Because it's a New York thang, the Wily Mo Pena deal is getting more press today, but the Braves-Cardinals trade that went down yesterday may have a greater impact on actual major league baseball games:
The St. Louis Cardinals got help for a needy bullpen on Monday, acquiring right-hander Blaine Boyer from the Atlanta Braves for minor league outfielder Brian Barton . . . Boyer was 0-1 with a 40.50 ERA in three games, allowing six runs in 1 1-3 innings. He appeared in a career-high 76 games last year with Atlanta while also setting highs in innings (72) and strikeouts (67) . . . The Cardinals acquired the 26-year-old Barton in the Rule 5 Draft in 2007. He batted .268 with two home runs and 13 RBIs last year as a rookie and was hitting .107 with one RBI at Triple-A Memphis.
This is a classic Braves trade in that they're acquiring a guy who has played far better against them than he has overall: 4-for-5 with a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored in a three-game series against Atlanta last year. Still, a good trade for the Braves as they parlay Boyer -- who was designated for assignment and surprisingly (to me at least) not claimed by anyone on waivers -- into a useful outfielder. Is Barton a star in the making? Nah, but the Braves don't need a star, they just need some versatile depth given that (a) Garret Anderson has a giant fork sticking out of his back; and (b) rookie Jordan Schafer could flatline at any moment.
As for Boyer, some insight as to why the Braves gave up on him can be found in this Mark Bowman blog post which makes reference to his alleged "mental shortcomings." I think that's something less than saying he's dumb or unfocused, as anyone who has followed the Braves for any length of time will recall those kinds of terms being applied to any number of relief pitchers who have gotten on Bobby Cox's nerves.
Boyer is certainly more talented than the awful line he put up in limited play this year, and though La Russa's bullpen management drives me nuts as a fan, if anyone is going to optimize a guy like Boyer, it's him.
UPDATE: As about a dozen people have noted, Boyer didn't need to clear waivers because, um, he was never placed on waivers. When someone is DFA'd, the club has ten days to release, trade, or waive. The Braves traded him, the Cards took him and placed him on the roster, no muss-no fuss. And I even knew that, so why I wrote otherwise is something of a mystery. The lesson, and I am 100% right about this, is that I am always wrong.