A six-part series that will cover every team in the majors, What You'll See at the Trading Deadline is a blog worked on by FanNation users Dudeman, Gu3, and thehemogoblin. This blog will be released Monday through Saturday, with each blog covering a certain division. Day five means it's NL Central time!
Friday, July 4th: NL Central
Saturday, July 5th: NL West
Dudeman's Take: The Chicago Cubs are the best team in the NL and should win the NL Pennant. They are the best balanced team in the majors, with pitching, hitting and a great coach in Lou Piniella. Ryan Dempster has been a great surprise for them, and Carlos Marmol is arguably the best reliever in the majors. They have threats in all parts of the lineup and don't have very many weaknesses. They have expressed interest in upgrading the 2nd base position, so they might make a bid for a 2nd baseman that can hit for average. Don't expect them to be very active at the trade deadline. Why try and fix something if it ain't broke?
Gu3's Take: The Chicago Cubs are probably the best team in the MLB. However, they have had problems with injuries that include a broken finger by Alfonso Soriano and an injured ace in Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs are one of the hardest teams to beat at home because of the harsh enviroment and good hitters. Once Soriano comes back, they will only have two weak position. With the outfield being Soriano, Edmonds, Fukudome. The infield being Ramirez, Derosa, Theroit, and Lee. And the catcher being Soto. The weak spots are at second and short with Theroit and Derosa. Now, the Cubs almost made a deal to get Brian Roberts from the Orioles in exchange for prospects. With the Orioles looking to sell high, they could be getting rid of Roberts. The Orioles could get something nice for the future, and the Cubs can get that needed glove, legs, and bat for the World Series run.
Hemo's Take: Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs squad has performed beautifully for the entirety of the 2008 season, and currently own the best record in baseball. The Cubbies are in need of one more starter and a consistent fourth outfielder now that Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano are both injured. The bullpen seems quite solid with Bobby Howry, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood, and the rest of the fielded team is solid as well. If the Cubs attempt a blockbuster, watch for them to try and get both Brian Roberts and George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles.
Dudeman's Take: The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of potential, with huge prospects like Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Edinson Volquez has been a great, reliable starter for them, but they aren't going to make a run at anything this season. The Reds have to continue to build towards the future, and so far they are moving in the right direction. I honestly believe this will be the year Jr. and Dunn are dealt for prospects. Both are nearing the end of their careers and it's the time for them to be traded for prospects that can be big parts of the Reds in the future. The Reds are a team to look out for in 4-5 years from now.
Gu3's Take: The Cincinnati Reds are a talent franchise that have alot of good pieces. Griffey, Dunn, Volquez, Phillips, Bruce, Cordero, and Fogg are all great players with tons of talent. They just cannot seem to pull anything together. They can deal alot of their old talent at this deadline. That includes Dunn and Griffey who can possibly be traded to contenders. (Yankees Maybe). They will get in return prospects that will hopefully be like the deal they got for Volquez.
Hemo's Take: The Cincinnati Reds, mopping up the bottom of baseball's biggest division, look to be one of the many dealers come July 31st. Fan favorite Ken Griffey, Jr. looks to be the first man out the door, but relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Bill Bray, Gary Majewski, Mike Lincoln and David Weathers along with utility man Ryan Freel and outfielder Corey Patterson look to be hot on Junior's trail out of Cincy. With absolutely great young starting pitching and some talented position prospects, the Reds look to be only a few players away from being THE team in the NL Central.
Dudeman's Take: The Astros have a lineup that in my mind should be doing great. Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee and others. Rookie of the Year candidate last year Hunter Pence has not been as good as one would think before this season. Roy Oswalt also hasn't performed, and recently this team has gone through some very long losing skids. They will be looking for pitching and some consistent bats to try and push this team in the right direction - forward. They are definitely out of the NL Central race after they hung around for a couple weeks at the beginning of the season. They will be wheeling and dealing when the trade deadline comes around.
Gu3's Take: The Houston Astros have interested me all year. Im not sure what it was, they just caught my eye. With Tejada, Berkman, Lee, Oswalt, and Pence on a team; its hard not to like. I even wrote a blog on if they could make a postseason run-http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/190775. I mentioned that they could not because of the lack of pitching. Like the Brewers, they need pitching. They need a mediocre starter and a few good bullpen hands. They have David Newhan and others who can be traded for good pitching.
Hemo's Take: The Houston Astros look to be another team that can deal at the deadline. Starter Brian Moehler, relievers Doug Brocail and Tim Byrdak, utility men Geoff Blum and Mark Loretta, and outfielder Darin Erstad all look to be players that are going to be coveted by those teams high in the standings. Because the Astros are fifth in the NL Central, they'll be looking to get some value for these men, and in this market, they just might find it.
