NL Central Notes: Pirates, Brewers, Baker, Soriano

It was on this date in 1972 that Roberto Clemente collected the 3,000th and final hit of what would become a Hall of Fame career. Clemente would perish three months later in a New Year's Eve plane crash while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Forty years later, the Pirates sealed their 20th consecutive losing season by falling to the Reds 4-3. Pittsburgh was 16 games over .500 on August 6, but has lost 18 of 23 to drop to 77-82. Elsewhere in the NL Central Division:

  • The Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs today with a clunker of a 7-0 shutout loss to the Astros. However, the outlook for 2013 looks bright, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt believes the Brewers should be able to concentrate during the offseason on improving their pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen, the major area of weakness on the 2012 team.
  • Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters, including Haudricourt in a separate article, that he doesn't think Zack Greinke will be returning to Milwaukee. "I don't think we're going to sign a guy for five years and $120 million," said Roenicke. "We made him a great offer. We'll see how much he likes it in Anaheim.
  • Dusty Baker will be back at the helm of the Reds on Monday when they travel to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals to close out the regular season. Baker has missed 11 games while recovering from a minor stroke and an irregular heartbeat. Baker is a free agent after this season and a popular theory has him headed to the Dodgers, according to Ken Rosenthal of Rosenthal dismisses the rumor. However, Rosenthal reports, citing a Baker friend, that the 63-year-old definitely wants to continue managing, but recognizes that he will need to take better care of himself.
  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum admitted to reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, that Alfonso Soriano's trade value has never been higher and could be dealt this offseason. "It’s as high as it can be,” Sveum said. “Those kind of things are all (dependent ) on what you’re getting back and all those kind of things. The replacement value of that is very difficult to find."  

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