While other NL contenders beefed up for the playoffs, the Atlanta Braves seemed to keep missing out on players who could’ve boosted their hopes.
Turns out, they landed the guy they wanted all along.
Atlanta acquired speedy outfielder Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros on Sunday in a five-player deal before the non-waiver trade deadline, giving the Braves their first true leadoff hitter in at least six years.
The Astros received outfielder Jordan Schafer and three minor league pitchers, but the Braves didn’t give up any of their top pitching prospects.
“We haven’t had that kind of threat in the top of our lineup in a long time,” said third baseman Chipper Jones, one of the numerous Braves slowed by injuries.
Bourn is hitting .303 and leads the majors with 39 stolen bases. He goes from the last-place Astros to a playoff-contending team that has one of baseball’s best pitching staffs, but was downright desperate for offensive help because of various ailments and lackluster performances.
FURCAL JOINS CARDS
The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired shortstop Rafael Furcal from the Los Angeles Dodgers for a minor league prospect, fortifying their infield.
St. Louis sent outfielder Alex Castellanos, who was playing at Double-A Springfield, to the Dodgers.
The 33-year-old Furcal, a two-time All-Star, is batting .197 in 37 games while struggling with injuries this season. But the Cardinals noted he had three multi-hit games the last week.
Furcal was held out of the lineup Saturday and cleaned out his locker, although the team made no announcement then.
Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot had been in a 2-for-38 slump earlier in the week before getting four hits on Saturday, while starting at second base against the Cubs.
The Cardinals also got Theriot from the Dodgers, acquiring him during the offseason.
General manager John Mozeliak said Furcal would add veteran experience for the NL Central race. The Cardinals were 11/2 games behind the Brewers. Furcal has a career batting average of .283 with 298 stolen bases and has been considered one of the better leadoff hitters in the game.
LUDWICK JOINS BUCS
The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named or cash.
Ludwick batted .238 with a team-leading 11 home runs and 64 RBI in 378 at-bats this season. He was acquired by San Diego from the St. Louis Cardinals at the non-waiver trading deadline last year in a three-team deal that included the Cleveland Indians.
“I’m excited because I’ve got another chance to make the playoffs, going to a team that’s in the pennant race, back in the Central to an area I’m familiar with,” Ludwick said. “It’s just sad things didn’t work out here.”
The Pirates are one of the feel-good stories in baseball this season, but were just swept by Philadelphia. Ludwick was the second big bat added in two days, after Pittsburgh acquired Derrek Lee from Baltimore on Saturday.
ADVICE FOR MCCOURT
Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff called upon Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers, becoming the first Major League Baseball owner to publicly urge McCourt to give up his fight to keep the team.
Wolff also said he thinks owners are united behind commissioner Bud Selig, whose authority McCourt has challenged in Bankruptcy Court.
Wolff, who lives in Los Angeles, said he decided to speak out after attorneys for the Dodgers’ owner argued in a divorce court filing that whatever money McCourt might have taken out of the Dodgers was exceeded by the money Selig took out of MLB.
“For anyone to seek to diminish Bud’s accomplishments in order to rationalize their own actions is, in my opinion, ludicrous and hugely disingenuous,” Wolff said.
Lance Berkman was back in the Cardinals’ lineup after missing four games with a sore right shoulder. Berkman was hitting .286 with a league-leading 27 homers and 69 RBI. … The Twins activated outfielder Denard Span from the 15-day disabled list. He had been on the DL since June 9 because of a concussion. … The Orioles optioned right-hander Jason Berken to Triple-A Norfolk and recalled two left-handed pitchers from Double-A Bowie. … Royals right-hander Kyle Davies was scratched from his start against the Indians because of a sore right shoulder. Davies was replaced by left-hander Danny Duffy.