On Friday night July, 30 2010 the Cardinals were in the midst of a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the 10th inning when Ryan Ludwick led off the Cardinals half with a sharp double down the left field line. After a Yadier Molina sacrifice bunt followed by a Brendan Ryan hit Ludwick crossed the plate for the game winning run bringing a smile to my face and the anticipation of Ludwick being in the lineup for the next evenings game with the Pirates which I was attending. That Friday night’s pinch-hitting appearance would be the last time I would see Ryan Ludwick in a Cardinal uniform.
The next morning as I had my morning coffee Ludwick was included in a three team deal that sent him to the Padres and brought Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals. I’ve purposely waited to write this so I would have a clear train of thought and not be caught up in the moment. As we’ve heard the reason behind the trade was the obvious need for starting pitching along with the fact Jon Jay and Allen Craig have shown the ability to step in and produce at the big league level. And let’s face it, Jay and Craig have nothing left to prove at the AAA level. With the impending negotiations to re-sign our superstar Albert Pujols on the horizon this coming winter Ludwick seemed like the odd man out. He had an almost guaranteed raise coming via arbitration hearing which may have pushed the Cardinals past their comfort level as far as payroll is concerned.
In a perfect world we would have just exchanged prospects for the likes of a Roy Oswalt or a Dan Haren but the truth of the matter is we have a farm system that’s in a rebuilding mode of sorts and thus didn’t have the sought after players needed to complete a deal. That’s why it took the Padres as a third team in the deal to supply the prospects needed to get the deal done for Westbrook.
Looking at this trade on the surface it honestly sucks for Cardinal fans. We just traded one of our most clutch players for an average starting pitcher. When hearing from Mo and Tony regarding the trade they both explained they didn’t see this team playing in October without adding a starting pitcher. We more than likely won’t see Brad Penny again and can’t really count on Kyle Lohse to be more than an alright number five upon his return. In other words we could stand pat and rely on a combination of Lohse, Suppan and Hawksworth to fill the 4 and 5 spots or make the only trade available to us.
After watching Jake Westbrook pitch against the Astros on Monday night I saw a lot of really good things. He showed good command with velocity in the low 90′s and a good power sinker. He’s a ground ball pitcher which fits well with Dave Duncan’s philosophy. Overall I think he’s a good fit for the staff and let’s remember he’s pitched his entire career with Cleveland aside from a cup of coffee with the Yankees. Coming to St. Louis in the heat of a pennant race in combination with working with Dunc and the rest of the staff could be just what the doctor ordered for Jake so to speak.
Losing Luddy at a moment’s notice was tough for Cardinal fans. Ryan Ludwick is the model of what it means to ‘Play Like A Cardinal.’ He always gave us everything he had on the field while being a stand up guy off the field. There’s no more ‘Team Studwick’ in St. Louis but I think it’s safe to say Cardinal Nation wishes him all the best in San Diego.