NL Central Notes: Rizzo, Pirates, Appel, Cardinals

The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 7-6 win over the Cubs this afternoon.  Yadier Molina was the hero for St. Louis, delivering a walkoff RBI single to cinch the victory.  Here's the latest from around the NL Central…

  • Theo Epstein was hesitant to make the trade that brought Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs since Epstein didn't want to give up Andrew Cashner, reports Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.  It was Cubs GM Jed Hoyer who "aggressively pushed" for the deal.  Levine covers a number of different Cubs (and White Sox) topics in this online chat with readers.
  • The Pirates aren't likely to make a trade to address their hitting problems, GM Neal Huntington told reporters (including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).  “There are very, very few trades of substance made in May and there are few trades of substance made in June, so our solutions are going to have to come internally unless we’re willing to be less than intelligent and dramatically overpay. That’s just the way it is," Huntington said.  “We’re certainly looking externally, but the extra wild card has made it that much more of a challenge. There are fewer sellers out there, and we’re going to have to be creative.”
  • ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) has released his first 2012 mock draft and he projects the Astros to take Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the first overall pick.  "The general feeling is that they'll take the college arm over the higher-upside, higher-risk outfielder, Byron Buxton," Law writes, though he notes that Houston's decision could also be determined by which player is willing to sign for the lowest price beneath the $7.2MM slot figure for the first pick.
  • Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal's hot starts have fueled the Cardinals' big offensive numbers, writes Scott Miller for CBS Sports.

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