By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Jul 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

The race for the National League Central crown is already hot enough, but the St. Louis Cardinals stoked the fires by acquiring two starting pitchers while giving up major league pieces. The front-running Milwaukee Brewers responded by bringing in a Gold Glove-winning outfielder for some prospects.

A day ago, the Cardinals sent a minor leaguer and future draft choice to Cleveland for starter Justin Masterson. St. Louis then doubled down just before the trade deadline by sending major league pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Allan Craig to Boston for right-handed starter John Lackey.

The Brewers, rumored to have been interested in starting pitchers Jon Lester (who was sent to Oakland) and David Price (who went to Detroit), instead made a minor deal by bringing in outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Anthony Banda.

Parra has won two Gold Gloves at each corner of the outfield and comes to the Brewers hitting .259 with six homers and 30 runs batted in 104 games this year. 

The Brewers sent Logan Schafer to Class AAA Nashville to make room for Parra.

Pittsburgh, which made several non-waiver deadline deals last summer as it broke its long playoff drought, made a waiver claim on Chicago White Sox pitcher Angel Sanchez. Sanchez, a right-hander, hasn't pitched above Class AA this year, however.

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.