That there’s also $5 million of relief coming in 2011 makes it a fine big-picture move.
It’s just that Pierre was probably worth more than $3 million to the 2010 team.
Since the Dodgers have other needs and limited funds, they’ll probably stay in house in finding a replacement for Pierre. Xavier Paul and Jason Repko are both on the 40-man roster and it’s possible that both will make the team unless some minor league veterans are brought in.
The left-handed-hitting Paul missed most of last season, but he hit .328/.378/.500 in 116 at-bats for Triple-A Albuquerque when healthy. While he is a below average center fielder, he’s still playable there. Repko is better suited to being a fifth outfielder. He’s injury-prone and he strikes out a lot, but he’s a legitimate center fielder with pretty good speed, and as a right-handed hitter, he’d complement Paul.
Neither is an ideal solution, but it’d still make more sense for the Dodgers to put the $3 million towards an upgrade at second base rather than target a Randy Winn or a Scott Podsednik. That way, they’d still have the option of going to Blake DeWitt at third and Casey Blake in an outfield corner in the event of a major injury to Manny Ramirez or Andre Ethier. DeWitt currently tops the depth chart at second base, but his glove plays much better at the hot corner and the price tags for Felipe Lopez and Kelly Johnson should prove pretty reasonable.

Braves clinch NL East title

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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.