Dudeman's Take: The Brew Crew haven't completely fallen out of the race in the NL Central, but they aren't scaring anyone. Ben Sheets is finally healthy and is pitching like the ace they've needed so deperately in the past. Prince Fielder is finally getting his power back, but the play of J.J. Hardy has really made his hot start last year look like a total fluke. The loss of Yovani Gallardo has reallyhurt this team. They may want to add another pitcher to improve their bullpen, and it looks like the gamble they took on Eric Gagne hasn't payed off. The Brewers really need to rattle off a bunch of wins if they want to be able to scare the Cubs and get into the Wildcard race down the stretch of the season.
Gu3's Take: The Milwaukee Brewers have a very good team full of very underrated players. They can hit and pitch well as well. However, they are going to need bullpen help in order to contend. They have Gallardo and Gange on the DL and dont have the best of arms available. They have to deal some players to get a bullpen arm. Every year, a team is looking to trade a pen-man. I know of the Orioles looking to trade Sherrill and im sure there is many more.
Hemo's Take: The Milwaukee Brewers are still within shouting distance of both the Cubs and the wild card, so expect them to be buyers come the deadline. Don't expect a major blockbuster deal however, as Milwaukee isn't playing solely for 2008, with all of the young talent on their roster. There is quite an excess of relief pitching for the Brew Crew, so they may actually deal from their strength to fix their holes at shortstop and in the outfield (save Ryan Braun). However, if they fall off of the pace between now and the deadline, don't be surprised if the Brewers trade a lot of their relievers and aim for 2009.
Dudeman's Take: The Pirates seem like they are trading for prospects every trade deadline, and most of those prospects never seem to pan out. Poor front office decisions have this team in the same position they are in every season. Selling. Xavier Nady will probably be the most appealing trade piece they have, but he has cooled down after his hot start. They have a few other pieces to shop around the league, and I believe that they should be going after a lot of young pitching prospects. Pitching is the key to winning games, so building a team around a strong, consistent rotation makes for many wins down the stretch of a season.
Gu3's Take: The Pittsburgh Pirates have to be one of the ugliest franchises in pro sports today. However, they do have brightspots. Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady are playing extremely well and will probably be traded while their stock is high and bring young players to Pitt. They have a shortstop and secondbaseman who are very good and have turn very many memorable double plays. They can also hit as well as field. And two pitchers in their rotation are young and will be throwing something special in the future, Duke and Gorzelanny. Looking at them on paper, they are good offensive and just need pitching. And thats what they should get if they want to improve this year. But at this point, save it for the future. Get young.
Hemo's Take: The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't been contenders since the days of Andy Van Slyke (well, they haven't, but it wasn't because of him or anything). Even though they're in fourth in the Central, expect the usual veteran dump come July 31st. Damaso Marte, Jose Bautista, Chris Gomez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Luis Rivas, Jack Wilson, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady all could be had for varying sums of money and prospects. Shamelessly farming out players since the last strike, it seems like Pittsburgh may never be a contender again.
St. Louis Cardinals
Dudeman's Take: The Cardinals rotation has managed to hold it's own without Adam Wainwright. They aren't completely out of the NL Central, but they are slowly falling behind the Cubbies. They recently got Albert Pujols back from the DL and that is huge because he is the key to their success. Pujols is their MVP and without him, the Cards wouldn't be very close to the Cubs. Expect them to try to land a pitcher to help their injury riddled rotation. They probably won't go after someone like a C.C. Sabathia, more like someone who doesn't demand much but can pitch very consistently for them. They have the Wildcard right now, and I would hate to have to face them in the playoffs. They are a dangerous team with a lot of upside. Many players such as Ryan Ludwick have stepped up for the Cards and they are in a great position going into the second half of the MLB season.
Gu3's Take: The St. Louis Cardinals have started out hot with good hitting from lesser players. Players like Ryan Ludwick are hitting the cover off the ball but have recently slowed down. Albert Pujols has been playing injured but still is playing great. However, how can they keep it up without Carpenter for the year, Wainwright on the DL, and Clement on the DL as well. The Cards have 9 guys currently on the DL. 4 of those are on the 60 day DL. They have to be able to keep it up until those guys come back. And then play together well when they come back. However, they will need one more player, and that would be an ace. Sabathia, Burnett, and Bedard are all out there once again.
Hemo's Take: Tony La Russa's St. Louis Cardinals are firmly entrenched in second place in the NL Central, and they're going to be shopping for a player to bring in to change the dynamic of that team and set them over the Cubs. Perhaps the best additions for the Cardinals could come from within, however. On a team with a shallow farm system, the expected returns of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Mark Mulder and Matt Clement will give the Cardinals four starters who are better than anything (excepting CC Sabathia) that could be found on the trade market. Getting Albert Pujols back at first will rejuvenate an offense that has stagnated, and the Cardinals may well become a force in the second half of the season.