NL Central Notes: La Russa, Pujols, Pence, Brewers

Let's look at some notes from the NL Central as we remember the legendary Harry Caray, who passed away on this day in 1998.

  • The close relationship between Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols may be the Cardinals' "secret weapon" for keeping Pujols in St. Louis, writes SI.com's Jon Heyman.  Of course, La Russa's own contract is only guaranteed through this season, and he could very well decide his future with the club before Pujols has to this winter.  A St. Louis Post-Dispatch roundtable looks at how the futures of the Cardinals manager and slugger are intertwined.
  • The Cubs "should move heaven and earth" to acquire Pujols if he hits the free agent market, says ESPN's Michael Wilbon.  The potential pros of signing a franchise player outweigh, in Wilbon's opinion, the record-setting costs a Pujols contract could entail: "Please don't bother me with what might happen when Pujols reaches 40 or 41 years of age and whether he'll be overpaid by then….when the alternative is stealing away your hated rival's best-ever player and putting him into your lineup in the prime of his life."
  • Hunter Pence's arbitration case took place this morning, and MLB.com's Brian McTaggart talks to Astros GM Ed Wade about the process.  The arbitration panel is expected to have a decision ready by Saturday.  Pence is the last remaining arb-eligible player without a contract, as MLBTR's ArbTracker indicates. 
  • The Brewers have signed pre-arb players Zach Braddock, Chris Dickerson, Brandon Kintzler and Jonathan Lucroy to contracts, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Reds prospect Yonder Alonso is continuing his outfield training this spring, and talks to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon about how learning a different position is key to his future in Cincinnati.  Alonso's natural position, first base, is of course blocked by NL MVP Joey Votto.
  • "There is still a good chance" the Astros will trade Jeff Keppinger once the veteran infielder proves he's healthy after offseason foot surgery, says ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill.  Houston shopped Keppinger during the Winter Meetings, with the Yankees showing some interest, but negotiations didn't pan out.

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