Central Notes: Cardinals, Reds, Willingham, Ryan

Three of baseball's hottest teams reside in the NL Central, where the Reds (15 wins in their last 17 games) hold a two-game lead over the Pirates (15-6 in their last 21 games) and a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals (seven wins in their last eight games).  Let's check out the latest from both leagues' Central divisions…

  • The improved performance of the Cardinals' rotation "takes a little pressure off in terms of feeling like we have to do something," GM John Mozeliak tells MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.  "If you were to go after a starter, who are you really bouncing out? And how are you improving? That's why I don't think the urgency is quite there for rotational help as maybe it was, say, three or four weeks ago." It seems as if St. Louis will trade for a reliever if they do make a deadline move for pitching, Langosch notes, though the bullpen has also recently been better.
  • The Reds are looking to start their trade deadline shopping, with a leadoff man atop their wishlist, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • The Indians were only willing to offer two guaranteed years to Josh Willingham last winter given the slugger's injury woes, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Willingham ended up signing a three-year contract with the Twins and is enjoying a superb season, while the Tribe is still looking for a big right-handed bat for their lineup. 
  • Twins interim GM Terry Ryan told Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that he hasn't spoken to team owner Carl Pohlad about taking over the position on a permanent basis. "We haven't talked about it at all and I don't anticipate talking about it until we get to the latter part of this year," Ryan said.  "We have not had a good year. We've got a lot of work to do here. I'm not in any position to say that interim is going to be off me."
  • "It's business as usual" for the Royals heading into the deadline, GM Dayton Moore tells MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Moore wouldn't comment on rumors about Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jeff Francoeur or Jose Mijares.

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