Quick Hits: NL Central Grades, J. Upton, Salazar

Here are some items of note for Feb. 8. On this day in 1999, the Red Sox's arbitration hearing with Midre Cummings was decided by Elizabeth Neumeier, marking the first time a woman had decided an arbitration case since its adoption by MLB in 1974. The preceeding 409 cases had all been decided by men.

  • With Spring Training nearly upon us and most teams merely making a few roster tweaks here and there, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hands out his grades for the best and worst offseasons among the residents of the NL Central. The Brewers, on the strength of bolstering their rotation with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, fared the best, writes Stark. The Cubs did well to retool a bit with the additions of Matt Garza and Carlos Pena, while the Pirates and Reds got so-so marks for their modest changes. The rebuilding Astros are pulling up the rear, and the jury is still out on the Cardinals, who have an outstanding issue to tend to with respect to a potential extension for Albert Pujols.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was never really interested in dealing Justin Upton this offseason, writes Tom Verducci of SI.com, but he felt it prudent to gauge other teams' interest. No offers were of particular interest to Towers, according to Verducci. Towers is interested in seeing what Upton can do under the tutelage of new hitting coach Don Baylor, under whom one-time uberprospect Carlos Gonzalez realized his full potential with the Rockies in 2010.
  • Padres infielder Oscar Salazar has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, has accepted his minor league assignment and will be in Major League camp, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.

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