NL Central trade deadline analysis
Division race looks the same after trade deadline
For two of the National League Central division's six teams, the trade deadline came and went without so much as a minor trade, while the other four made deals that, at best, will likely have only cosmetic impact on the remainder of the season.
A trade market that was supposed to see significant deals involving Cincinnati and Pittsburgh never materialized and the high-flying St. Louis Cardinals and surging Houston Astros decided to leave well enough alone.
So did Milwaukee, which also stood pat as Sunday's 4 p.m. ET deadline passed.
The bottom line is that the division race looks the same as it did before the deadline, with St. Louis holding a commanding lead and none of the pursuers making the kind of deals that might have changed the complexion of the race.
Here's a look at where each NL Central team stood as of Sunday evening:
CARDINALS: The Cardinals were looking for outfield help with Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker on the disabled list, and were interested in Pittsburgh's Matt Lawton and David Dellucci of Texas. But the Cubs wound up with Lawton and Texas wouldn't part with Dellucci. The Cardinals were not about to overpay for any of the other less attractive options, especially since they figure to have everyone healthy by early September.
ASTROS: The Astros were looking for left-handed pitching and another bat, but like St. Louis, didn't feel the urgency to address those needs. They had a deal for Jamie Moyer ready to go, but the veteran lefty vetoed the trade. They'd also scouted Scott Eyre and Jason Christensen of the Giants, but San Francisco wouldn't budge. Even so, the Wild Card-leading Astros have no regrets.
"Everyone feels good about this club," GM Tim Purpura said. "We're producing enough offense clearly now, we've got great starting pitching, we've got great relief pitching, and we've got the best closer, I think, in baseball. Now, we just have to keep it up."
CUBS: The Cubs tried Jody Gerut for two weeks after obtaining the outfielder from Cleveland for outfielder Jason Dubois, then dealt Gerut to Pittsburgh for Lawton on Sunday.
Lawton will help the Cubs' inconsistent offense. He's a good table setter with some pop and he's no slouch defensively, either. The best midseason help for Chicago will come Friday when the team is expected to activate shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and pitchers Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson.
BREWERS: The Brewers had money to spend but didn't find anything on the market they wanted to buy. They also were not willing to move players like Lyle Overbay, a slugger a number of teams inquired about in recent weeks.
"The problem is that teams want to get better but they don't want to move any players out of their lineup," GM Doug Melvin said. "They want to add, but they don't want to subtract."
Melvin did make a trade on June 10 when he sent infielder Junior Spivey to the Nationals for right-hander Tomo Ohka, but overall the Brewers are going to play the second half with much the same cast they used in the first three months of the season.
PIRATES: Lawton went to the Cubs for Gerut, a left-handed bat who should benefit from playing at PNC Park.
"Gerut has been a productive guy, both with home runs and getting on base," said Pirates GM Dave Littlefield. "We think that he'll be a piece of our outfield for the next couple of years."
The Pirates are probably not dealing however, as pitchers Mark Redman and Jose Mesa are being eyed by a number of teams and may clear waivers for an August deal, especially Redman. Just as he did with Brian Giles, don't be surprised if Littlefield pulls off a deal in August.
REDS: Other than third baseman Joe Randa, the Reds saw the deadline pass without the club trading any of its sought-after veterans like Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, Austin Kearns or Ken Griffey Jr. Randa went to San Diego for pitching prospects Justin Germano and Travis Chick.
"We're not going to make a trade just for the sake of making a trade," GM Dan O'Brien said. "Our No. 1 priority was [trading] Randa. We accomplished that. And if any other scenarios were to unfold, it would be based on a deal that we feel is in our best interests. A fair deal, but one that would have to benefit the organization."
Criticized by some for not making more deals, O'Brien deserves credit for holding his ground. The value of players like Dunn, Casey and Kearns will certainly be as great, if not greater, next winter. The market should be better, as well.
The Reds need pitching badly, but they aren't going anywhere this season and they owe it to their fans to get a deal that made sense in the long term. Those kind of trades weren't there in July, but they might be come December.
"If a team wants a regular Major League player from you, however you want to define that, we have to have some Major League-caliber pitching coming back our way," O'Brien said. "That's where the rub is."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.