MLB Notes: Cubs acquire Jose Quintana in blockbuster trade with White Sox

MLB Notes: Cubs acquire Jose Quintana in blockbuster trade with White Sox

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs found the pitching help they were looking for just a few miles from Wrigley Field. They hope it will give the scuffling team the kick it needs.

The defending World Series champions acquired left-handed ace Jose Quintana from the White Sox on Thursday in a major trade between crosstown rivals that could shake up the NL Central race.

By landing the 2016 All-Star, the Cubs made it clear they're not giving up on a difficult season after arriving at the break two games under .500. They also added a pitcher who figures to be a key piece in the rotation for at least the next few years.

"We had a bad first half," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We did. We own that. We know we can do better."

The Cubs trail Milwaukee by 5 1/2 games in the division at 43-45 after ending a 108-year championship drought last fall. They believe they are set up to contend for years to come with stars such as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

By trading for Quintana, they brought in an elite starter who is under club control through 2020. They had to give up two top prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease along with minor league infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.

Quintana has pitched better lately after a slow start and is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts this season. He won a career-high 13 games last season with a personal-best 3.20 ERA while making his first All-Star team and is 50-54 with a 3.51 ERA since debuting with the White Sox in 2012. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said letting him go was a difficult choice for the rebuilding team.

"He's a true professional who had to deal with everything from poor run support to the bullpen occasionally letting him down, the defense letting him down," Hahn said. "He certainly never complained, never threw his arms up in the air, never rolled his eyes, never expressed any displeasure with his teammates. Instead, he was always supportive and continued to go about his business and set a wonderful example for the other young players in our clubhouse" (see full story).

Dodgers: Streaking team enters 2nd half on pace for 100 wins
LOS ANGELES -- The century mark is in sight for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the second half of the season.

Their 61-29 record leads the majors for the first time since 2009. Their plus-163 run differential is the best in National League history at the break, according to STATS LLC. They own a 7 -game lead over second-place Arizona in the NL West.

The last time the Dodgers reached 100 wins was in 1974 when they were 102-60 under manager Walter Alston. They lost the World Series to Oakland.

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Dodgers open the second half Friday with three games at Miami, followed by an interleague series in Chicago against the White Sox. Brandon McCarthy (6-3) takes the mound in the opener against the Marlins in his second start since coming off the disabled list.

Los Angeles is a major league-best 26-4 since June 7.

"How long is it a hot streak or this is just us?" ace Clayton Kershaw said. "I guess we'll find out."

After going a major league-best 39-11 at home -- winning 18 of their last 19 -- in the first half, the Dodgers play 40 of their remaining 71 games on the road. They'll face the next-to-last Padres and last-place Giants a combined 18 times.

"We are just really good at being in the moment right now. We're not worrying about what happened yesterday or worrying about what's in front of us," said third baseman Justin Turner, one of the team's six All-Stars (see full story).

Yankees: First baseman Cooper acquired from Brewers
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have added to their already overcrowded first base carousel.

The Yankees acquired minor league first baseman Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb on Thursday, providing more depth at a position that has been played by 10 players this season.

The 26-year-old Cooper batted .366 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs with Triple-A Colorado Springs, which has one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the minors. Cooper has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

New York entered the season planning to use Greg Bird at first, but injuries have hampered the 24-year-old for a second straight year. Chris Carter leads the team with 48 starts at the position, but he was twice designated for assignment before being released earlier this month. Matt Holliday, Austin Romine, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin and Ji-Man Choi have also started at first, and Chase Headley, Gary Sanchez and pitcher Bryan Mitchell have appeared there, too.

Choi, a left-handed hitter from South Korea, has had the most time there recently, and the right-handed hitting Cooper could give New York a workable platoon if no other deals materialize before the non-waiver trade deadline. New York trails the Boston Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the American League East.

Milwaukee said it hasn't determined whether Webb will be assigned to the minors or join the big league team. He had a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances this season with the Yankees without recording a decision. He made his big league debut on June 24 after going 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 21 games at Triple-A. He turns 27 next week.

Webb could eventually join a bullpen that has been inconsistent at times except for All-Star closer Corey Knebel.

The Brewers are the surprise leader in the National League Central at the All-Star break, leading the Cubs and Cardinals each by 5 1/2 games (see full story).

It turns out Jeopardy host Alex Trebek isn't the biggest fan of the Phanatic

It turns out Jeopardy host Alex Trebek isn't the biggest fan of the Phanatic

Jeopardy has been home to some great moments regarding Philadelphia sports in the past.

 I wish this was another one of these moments ... but it's not.

 It turns out, the show's host host Alex Trebek isn't a big fan of the Phillie Phanatic ... I know, I'm hurt too.

 The Phillies are in disbelief, we all are.
 Of course, fans had quite the reaction to the video that surfaced on social media. After all, the Phanatic is the best mascot in all of sports (totally unbiased, of course).


I don't even want to know what he thinks about Gritty.

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Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Right around the time the Washington Nationals were clinching their World Series berth this week, a guy who left that team to come play in Philadelphia posted a cute photo to his Instagram story with his baby son. It included the caption, "cuddle time is the best time."

I made light of the juxtaposition of that photo with what Nationals players were currently doing in a tongue-in-cheek tweet, but it's hard not to think about Bryce Harper during this Nationals run.

We know exactly how Nationals fans down in DC feel about their former favorite slugger who departed DC for big time bucks. They won't stop telling us.

But what was Harper feeling? Thanks to a one-on-one interview Harper did with Jayson Stark of the Athletic, we now have a glimpse into Harper's mind during this unique time.

Stark says Harper was effusive in his praise of the city of Philadelphia during their chat. And the majority of Harper's answers are very savvy in a public relations sense. Harper is good at saying what you think he's supposed to say. But it doesn't come off as disingenuous.

Stark asked Harper if he was feeling any jealousy watching his old pals spray champagne in the locker room and his answer comes off as pretty honest. From the Athletic ($):

“No,” he said again, without a millisecond’s hesitation, “because like I said, I made my decision, and that was my decision. And it was the final decision that I made. You know, jealousy isn’t good. For me, it’s about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else.

“I think it’s about being able to be the person that I am,” he went on, “and not saying to myself, `Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m not a National.’ Or, `Oh my gosh, those guys are doing what they’re doing. I can’t believe it. I’m so jealous.’ No. I’m so happy for them. You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it’s an amazing thing.”

There's plenty more to the piece worth diving into. Stark also spoke with former National/Phillie Jayson Werth, who knows a thing or two about both cities/clubs and also what it's like to play alongside Harper.

The Nationals' opponent in the World Series is yet to be set, but whether it's the Nationals, New York Yankees or Houston Astros who are spraying champagne at the end of it, you won't see Harper doing that. Unless he and his little baby pop up in his Instagram stories getting wacky.

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