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nl central quick-hitters at midday:

my brother SB Nation blogger jeff at lookout landing thinks adam dunn is overrated -- a very good player yes, but not as good as his age and OPS would suggest. "I don't think the Reds can afford to have this much money tied up in a guy with limited upside," jeff writes, "so they might be better off exploring the trade market now that he's essentially locked up for three years."

the reds may be fixing to do just that, muses mlbtraderumors; the signing of scott hatteberg gives the natti cover for a dunn trade should they want/need it.

for all my quibbles with the cardinals' current payroll allocation, it's a far sight better then the cubs'. good lord, but they're going to be writing some undeserved paychecks this summer. neifi perez will make $2.5 million because . . . . well, because he had to the good fortune to begin his career in colorado and rack up 4 years' worth of .285ish batting avgs, i guess. since leaving the rockies in mid-2001, he's posted a .254 / .283 / .339 line in 2,000+ ab; he'll likely get 400 - 500 ab for the cubs this season at the two MIF slots, to the cards' great benefit. the cubs are also paying $1.5m to henry blanco, who has the lowest career batting average among active players w 1,000 or more ab. he does hit the occasional hr but has a career ops+ of 64 -- three points worse than einar diaz. it would make more sense to pay blanco $1.5m to stay away from the park. the cubs' will pay a combined $4.8m to jerry hairston and todd walker, which might make sense if the cubs would make use of their talents; but both are now trade fodder, and neifi perez may end up stealing the bulk of their playing time. the capper: $9m for greg maddux, which is only about $7.5m too much.

the cards will be carrying some dead weight on the payroll too, but not $15 million worth.