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.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.