Greinke makes Brewers a Central contender

December, 20, 2010
12/20/10
4:08
PM CT
Zack Greinke and Shaun MarcumIcon SMIZack Greinke and Shaun Marcum will help form one of the top staffs in the NL.
CHICAGO -- The Milwaukee Brewers' acquisition of Zack Greinke pushes the Brewers back into competition in the National League Central with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

After obtaining Shaun Marcum in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Brewers' top four of Greinke, Marcum, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf can compete with anyone in the Division.

Although the Kerry Wood signing has solidified an already strong Cubs bullpen, general manger Jim Hendry now has to try to pull the trigger on a top-of-the-order pitcher via trade. Two pitchers who seem to be available are Tampa's Matt Garza and Cleveland's Fausto Carmona.

Both the Rays and Indians will want top prospects in return for their pitchers. The difficult part in the Cubs obtaining a pitcher of this caliber is the Yankees and Rangers are in the hunt for additional staring pitching.

The Rangers have a lot of top minor-league talent to trade, and new York has three top-flight young catchers in its organization: Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romaine. Baseball America recently ranked Montero the Yankee's No. 1 prospect, Sanchez No. 2 and Romaine No. 6 overall.

The Cubs also have good young talent. Multiple teams have inquired about the available of Double-A catcher Robinson Chirinos and shortstop Jae-Hak Lee.

The Cubs plan to move Andrew Cashner into the starting rotation in the spring. Assistant general manager Randy Busy confirmed that information on ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball" on Saturday. Although Cashner's 98 MPH fastball represents some nice possibilities for the Cubs, a rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Cashner doesn't appear to be enough to challenge the top three.

After signing Wood, the consensus is that Cashner, with two above-average pitches in this arsenal, can handle pitching in the major leagues as a starter.

The Cubs envision Cashner and right-handed pitchers Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer as part of their young rotation of the future in 2012 and beyond.

Carmona was 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA for a bad Cleveland team last season. Garza was 15-10 with 3.91 ERA.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Emilio Bonifacio
BA HR RBI R
.339 0 2 9
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 2
RBIA. Rizzo 8
RA. Rizzo 9
OPSA. Rizzo .922
WJ. Hammel 2
ERAJ. Samardzija 1.29
SOT. Wood 19