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July 25, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - epa02261283 St. Louis Cardinals infielder Brendan Ryan (R) steals second base on Chicago Cubs short stop Starlin Castro (L) in the second inning of their Major League Baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 25 July 2010.

There are a lot of good bloggers out there, and just because they don’t write about the Brewers doesn’t mean they’re not putting up great, thoughtful posts.  These were some of my favorite posts from other NL Central bloggers over the past week.  Take a look — it’s better than watching another Red Sox/Yankees game on national TV, right?

– Another Cubs Blog takes a look at what has been an excellent rookie season for Starlin Castro.  Using B-Ref’s play index to go back to 1901, ACB says that Castro’s current OPS+ ranks 13th all-time for rookies aged 20 or under, and 2nd for 20-year old shortstops.  Comparing him to rookies aged 21 or younger, he ranks 28th all-time in OPS+.  Obviously Castro’s had a great season, but when you consider his age and the fact that he made the jump from Double A to the majors, it’s even more impressive.  Definitely one of the top contenders for Rookie of the Year.

– ACB also takes a look at the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” and finds that not much has actually changed in terms of runs scored across the league.  Furthermore, they find that the NL’s numbers are almost exactly the same, and the dip in scoring in the AL may be due to that league’s renewed focus on defense, not just pitching.  Definitely an interesting read.

– Cards blog Pitchers Hit Eighth takes a look at reliever Fernando Salas and the numerous times he’s been shuttled between St. Louis and Memphis this season.  Obviously, with the way Tony LaRussa burns through bullpen arms, there are going to be a couple guys every year who are going to be constantly brought up and sent down to keep the bullpen fresh.  PH8 did the math (taking into consideration which airports he’d use), and estimates that Salas has traveled a total of 5,868 miles between the big leagues and Triple A.  Makes Adam Stern’s constant shuttling earlier this year look like peanuts, doesn’t it?

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– Bullpen Brian notes that Dusty Baker’s contract with the Reds expires at the end of the season, and there hasn’t been much talk of an extension.  If the Reds lose their division lead and miss the playoffs, could Cincy go in a different direction in 2011?

– Astros County reacts to Joe Posnanski naming Carlos Lee the worst everyday player in the majors.  Seems fitting, since Lee has a lower OPS than some pitchers in the NL.

– The Pirates made a bit of news Sunday morning by firing pitching coach Dave Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho.  While the Pirates’ pitching has been horrendous, the news came as a surprise to most.  Rum Bunter notes that Kerrigan got off to a good start by getting credit for good seasons by Zach Duke and Ross Ohlendorf.  This year, however, he’s going to be forced to take the blame for Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln.  Sounds like the typical career arc for a pitching/hitting coach, and a lot like what we saw with Bill Castro last year.  Brewers fans will probably remember Kerrigan most for the Jason Kendall “Dave Kerwin” incident last season…good times.  As far as Varsho goes, with manager John Russell being considered a “good soldier,” WHYGAVS speculates that the Varsho firing was the sacrificial lamb for another disappointing season.

– Red Reporter notes that when it comes to getting the first batter of an inning out, the Reds rank second in the National League.  It seems like common sense, and the numbers back it up — if you get the leadoff man out, your chances of giving up a run are significantly decreased.  After being all about the bats in recent years, the Reds can credit this year’s run in first place to pitching and defense.

– A week after the trade deadline, WhackReds takes a look at Cincinnati’s history of deadline deals and determines that it’s probably a good thing Walt Jocketty didn’t make any moves.  It appears to be working — the Reds have opened up a decent lead in the division since the deadline.