It was on this day in 2002 that the Cubs traded swingman Julian Tavarez and three prospects to the Marlins for Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca. While Clement and Alfonseca were useful players for Chicago, this is definitely a “what if?” deal for the Cubs and their fans since Dontrelle Willis was one of the prospects sent to the Fish. The deal immediately led to some pain for the Cubs when Willis’ Marlins beat Chicago in the 2003 NLCS (featuring the infamous Steve Bartman incident) en route to a World Series title.
Here’s some news from around the NL Central…
- The Brewers announced several roster moves today, including the news that Will Middlebrooks, Eric Young Jr., Josmil Pinto, Shane Peterson, Manny Pina and Jake Elmore were told they won’t be making the Major League roster (Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the rundown of all the transactions). All six players will remain in the Brewers’ camp. Five of the six were new arrivals this winter — Pina was part of the Francisco Rodriguez trade with the Tigers, Pinto was a waiver claim from the Padres, and Middlebrooks, Young and Elmore were all minor league signings.
- Jeff Samardzija told ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers that he met with Theo Epstein this winter to explore a possible return to the Cubs, though not much came from the talks. “From where we were at, it takes a lot more to get a deal done. I think Theo had an idea of what they wanted and what they were looking for this year,” Samardzija said. The new Giants rotation member also discusses his previous stint with the Cubs and how the club’s rebuilding process has seemed to pay off.
- The Pirates reinvested in their bullpen this winter, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes, a strategy that makes an increasing amonut of financial and statistical sense, particularly for mid-market payroll clubs like the Bucs.
- Now that Eric O’Flaherty has been traded to Atlanta, it looks like Cory Luebke is going to make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. The 31-year-old has reportedly clocking in at 94mph with his fastball and 87mph with his curve this spring. Luebke has an opt-out on Tuesday but it sounds like the Bucs won’t give opposing teams a chance to snatch him up.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that the team’s decision on Rule 5 right-hander Matt Bowman “could come down to the final hour,” as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. The Cardinals selected Bowman off of the Mets’ roster in December, making him their first Rule 5 selection in four years. Roughly two weeks ago, ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reported that Bowman was “more likely than not” to make the cut in St. Louis.
- Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo will be taking a medical leave of absence to recover from offseason knee surgery, the club told reporters today (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Manager Mike Matheny said the Cards are preparing as if Oquendo will miss the entire season, and several members of the St. Louis coaching staff have shuffled positions.
- The Reds have some decisions to make before Opening Day, as C. Trent Rosecrans and Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer project the club’s 25-man roster.