The Ryan Ludwick factor

A poster, by the name of, “fixisin” recently left comments that he (or she…..no idea without a name) was not pleased about the Cardinals recent two losses, especially the 3-2 loss to the Cubs.  After we got the leadoff runner on 2nd, the next 3 Redbirds were Brendan Ryan, Felipe Lopez and Allen Craig.  Miles never even got to 3rd.  Here’s my take on the game if you would like to read it.

While I was equally disgusted about the loss, he blamed it on Ryan Ludwick being traded to the San Diego Padres.  I was sad to see Ludwick go, but I don’t know that this particular trade is to blame here.  In fact, this was the first game since Ludwick was traded at the deadline (July 31st) that the Cardinals didn’t score 4 runs.

But I appreciate comments (I respond to every one) and I equally love stats, so I thought, hey, let’s look at the numbers and see what they say about the situation.  Let me preface my findings though by saying that it’s still way too early to tell if the Ludwick / Westbrook trade is going to be to our advantage or not, but here are what the numbers say so far.

The Numbers
In 14 games with the Padres, Ryan Ludwick has batted .275, slugged .510 and driven in 8.

In that same span, Ludwick’s replacement in RF, Jon Jay, has hit .317, slugged .415 and driven in 4.

Jake Wesbrook, who we got in the deal for Luddy, has started 3 times for the Cardinals.  In those 3 games, he has a 1-0 record, pitched 19 innings (average of 6 1/3 innings per game), a 3.32 ERA, walked only 2, while striking out 19.

Looking at all of this, Ludwick has decent numbers.  It’s not MVP territory, but good solid numbers for a RF. At the moment, John Jay is outhitting him, (even with having an 0 for 3 yesterday), but as I said, it’s still early.  There’s no way to know if Jay will cool off down the stretch run, while Ludwick, as a veteran with the experience, may continue to stay hot from time to time.

Westbrook has proven to be a good performer so far, but 3 games is a very small sample size.  What will he be like down the stretch?  Can he be that postseason wildcard that Jeff Weaver was for us in 2006?

The Intangibles
As always, there are the intangibles that numbers don’t give you.  Some in the Cardinal organization feel that Ludwick gone has taken the pressure of Colby Rasmus, now that he knows he will be starting every day instead of being platooned.  Whether or not our favorite southern boy, Colby, is feeling more relaxed or not, in the 3 games following Ludwick’s departure west, he went 6 for 12.  Ludwick is also known to be a very streaky hitter and the problem with that is there’s no way to tell right now whether that’s good or bad in considering the trade.  Will he heat up at just the right time in the playoff push or slump a little bit in the upcoming month?

There’s also the salary considerations.  Ryan Ludwick was going to be a free agent at the end of this year and likely to get traded anyway.  He would be eligible for arbitration and going to be able to demand quite a bit more money.  Something we are pretty tight on at the moment, considering the money we plunked down for Matt Holliday and the money you would HOPE they are ready to plunk down for Pujols, who is approaching the end of his contract, after the club option next year.  So you really have to consider his benefit to the club this year and not what he would do next year.

The What-If
And one of the greatest intangibles of all at this point…..we could potentially see the Padres and Ryan Ludwick in a post season game.  If he hits a series winning home run against us, suddenly the trade isn’t looking so good.

My Conclusion
So according to the numbers it’s working out for us so far, but my gut still says we should have gotten more for Ludwick.  I know it was probably time for him to go since he’d be gone at the end of the season anyway and Westbrook has been solid thus far, but I wish we would have gotten more thrown in besides “cash considerations.”  A decent 3rd baseman would have gone a long way to alleviate my concerns about the trade.

The game that started this discussion in the first place showed us that…..what we’re lacking is a quality 3rd baseman not a right fielder.  Holliday, Rasmus and Jay are a very solid outfield.  But there is not one decent 3rd baseman in the bunch.  Felipe Lopez has been ok, but he’s not an ideal big league 3rd baseman by a long shot.  Plus, if he slumps (as he has been) or needs a rest, who are his backups?  Allen Craig?  Aaron Miles?  Come on.  These are great bench players or for filling in at 2nd, but we need someone with an arm that can hit for average.

With David Freese and Tyler Greene out, a 3rd baseman has been a desperate need for the Cardinals and I don’t know how that’s going to improve.  Freese is gone for the season and Greene’s return is unknown.  And expanding the rosters in September is not likely to bring in the calvary.

I definitely was sad to see Ludwick go though.  He seemed to be a great player and a great person in general.  I was able to meet him once in a restaurant in Missouri after he had been signing autographs locally with some other Redbirds and he was really nice.

Thoughts?  Are you still missing Ludwick or have you come to terms with the deal?  Do you think Westbrook will be the starter we need or do you think we were fine with the Loshe / Suppan / Hawksworth combo?

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