Move over Cliff Lee, because this move will make more of an impact than Lee going back to Philadelphia. Zack Greinke was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday morning and this shifts the entire outlook of the National League.
The Brewers finished third in the National League Central last year, 14 games back of the Cincinnati Reds. Milwaukee was not light in hitting, but struggled mightily on the mound. They finished 12th in runs scored, but were 26th in ERA.
The ERA number should change drastically.
This move was made with the plan of revamping the starting rotation. Going into next season, the Brewers had Yovanni Gallardo (3.84 ERA, 200 Ks in 2010), Randy Wolf (4.17 ERA in 215 innings) and recently acquired Shaun Marcum (3.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in Toronto).
This makes them an immediate player in the NL Central and the National League as a whole. If you take a look at the divisions and really break down the rosters, there were only a few teams who could have competed.
In the West, it is San Francisco's division to lose.
The Dodgers are picking up scraps from other teams and are in total dysfunction. Colorado cannot stay healthy and have to hope for another stellar season from Carlos Gonzalez to stay close.
Who will win the NL Central?
The Diamondbacks and Padres have already mailed it in for 2011.
There is no legitimate contender for Philadelphia in the East.
The Mets are still trying to figure out their offense and have no stand out pitcher except for Johan Santana. Jason Bay needs to stay healthy.
Florida has a solid core of young players, but without Dan Uggla in the middle of the lineup, they are no match for anybody.
I wonder how much Bobby Cox retiring will affect the Braves. The more pressing issue is what they do for a closer.
Billy Wagner is retired and they may need a bullpen by committee at the beginning to figure that part out.
Atlanta's offense is questionable as well. Sure, they have Brian McCann and Jason Heyward but after that, who?
Chipper Jones is a shell of himself. Matt Diaz is gone. Alex Gonzalez and Troy Glaus are another year older.
The Washington Nationals are not at this stage yet. They have a great deal of young talent, but they are not ready to make the leap yet, especially without Steven Strasburg.
This leaves the Central, which is now wide open.
It looks to be a three team race between the Brewers, Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The young Reds team received their first taste of postseason baseball, only to be swept away by the Phillies. The Cardinals did not have enough gas in the tank to make a September run.
For the Reds, youth is on their side. Their young pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez, have another year of experience under their belts and for Volquez, hopefully a healthy season.
Joey Votto is one of the premier players in baseball.
The Cardinals have the best player on the planet in Albert Pujols and one of the best one-two punches in baseball (Carpenter and Wainwright) when healthy.
The Brewers now have front of the line pitchers to be able to matchup with the others in the division.
This is also a more complete team than the one with CC Sabathia in 2008. The rotation is deeper, the lineup is more mature and they have a solid guy at the end of the bullpen with John Axford (24 saves in 27 chances).
They will make a run at the playoffs and, if they get in, could be very dangerous.