Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Effect of K-Rod on the NL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers made a big splash last night by landing Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod, Frankie). The deal is a salary dump for the Mets as they were trying to avoid his 55 games finished-vesting option of $17.5 million. The Mets sent $5 million along with Frankie for two players to be named later. K-Rod is not the elite closer he was a few years ago, but he will fill a huge hole as the setup man in Milwaukee. With this deal occurring three weeks before the trade deadline, we could see some teams push hard for trades in the next few days. Other teams in the NL Central, particularly the Cardinals, will need to make a move to keep up with the Brew Crew.

Here are what the other contenders in the NL Central should look to do:
  • The Cardinals are in need of pitching, both in the pen and in the rotation. They will look at Heath Bell, but the Padres asking price might be too heavy. The Cardinals could also add a starting pitcher and move Kyle McClellan to the bullpen.
  • The Pirates must decide if they are buyers or sellers. Since this team is 4 games over .500 and hasn't had a winning season in nearly 20 years, I would be shocked if they were to trade anybody away. I could see the Pirates picking up a bat to stay in the race. Somebody like Adam Lind of Toronto makes sense.
  • The Reds need help in their rotation. After sending Volquez to AAA, the Reds brought up Dontrelle Willis, but the D-Train can only take them so far. Look for the Reds to make a run at Aaron Harang or even Chris Capuano of the Mets.
The NL Central is a four team race right now, as Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh all are capable of winning the division. The Reds are just four games back, but they will definitely need to play better to win the division. The Brewers have the best team in the NL Central without a question, but will their rotation stay healthy and keep producing? The Cardinals are in an interesting position because they have under-performing talent they could trade away for pieces, but they also have players such as Lance Berkman, who are having career years at an old age. Pujols' return could jump start this team, pushing the Brewers to make another move. The Pirates are the story of the first half of the season so far, but nobody expects them to keep it up; however the pitching has been a lot better this season and led by CF Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates could make some more noise. With the addition of a bullpen arm or a power bat, the Pirates have the ability to win the Central.

This division will come down to the wire and should be a lot of fun to follow, so stay tuned for more on the closest division in baseball.

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