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Let's do a community projection this week. In the comments, list the number of wins you expect the NL Central teams to win. Comma delimit the response and make sure your wins are in the following order:

Astros,Brewers,Cardinals,Cubs,Pirates,Reds

All I need is the 6 win totals separated by commas. That's it; from that I'll tabulate the results of how VEB expects the division to play out.

While you've got your crystal ball handy, you can jump over to Future Redbirds where there are projection threads for Jarrett Hoffpauir and Jaime Garcia.

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With the release of Scott Spiezio there was immediate speculation about who might lay claim to that precious roster spot that Spiezio was believed to be all but certain to get. It's a forgone conclusion that Pujols and Glaus will be on the 25-man. Kennedy, Izturis and (unfortunately) Miles also seem safe bets. The Cardinals certainly have internal options in Brendan Ryan and Joe Mather that could seize the opportunity to make the team and I wouldn't be opposed to either of them. I'm nothing if not stubborn, however, so let me revive a name that I remain convinced has at least as much upside as our internal options.

I've written about Ben Zobrist before and now I see he's 6-for-14 with 3BBs against 4Ks. That's a batting line of .429/.529/.643. It should go without saying that I don't base my assessment of Zobrist solely on those 14 at-bats but they are, potentially, a good sign. With the acquisition of Jason Bartlett and Willy Aybar, Zobrist could be an expendable part for the Rays. Wild speculation brings to mind Bryan Anderson or Mark Hamilton as players that the Rays might be interested in.

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With Tyler Johnson headed to the DL, Ron Villone is the most likely choice to take his place. Here's a few projections for him.

Innings ERA
PECOTA 38 4.35
ZIPS 67 4.43
CHONE 64 4.64
MARCEL 54 4.67

I'll be surprised if he gets 50 innings but an ERA in the mid-4s seems reasonable. When Tyler Johnson comes back the Cardinals may have to decide who to keep between Villone and Flores. I don't expect Flores to be any more effective against left-handers this year as he seems to be headed out of baseball at this point. The Cardinals farm system remains bereft of LH relievers (unless you count Jaime Garcia) so they will probably continue to dip into the free agent pool for retreads and stop-gaps. Alternately, they could follow the Padres lead and simply not carry left handed relievers if they aren't one of their 12 best options. Scratch that thought. TLR is still the manager after all.

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The talk of Brian Barton's arm, or lack thereof, seems overblown to me. Setting aside the importance of throwing versus general outfield range, the cynical side of me feels like I'm being prepped for a messy breakup. We've seen players like Juan Pierre and Johnny Damon succeed despite terrible arms; is Barton really that bad? The Cardinals were looking for a RH outfield bat and they released So Taguchi as a precursor to Barton's acquisition. One would assume that Barton would win a tie with a player like Rasmus who still has options but a tie with Juan Gonzalez or Skip Schumaker? That's a different beast all together.

One option to keep in mind is that the Cardinals and Indians could agree on a player to be sent from the Cardinals to the Indians and essentially complete a delayed trade for Barton. That would free the Cardinals to move him into the minors if they don't feel he's quite ready to play yet. It's an idea worth pursuing as Barton is a gifted athlete nearly ready for the majors. He's be a nice addition to the farm and probably has as high a ceiling as any other outfielder short of Rasmus.

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Gameday link via Liam: St. Louis at LA Dodgers

Enjoy your Friday!