Two days ago I posted my NL East Trade Deadline Analysis, as I took a look at how the teams in that division either got better or worse. Today we will take a look at the NL Central. There is technically a four team race for the NL Central crown but i feel we can realistically count out the Pirates and Reds as the Reds have been far too inconsistent and the Pirates are starting to putter out. 3 of those for teams made somewhat important moves and one sat quietly. The Cubs and the Astros are looking to rebuild but only one team has committed to a full rebuilding project. So let’s dive right in and analyze these deadline moves by the NL Central.
Pittsburgh- Acquired 1B- Derrek Lee from Baltimore for 1B- Aaron Baker
- Acquired OF- Ryan Ludwick from San Diego for A Player to be Named Later
The Pirates are a fringe contender in the NL Central, they obviously realized this and made moves that improve the club without giving up top prospects. Neither player is going to push the Pirates to the post season but they still may be able to keep them over .500 for the first time in 18 years. Both players will likely only play on the Pirates for this season as they will be free agents next season, but the moves show to the players that Management believes in them. All in all these moves are more for PR rather than actually improving the club, as they are only marginal upgrades but are solid veterans who can boost morale.
I am a fan of Abner Abreu, and Carlton Smith may be a bullpen contributor in the near future so this is not a bad deal for the Cubs. Fukudome has never lived up to the hype that he received when he signed in 2008, his defense has eroded the past 2 seasons and his offensive numbers have probably been the worst of his career in 2011 so I am amazed the Cubs were able to get anybody interesting. The main complaint about the Cubs deadline is that they didn’t dump more of their overpaid under producing players and commit to a rebuild. Abner Abreu is an intriguing outfielder who has pop and speed with a strong arm in the outfield but lacks plate discipline, so he could be a hit or a miss type player. Carlton Smith is a very average reliever but has made it to AAA so an appearance at the Major League level either this year or next is not out of the question.
Houston- Acquired P-Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF- Jonathan Singleton, P- Josh Zied from Philadelphia for OF- Hunter Pence
Houston replenished their farm system by dealing their two best hitters, but many believe the Astros should have held out for more talented players. Cozart immediately becomes the Astros top pitching prospect, he is still a while away from the big leagues but he is above average to good in almost all aspects of his game. Singleton is another young player that is at the low level minors but has tremendous upside. He will hit for good average and power and has good plate discipline, and he instantly becomes the Astros top hitting prospect in my mind. Josh Zeid is a mediocre pitching prospect who is at the AA level but has struggled this year, if he makes the big leagues he will likely be a middle reliever. The return for Michael Bourn was a lot less exciting, especially if you look at the prospects Atlanta has. Jordan Schafer is the replacement for Bourn in center and he could be a serviceable one. He has great speed with some power, but lacks the ability to make consistent contact. He is still young and has room to improve so Schafer still has the potential to be a star but more likely he will be a solid major league starter. Brett Oberholtzer is a solid lefty pitching prospect with good command and good homerun suppression ability, just not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he will get his fair share. I am actually a fan of Oberholtzer and I think that he could be a solid middle of the rotation guy down the road. Paul Clemens is another decent prospect, but while his numbers look ok AA this year I’m just not a huge fan. He has decent strikeout ability but not as good of command as Oberholtzer or as good of a homerun suppression rate. He could be a back of the rotation starter or reliever down the road. Juan Abreu is one of those middle relievers who has great strikeout ability but lacks good command to be a starter. He has played well at AAA in 2011 so I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays an important role in the Astros 2012 bullpen. Overall they Astros have gotten some nice prospects but they should have been able to get better ones for the players they gave up.
St. Louis- Acquired P- Edwin Jackson, OF- Corey Patterson, P- Marc Rzepcynski, P- Octavio Dotel from Chicago White Sox and Toronto for OF- Colby Rasmus, P- Trever Miller, P- Brian Tallet, P- P.J. Walters
I think the Cardinals made the most surprising moves near the deadline. I had heard rumors that Rasmus was going to get shipped out of St. Louis but then they were always quickly denied. The Cardinals gave up on a very talented CF but acquired a well traveled but effective starter who should help them make a post-season push. The rest of the players are pretty good as well, Corey Patterson can still be a solid 4th outfielder and Rzepcynski and Dotel should both be solid middle relievers for the Cardnials. I was not crazy about the Rafael Furcal trade, he really has been bad this year, but the benefit is having another veteran starter for the stretch run i guess. The problem is his bat has been abysmal, he is injury prone and he is only playing average defense at best this year. All in all the Cardinals did make a big splash bringing in (can i call him a journey man at 27?) Edwin Jackson along with some smaller pieces and it should be a close battle for the NL Central crown.
This trade really has no impact on the season or down the road besides the fact the Reds were smart enough to get rid of Gomes. Rhinehart seems like he will be a Quad A type player or at best a 4<sup>th</sup> outfield type. Manno is a young reliever sitting at High A who has good strikeout ability but is mediocre besides that. He is too young right now for me to make a prediction of what he might do at the majors because he could still not make it. Surprisingly the Reds got something for Gomes but again this trade really does nothing for the Reds.
Overall Summary- If you noticed I did not include the Francisco Rodriguez trade because it did not happen as close to the deadline. The Cardinals and Astros made the biggest moves of the deadline, but for very different reasons and the Pirates made 2 smaller moves. The Cubs and Reds did the least and both needed to do more. Overall I think the Cardinals are the winners of the Central at the deadline but I’m not sure they have enough to beat the Brewers for the division.