|2007 National League Central Offseason Review||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on January 11, 2008
Lost: OF Jacque Jones (Trade); OF Craig Monroe (Trade); RP Omar Infante (Trade); SS Omar Infante (Trade); OF Angel Pagan (Trade); OF Cliff Floyd (Free Agency); C Jason Kendall (Free Agency); SP Mark Prior (Free Agency)
Added: OF Kosuke Fukudome (Free Agency); RP Kerry Wood (Free Agency)
The Cubs came into the offseason desperately needing to add a top-of-the-order hitter due to Alfonso Soriano’s inability to get on base and striking out on Brian Roberts trade discussions. Kosuke Fukudome should help fill that void well. The only problem is that he does not have the range to play center field, which is where the Cubs could use some help.
Pitching-wise, the team will be all the better for giving up on Mark Prior. They do need another arm in the starting rotation, but one of the kids like Angel Guzman might be ready. However, they’re guaranteeing former closer Ryan Dempster the ball every fifth day, which shows the dearth of quality starting pitching.
Verdict: Good work so far, but construction isn’t done yet.
Lost: 3B Corey Koskie (Free Agency); C Johnny Estrada (Trade); OF Laynce Nix (Free Agency); OF Kevin Mench (Free Agency); RP Francisco Cordero (Free Agency); RP Scott Linebrink (Free Agency)
Added: RP Randy Choate (Free Agency); RP Guillermo Mota (Trade); C Jason Kendall (Free Agency); RP David Riske (Free Agency); RP Salomon Torres (Trade); RP Eric Gagne (Free Agency); OF Gabe Kapler (Free Agency)
After losing both setup Scott Linebrink and closer Francisco Cordero to huge free agent contracts (8 years, $65 million combined), the Milwaukee Brewers made it their prerogative to bolster their relief corps. They added Guillermo Mota and Salomon Torres via trade and both pitchers have speedy fastballs. Also, GM Doug Melvin brought in the Mitchell report-named Eric Gagne, who needs to exhibit the formed he showed in Texas, not Boston.
Verdict: Good work, they just need to sort everything out during spring training
St. Louis Cardinals
Lost: C Gary Bennett (Free Agency); SS David Eckstein (Free Agency); RP Troy Percival (Free Agency); OF So Taguchi (Free Agency); SP Kip Wells (Free Agency); OF Jim Edmonds (Trade)
Added: C Jason LaRue (Free Agency); SS Cesar Izturis (Free Agency); SP Matt Clement (Free Agency); 2B Aaron Miles (Free Agency)
A few seasons ago, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds formed one of the most fearsome middle of the lineups in major league baseball. This offseason, however, the Cardinals have desperately tried to move the latter two. Edmonds is gone, dealt to the San Diego Padres in a straight salary dump, but Rolen remains, and moving him would be nothing but a salary dump as well. It is being reported that the Cardinals are wanting too much in return for some other team to take Rolen off their hands, especially considered his salary.
There really was not much the Cardinals can do. They go into next season with a decent offense, but one with gaping holes all over the diamond, including catcher, second base, shortstop, third base, and center field. Their pitching is weak, but should gain some strength when/if Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder return healthy. And if Matt Clement, who was reportedly throwing in the upper 80s last September, returns to form, it may be a very helpful addition.
Verdict: Losers, but there was very little they could do
Lost: SP Matt Albers (Trade); SP Troy Patton (Trade); OF Luke Scott (Trade); RP Dennis Sarfate (Trade); OF Josh Anderson (Trade); SS Eric Bruntlett (Trade); RP Brad Lidge (Trade); SS Adam Everett (Free Agency); RP Chad Qualls (Trade); 2B Chris Burke (Trade)
Added: RP Doug Brocail (Free Agency); RP Jose Valverde (Trade); RP Oscar Villarreal (Trade); SS Miguel Tejada (Trade); OF Darin Erstad (Free Agency); 2B Kazuo Matsui (Free Agency)
It is difficult to defend this offseason as a good one for the Houston Astros. Sure, they added a decent shortstop bat in Miguel Tejada, but he is a shadow of his former, steroid-enhanced self. The Astros are likely hoping he can complement Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee in the middle of the lineup, but Tejada is only a complimentary player at this point in his career.
The Astros also lost quite a bit of pitching, replacing Brad Lidge and Chad Qualls with Jose Valverde. Their big arms in the back of the bullpen consist of Valverde, Doug Brocail, and Oscar Villarreal. That is not enough to inspire fear. Their rotation is quite weak, as well. Only Roy Oswalt is really deserving of receiving the ball every fifth day.
Verdict: Losers. They needed to add pitching but went in the opposite direction
Lost: RP Jim Brower (Free Agency); 2B Jorge Cantu (Free Agency); RP Eddie Guardado (Free Agency); OF Josh Hamilton (Trade)
Added: RP Francisco Cordero (Free Agency); SP Edison Volquez (Trade); 1B Andy Phillips (Free Agency)
The Cincinnati Reds made one offseason splash when they acquired Francisco Cordero, but the closer is going to do very little for this ballclub. A team with an atrocious bullpen and very little chance of winning much next season does not need an ace closer. Instead, they need arms and tons of them.
The addition of Edison Volquez helps that end. He should provide innings in the future as a number three or four starter. Combine that production with Homer Bailey, Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, and Bronson Arroyo, and the Reds’ rotation in 2010 may be good. Next year, not so much.
Verdict: Not a lot they could do
Lost: 3B Jose Castillo (Free Agency); SS Cesar Izturis (Free Agency); 1B Josh Phelps (Free Agency); RP Salomon Torres (Trade)
Added: SP/RP Elmer Dessens (Free Agency); SS Chris Gomez (Free Agency)
A 68-94 record tells the story of a bad 2007 season. This little offseason movement forecasts just as bad of a season next year. The Pirates have done nothing to improve their team’s fortunes next season, but the arms of Zach Duke and Paul Maholm may mature enough to be a good 1-2 punch atop the rotation.
If Jason Bay decides to hit again, the offense may not be such a black hole. First baseman Adam LaRoche hit well last season, while second baseman Freddy Sanchez, catcher Ronny Paulino, and outfielder Xavier Nady are all legitimate contributors.
Verdict: More of the same -- losing