NL Central update: Gold Glove, closers and more

  • Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says he believes his flashy style turned Gold Glove voters against him last season.

    Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says he believes his flashy style turned Gold Glove voters against him last season. Associated Press

  • Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says he likes to play with flair because the game is boring without it.

    Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says he likes to play with flair because the game is boring without it. Associated Press

Updated 2/18/2013 4:41 PM

Let's take a loop around the National League Central, which is minus one team now that the Houston Astros have moved to the American League.

That means nobody can finish sixth anymore in the NL Central.


Cincinnati Reds:

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney won the Gold Glove last year, dethroning Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips. Over the weekend, Phillips said his flashy style may have cost him Gold Glove votes. Managers and coaches do the Gold Glove voting.

"When I watch myself on TV, I see why other teams don't like me," Phillips told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "There's nothing wrong with that. It means I'm a good baseball player. If I was a sorry player, they wouldn't care. But I feel like I'm good enough that I might be a threat to their team.

"The only thing I can do is go out and play the game the way I do. I do it with flair because baseball is a boring game. That's why I play with flair. Do I think that's one of the main reasons I didn't win the Gold Glove? Yeah, I can say that. The managers don't like me. They see my work ethic. They see I'm a good baseball player. If I was on their team, they'd love me."

The big story in Reds camp is the conversion of hard-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman from closer to starter.

Chapman worked as a starter during spring training last year and did well. He moved to the pen when closer Ryan Madson got hurt. Chapman put up 38 saves, striking out 122 in 71 innings.

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"It's the same as last year," manager Dusty Baker told the local media. "We started him out as a starter. Then Madson went down. We had no clue (Chapman) was going to be that good as a closer. I don't think anybody did. We didn't know if he'd throw enough strikes."

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers have suffered a big blow as first baseman //">Mat Gamel will miss the entire season because of a recurrence of a knee injury.

"We had an MRI on him, and it didn't come back very good," manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee media Monday.

Gamel was going to replace Corey Hart at first base. Hart had off-season knee surgery. Reports say the Brewers now will work with Taylor Green, Alex Gonzalez, Bobby Crosby and Hunter Morris at first base.

St. Louis Cardinals:

The Cardinals are going for long-term stability, having recently signed general manager John Mozeliak to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in the job through 2016.

The club also picked up the option on manager Mike Matheny's contract through 2014.

Mozeliak took over after Walt Jocketty was let go in 2007. The Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 and played in the National League championship series last year.


The Cardinals' website points out that Mozeliak's first trade was to obtain minor-league third baseman David Freese for center fielder Jim Edmonds.

Mozeliak now faces the task of trying to lock up pitcher Adam Wainwright, who can become a free agent after this coming season. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the two sides have maintained a good relationship.

However, the paper's Joe Strauss wrote: "If the Cardinals are bigger than (Albert) Pujols, they are also bigger than Wainwright."

Pujols, whom many figured would be a Cardinal for life, signed last winter with the Los Angeles Angels after the Cardinals would go only so far in negotiations.

Pittsburgh Pirates:

The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking a novel approach to their closer's job. They've given it to 36-year-old Jason Grilli after trading Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox.

"That's the beauty of the game," manager Clint Hurdle told reporters. "He could be the guy that goes in, sets it up and from here on in we'll go, 'Hey, it's not too late to put a guy in this position.'"

The Pirates signed Grilli to a two-year, $6.75 million contract this off-season. The Cubs reportedly had an interest in Grilli, who seems to be relishing this opportunity late in his career.

"I think everybody's going to question, 'Can he do it?' " Grilli said to reporters. "People can ask that question all day long. I'm going to go out and pitch the way I pitch. Sometimes, I'm going to be the goat; at times, I'm going to be the hero. To get to this point, I've prepared. And all the bad that's happened has prepared me for what's to come.

"I know I can handle it."


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