Winter Meetings Wrap: NL Central
Meanwhile, there were a handful of other moves in the division. The Cardinals signed Brad Penny, seemingly to take Joel Pineiro's spot in the rotation. The Pirates signed what's left of Bobby Crosby. The Astros lost LaTroy Hawkins and possibly Jose Valverde, but added Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon and Gary Majewski. They also signed Pedro Feliz at the last minute to fill a need at third base.
The Brewers shored up their pitching staff to go with their already stacked offense. Yovani Gallardo will continue emerging as an ace and there's still some hope for Manny Parra. But after that, the Brewers were scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Bringing in Randy Wolf, a left-hander who had a 3.23 ERA in a career-high 214 1/3 innings last season, was a big acquisition. General manager Doug Melvin wasn't done, though, as he promptly turned around and took Hawkins away from division rival Houston. "Hawk" took the hill 65 times in relief last season for the Astros, compiling a 2.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He also saved 11 games when Jose Valverde was on the shelf. He's a phenomenal eighth-inning bridge to Trevor Hoffman and could fill in should Hoffman fall injured.
There were no shortage of rumors regarding where the Cubs would trade Bradley and several times someone would report the Cubs were "close" to a deal. Yet every time something was reported there was an instant denial and nothing ever materialized. Perhaps some wheels have been set in motion, but it's really hard to see someone taking Bradley without the Cubs footing nearly all of the bill for his contract. Look for general manager Jim Hendry to go into desperation mode soon, because their other offseason plans (like maybe signing Mike Cameron to fill their center field void) are being held hostage by the Bradley situation.
The Cardinals still need to address who will protect Albert Pujols, and if they don't sign Holliday they'll have to do something. Again, they are in a bit of a holding pattern. They were able to essentially replace Pineiro with Penny, but there will be a big hole in the offense until the Holliday situation sorts itself out. It is still early in the process, but it doesn't look like the heavy-hitting Yankees, Red Sox or Mets will be involved in the bidding for Holliday. That's a great sign for the Cards.
Finally, the Reds haven't done much to address their holes at shortstop and left field. They don't have much financial flexibility, so they'd probably have to shed payroll in order to make worthwhile additions in either spot, but they were really quiet all week. Aaron Harang is said to be on the block, but nary a whisper was heard about him.
Hey, the offseason is far from over. If a team didn't get anything done in Indy, it doesn't mean all hope is lost. Aside from the Brewers (obvious winner), the Astros did some good after a slow start. They learned Valverde turned down arbitration and they were losing Hawkins, but turned around and added three quality bullpen arms in addition to grabbing a third baseman with some pop in his bat (of course, you could argue they overpaid greatly, but that's Ed Wade for you).
Everyone still has work to do to get to where they want to be. The Winter Meetings, for many of them, were more about laying groundwork for moves than actually making them. At least that's what the Cubs and Cardinals are hoping.