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NL Central Notes: Ryan Braun, Brandon Phillips, Starlin Castro

This is it: The eeriest photo in the SB Nation feed. Including that picture of Joey Votto where he looks exactly like Jim Edmonds.
This is it: The eeriest photo in the SB Nation feed. Including that picture of Joey Votto where he looks exactly like Jim Edmonds.

Some last minute editing on one of my other writing timesinks has left me unable to complete the ceremonial pre-Reds play in one act in time for the morning thread, so here's hoping I get it done in time for the, uh, mid-afternoon thread. In the meantime, some NL Central notes and a freshly laundered comments thread:

1. Ryan Braun, fresh from his tryout for a fresh-faced sixties singing group, signed a five-year extension with the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday. Which would be a great get for a mid-market team if it weren't scheduled to begin in 2016. Braun is a better bet than Ryan Howard to remain a star long enough for the contract to actually take effect, and he's not screwing up the market for Albert Pujols, so I can't complain.

But the Brewers have control of Braun through 2015 already, at a great price; with this deal it seems like they're basically avoiding two expensive years at the end of a long-term deal in exchange for going into a five-year deal almost completely blind. I'm not sure I would make that move, unless it retroactively wiped out everything I had to read and write about regarding the Cardinals in January. 

2. Brandon Phillips is perhaps the first and best internet troll in the illustrious history of Major League Baseball. But mostly I'm just fascinated about his life. Among the recent appearances on his Twitter feed: Nelly; our own RasmusGirl, who is advised to "change your name lady"; the hashtag #BPFanShawty, presumably reserved for the first teenager who makes a "Brandon Phillips Fire Burning In The Infield" video; Ruben Studdard; and the official Chick-fil-A Twitter account.

There's something faintly eccentric about all this, peaking with Ruben Studdard's appearance; basically I imagine that a fourth-tier Howard Hughes or Michael Jackson type would eventually assemble this exact same coterie of people and things. I'm going to be very disappointed if Phillips's house doesn't have a miniature railroad in it, or servants' quarters for his giraffe-keepers, or something. 

3. Finally, a little Ask VEB: What do you think about Starlin Castro? I'm a little startled by how relatively unheralded he's been to this point, considering how old he is, the position he plays, and the city he plays in. If a 20-year-old shortstop were to hit .300 across most of a full rookie season in Minnesota, you'd say, "We'd know all about this guy if he were playing for the Yankees, the Red Sox, or the Cubs, and named something cool, like Starlin." Now he's playing for the Cubs, and hitting .375, and I'm significantly further from Cubs territory than I used to be but I still find it bizarre that I'm not being assaulted by his image on a regular basis.