NL Central

I'm using the MLB depth charts, the Bill James projections for wOBA on Fangraphs and their 2012 playing age along with a few assumptions like Dusty isn't going to play Devin Mesoraco or Chris Heisey over veterans. Let's see how the NL Central offenses stack up. Obviously the actual order of lineups and players may vary, and there's no accounting for expected playing time due to injuries or sucktitude.

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired former Cub super-utility Greek God Mark DeRosa for RHP Chris Perez and a player to be named later.

I wonder how many standing ovations he'll get from the Wrigley faithful before they realize they're cheering for the Cubs most bitter rival to beat them.

Not much going on in Cubsland, but the Reds are done putting the finishing touches on their 2009 World Series team. Today, they added Cubs scraps Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward on minor league deals. They'll join Arthur Rhodes's neck, Willy Taveras at the top of the lineup (snicker) and Ramon Hernandez. This was the plan to overcome a 280 run difference and 23 games.

As for the Brewers, Ben Sheets is going to have surgery on a partially torn flexor tendon that will keep him out 4-6 months. Why don't we just just go ahead and count out 2009 in its entirety? The Brewers were counting on two draft picks from a team signing Sheets and already got screwed on a first round pick when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, which forced the Brewers to take the Yanks second round pick for signing Sabathia.  I'm not sure of the rules on free agent compensation if Sheets doesn't sign until mid-season or possibly next offseason (but I'm sure Arizona Phil does). They also recently announced they were done for the offseason and perfectly content with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and whomever else they can pull out of line from a brewery tour.

The Astros big moves were to add Jason Michaels, Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton and cut ties with one of their better hitters from last year - Ty Wigginton. Ed Wade, you're a sly one.

The Pirates added...fuck, who cares....

The Cardinals added some relievers and Khalil Greene. Troy Glaus is likely to miss some part of the beginning of the season after shoulder surgery in January. If Chris Carpenter is healthy and back to form, well they could be interesting. They were a pretty good offense last year, added Greene to it and tried to address some bullpen woes. Carpenter would only make them better, but his health is one helluva of an if. 

So while many lament about the Cubs taking a few steps back this offseason or just treading water; (I'm in the treading water camp and when you won 97 games, that's perfectly acceptable. Also, after all these years of online chatting, I often find myself wanting to invoke parenthesis in the middle of an actual conversation with a live human being. But I fear they don't share my same addiction to chatting with anonymous online people...plus drawing parenthesis with my hands in the air looks weird) the rest of the NL Central seems to have accepted the Cubs as their dark overlords.

Also, our twitter page that I mentioned yesterday should now get automatically updated with the title of the post and a link back to the story. I also moved and added some things to the menu bar up top, should hopefully make things a little easier to find. TCR Junk Drawer is gone and has been replaced by Wiklifield and Arizona Phil's Corner. If anyone has a better name than "TCR Social" for links to our RSS info, facebook and twitter pages, I'm all ears. Finally, with the addition of an RSS feed to comments, you can now read comments from our mobile site. I'm hoping for a more functional mobile site by the end of the year, but at least it's something.

Out of the corner of my eye last night, the one corner that wasn't marveling at how grotesquely obese Prince Fielder has become, I noticed what was happening to a couple of our National League Central friends:

The Cardinals, who were officially eliminated from the division race last night, were continuing to get their brains beaten in (six straight losses, five straight road losses, and 10 road losses in their last 11 tries), and the Astros were continuing to not hit (a 5-1 loss at Florida, which means Houston has scored two runs in three games).

Most everyone agrees that the Cards overachieved all season long and that they haven't been viable contenders for quite a while. However, if LaRussa & Co. had any flickering hopes, the Cubs went a very long way toward snuffing them out with their series win in St. Louis last week.

As for the Astros...

Tags: 

Dan Fox offers a historical perspective on the Brewers' firing of Ned Yost while in the thick of the race for the post-season.

Turns out the 1932 Cubs were the first team to change managers mid-season (Rogers Hornsby out; Charlie Grimm in) and then go on to win the pennant. The 1938 Cubs repeated the maneuver (Grimm out; Gabby Hartnett in) and again, the result was a National League championship.

Cub-related names are all over this phenomenon:

Rich Harden's brilliant effort Tuesday night followed yet another complete-game win for the second-place Brewers' C.C. Sabathia the evening before.

Through last night's play, here is what Harden and Sabathia have done for their NL Central teams, alongside the contribution of another mid-season acquisition, who, once upon a time, made a huge impact when he joined the Cubs from the American League:

  GS CG IP
H
K
 BB ERA
 W L
C.C. Sabathia 9 5 73 60 69 15 1.60 8 0
Rich Harden 7 0 42 26 59 14 1.50 3 1
Rick Sutcliffe (thru 8/19/84) 13 1 94 87 93 32 3.26 11 1

 

(Note: Sabathia's first start for the Brewers was on July 8, Harden's Cub debut was on July 12, and Sutcliffe's first game for the Cubs was on June 19, 1984.

