The National League Central has been one of the more active divisions this off-season and today that still holds true:
Mike Cameron is now a Milwaukee Brewer, the team had reportedly been after the services of Kenny Lofton, but didn't want to swap Bill Hall to left field and weren't sure about putting him at third base and moving Ryan Braun to left, this deal seems to suggest the latter scenario will happen.
Cameron's deal is worth 4.22 million this year due to his 25 game suspension with a club option for 2009 worth 10 million, add in a signing bonus of 1.25 million and a possible 750K option buyout and it's a reasonable add for a reasonable price.
The Brewers defense was sorely lacking at third base with Braun, he should fit in a lot better out in left and will undoubtedly play better defense then Carlos Lee did a few years back. Factor in that Braun's bat isn't exactly going to cost the Brewers' value out in left field and really the move makes sense. Hall had a disappointing 2007, only possessing an OPS+ of 89 after back to back years with OPS+ over 115.
As for Cameron he adds Gold Glove worthy defense and a bit of a streaky bat, but he hasn't posted an OPS+ below 100 since 1998 if you can believe that. You really shouldn't put much weight into a 10 game sample, but Cameron has absolutely mashed at Miller Park, including four homeruns and an OPS over 1.100. He struggled a bit last season and it's not much of a surprise he turned to stimulants to try and jumpstart his season heading into the off-season as a fere agent.
The Brewers don't seem to have a qualm with adding players accused or charged with stimulant or performance enhancing drug usage and really they shouldn't, I'm sure some columnist will bash them for giving the juicers jobs, but at the same time you're still playing a game of shadows - pardon the pun - with the users who haven't been exposed yet.
It's a bit hard to believe, but the Cardinals are the World Series' champions once removed, today however they dismantled another part of that team by moving Scott Rolen for Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus - assuming both waive their no-trade clauses and pass physicals. All along teams like the Brewers had been mentioned concerning Rolen, but in the end the Cardinals executed a challenge trade.
Rolen and manager Tony LaRussa aren't fans of each other, Glaus has PED concerns and his knees can't stand the turf, so in a way the two had to be moved and what better way to execute a trade but to swap two birds with one deal - no pun intended that time. Contract wise Rolen will make 12 million through the 2010 season while Glaus makes 12.75 million this year then has a player option for 2009 worth 11.25 million, interestingly the Diamondbacks will also save money in this deal by not having to pay an extra year or two of the difference in tax that Glaus had to pay for playing outside of the United States.
Glaus is 31 and played in 115 games last year, hitting .262/.366/.473 and was on pace to come awfully close to his 2006 season when he made the All-Star team and finished 30th in MVP voting. He's not great in the field, but he probably won't hurt the Cardinals, and if nothing else he should fill the offensive void left by Rolen while not having that creeping sense of tension between manager and star player.
Rolen will turn 33 during the opening week of the season and is coming off of only playing 112 games with a down 89 OPS+, making it the second time of the past three years he's played in fewer than 140 games and finished below 100 in OPS+. Certainly going to the American League where he can occasionally pace Frank Thomas as the Jays' designated hitter should help, but remember if Rolen had issues with LaRussa and Larry Bowa before him he's going to have a field day with Jays' manager John Gibbons who has had a few confrontations with players over his time, if Rolen wants to fist fight Gibbons will oblige.
On paper the deal is pretty equal based on both players having issues, injuries, and past success with a chance to rebound in 2008, but the Cardinals seem to have gotten the slight edge based purely on age and clubhouse tension.
Finally one minor signing: the A's inking Emil Brown who was terrible last year, but could provide decent pop off of the bench, it doesn't hurt that Brown had two straight years of OBP's around .350 entering last season, perhaps he regains the ability to have an OPS over .800 next year because he's surely not going to earn his job in the field.