Beyond Busch – NL Central & MLB Notes


Each Saturday, Beyond Busch will take a look through the happenings from the previous week around the rest of Major League Baseball. We’ll begin each column with an extended update from each of the Cardinals’ NL Central foes. A notes section for each remaining MLB team will follow. Since this time of year it is light for news, I’ll revisit some offseason items for NL Central team. As the weeks pass during the pre-season, I’ll provide a preview for each team in this space. Once the season kicks off, the column will simply catch you up with news from the NL Central and around the rest of MLB.

Chicago Cubs

The biggest move the Cubs have made in the offseason is the reorganization of the front office. Theo Epstein has taken over the reigns and his first move was to fire Mike Quade. He then hired Dale Sveum to manage the team. Epstein has not been shy to let everyone know he is rebuilding the Cubs and he is doing it via free agency and the trade market this offseason. He let Aramis Ramirez walk, but offered him arbitration, meaning the Cubs will be compensated for his departure. In late November, he signed outfielder David DeJesus. Tyler Colvin was traded in a four player deal which landed third baseman Ian Stewart from the Colorado Rockies. They traded Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds for Travis Wood. He traded away Carlos Zambrano but is paying most of his albatross salary to the Miami Marlins for starter Chris Volstad. Then he moved talented pitching prospect Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres for first baseman prospect Anthony Rizzo. They re-signed veteran reliever Kerry Woods and signed Andy Sonnanstine and Paul Maholm as free-agents. It’s been a very active offseason for the Cubs and it there should more moves next offseason.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds were also very active. They traded first base prospect Yonder Alonso for San Diego padres starting pitcher Mat Latos. They inked Ryan Madson to a one year deal worth $8.5 million. They also added a quality set-up man in Sean Marshall, acquired from the Cubs. For more depth in the bullpen they signed Jose Arrendondo to a 2 year deal. The Reds also gave Ryan Ludwick a one year deal and he’s expected to split time in left field. They certainly strengthened a team which was talented to begin with.

Houston Astros

Hired St. Louis Cardinals’ Vice President Jeff Luhnow to become general manager and he has spent much of his time retooling the front office. The Astros will have the first pick in the 2012 amauter draft. They have 3 players in the top 100 prospects list. The biggest news of the offseason for the Astros is this will be their last season in the NL Central as the team will be moving to the American League West for 2013. The move balances each league with 3 five team divisions. They traded closer Mark Melancon to the Boston Red Sox for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland. Should be a another year of low expectations for the Astros.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers never had a chance of signing Prince Fielder. He is now playing for the Detroit Tigers after signing a nine-year/$214 million contract earlier this week. With Fielder gone and fellow basher Ryan Braun facing a possible suspension for performance enhancing drugs the Brewers could be in trouble right out of the gate in 2012. They hope that free-agent signing of third baseman Aramis Ramirez will help offset the lost production from Fielder’s departure. They also signed Norichika Aoki, a former Japanese League player to a two year contract as a little insurance for Braun.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates surprised most of the league last year by hanging in the race into late July which is saying something for a team that has now suffered 19 straight losing seasons. They once again have more on the horizon than they seem to have on the MLB roster. They went out and signed Rod Barajas to be their catcher and Clint Barmes to play short. They’re taking a risk, albeit small in compensation, on Erik Bedard which could pay dividends if he is healthy and returns to the form of his Seattle Mariner days. They also brought back Nate McLouth to round out their outfield led by Andrew McCutchen, their only true superstar. As I mentioned the future is bright with four players among the recent top 100 prospects, with two in the top eleven.

NL East

Atlanta Braves – standing pat

Miami Marlins – Seemingly signed everyone, couldn’t reel in big fish

New York MetsFrank Francisco, enough said

Philadelphia PhilliesJimmy Rollins gets extension, Cole Hamels free agent in ’13

Washington Nationals – always “in” on this FA or that FA, but Gio Gonzalez comes via trade

NL West

Arizona Diamonbacks – Get Trevor Cahill via trade and have 3 of top 21 pitchers in prospect listing

Colorado Rockies – Busy, land Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro fills need

Los Angeles Dodgers – Cash strapped and still keeping Matt Kemp is quite a feat

San Diego PadresYonder Alonso leads group of six players in top 100 prospects list

San Francisco Giants – Able to sign Tim Lincecum for two years, can they keep Matt Cain?

AL East

Baltimore Orioles – On the outside looking in, Buck must be pulling hair out

Boston Red Sox – Bobby Valentine is looking for a mustache dealer

New York Yankees – Finally trade Jesus Montero

Tampa Bay RaysCarlos Pena is back, looking for full season of Matt Moore

Toronto Blue Jays – Get Sergio Santos in deal, add Francisco Cordero to pen

AL Central

Chicago White Sox – Robin Ventura replaces Ozzie Guillen, two peas in a pod, not really

Cleveland Indians – Hello my name is Roberto, oh crap, I mean Fausto

Detroit Tigers – Fresh Prince of Detroit

Kansas City Royals – Add two Jonathans, both with something to prove

Minnesota TwinsJoel Zumaya claims he’ll hit 100 mph again…in his car

AL West

Los Angeles Angels – Top hitter and arguably the top pitcher on market now theirs

Oakland A’s – Will Billy Beane order a re-write?

Seattle Mariners – Will Montero’s power translate in Safeco?

Texas Rangers – Is Yu Darvish enough to offset Angels’ moves?

Click the link to each team to view coverage of the team. For general baseball news and commentary visit Call to the Pen and for minor league baseball coverage visit Seedlings to Stars. You can ‘Like’ Redbird Rants on Facebook here. You can follow Redbird Rants on Twitter at @FSRedbirdRants and Christopher Carelli on Twitter at @BaseballStance.