Thoughts after the jump...

Milwaukee acquired second baseman Ray Durham from the Giants on Sunday in exchange for Class A outfielder Darren Ford and Triple-A pitcher Steve Hammond. The two teams waited to officially announce the deal until after they had played one another Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, per the request of Durham, who didn't want to make his Milwaukee debut versus his former mates.

"Personally it was out of respect for the guys in this locker room,"
Durham said, saying his goodbyes in the Giants' clubhouse. "It really
was a stipulation I asked for."

The 36-year-old Durham, hitting .293 AVG / .385 OBP / .414 SLG / 799 OPS could complement and/or replace 25-year-old Rickie Weeks, who is hitting just .218 in 79 games for the Brewers this season with an OPS+ of 82.

Closer to home, Paul Sullivan makes it sound like the Cubs are inching closer to putting Kerry Wood on the DL for the 12th time in his career, owing to ongoing problems with that blister on his right index finger. Sullivan quotes Lou Piniella as saying:

"We're coming to the point where we're going to have to come to a conclusion about what to do."

If the Cubs were to backdate the DL decision to July 12th, Wood would be eligible to get back on the field next Sunday, when the Cubs wrap up their four-game series against the Marlins at Wrigley Field. According to Sullivan, Carlos Marmol will get to wear the closer's hat so long as Wood is unable to pitch. Marmol pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Cubs' 9-0 shutout of Houston on Sunday.

 

The Brewers look poised to get Indians south-paw C.C. Sabathia for the low, low cost of Matt LaPorta (whom the Cubs skipped over in the 2007 draft in favor of Josh Vitters), pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson and a fourth player, that could end up being third basemen Taylor Green. Only one of those players was among the top ten Brewers prospects to start the season, according to Baseball America.

Adding Sabathia to the Brewers along with Prince Fielder means they're a lock to win a sumo wrestling match, the NL Central remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, an impressive shot across the bow by the Brewers and one that will undoubtedly be answered by the Cubs...we hope.

 

Braves rookie Jair Jurrjens, who was scheduled to start tonight's game at Wrigley against Ryan Dempster and the Cubs, slipped on a dugout step following last night's game and twisted his right ankle. Jurrjens may be headed to the DL, where he would join fellow Bravos Smoltz, Glavine, and Hampton; Jurrjens definitely won't start tonight. Instead Jeff Bennett (0-3. 3.47) will get the nod.

The Cubs get more than enough sentences around here, so here's a look at our divisional brothers:

  • Despite all of their pitching injuries, a shaky closer, and having Cesar Izturis in the lineup most days, the Cards continue to soldier on.
  • Only two NL teams have worse records over the past ten games than the 3-7 Cubs, and the Brewers, with four-homer-hittin', veggie-burger-eatin' Prince Fielder, are one of them.
  • With all of the Reds' young talent, plus Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce waiting in the wings, only a numbskull could get in the way of their becoming a very dangerous team, very soon.
  • That bargain Nate McLouth apparently struck with the devil continues to pay handsome dividends.
  • Sorry, but regardless of Kaz Matsui's contributions to the Astros' recent hot string, I cannot read or hear his name without immediately thinking of the term "anal fissure."

As for Felix Pie, Paul Sullivan writes/reports/spectulates? in the Tribune that one of the possible "changes" Lou Piniella has recently referred to could be the demotion of Felix Pie to Iowa, with Andres Torres--on a 23-game hitting streak for the I-Cubs that has lifted his average to .352--coming to Wrigley Field. Rogers points out that Pie is hitting .061 (2-for-33 with 22 K's) when the count against him gets to two strikes.

This is semi-ancient baseball history, but for those of us who haven't thought a whole lot about Cincinnati Reds play-by-play man Marty Brennaman until the last 48 hours or so, we can enjoy this as if it were fresh and new.

In late April, 1988, the Reds were hosting the New York Mets in old Riverfront Stadium. Umpire Dave Pallone, who had a long history of conflict with the Reds in general and Cincy manager Pete Rose in particular, was working first base. In the bottom of the third inning, Rose and Pallone got into a chest-to-chest confrontation over a disputed play on the bases. Rose and Pallone got their fingers in each other's faces, Pallone told Rose, "Get your fucking finger out of my face," Rose shoved Pallone with his forearm and then, after Pallone had given Rose the official heave-ho and turned to walk away, Rose shoved Pallone a second time, in the back.

Here's where Marty enters the story.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dusty Baker may juggle the Red Legs' pitching rotation heading into next week's visit to Wrigley Field.

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