2014 Reds

Knowing when to Cut Bait

I’m only just starting this and it feels mean. I don’t like writing that I think a player should be cut, but I try to be honest with myself, and if I’m being honest, Ryan Ludwick needs to go.

Two years ago, Ludwick signed a two-year extension. At the time, I didn’t mind it. I thought odds were it would be an okay deal. Not great, but not terrible. I had hold of some numbers that convinced me that San Diego really had messed with his numbers. Then, as you all know, he blew out his shoulder and he hasn’t been the same since. And so, we are faced with some hard facts.

Ryan Ludwick’s value comes from his power.

Ryan Ludwick is 35. An age at which power declines rapidly.

He’s coming off a shoulder injury that can also sap power.

In the half season he’s managed to play since he signed the extension, Ludwick is hitting .243/.309/.332.

Time to cut bait.

I don’t know Ryan Ludwick. He’s probably a reasonable┬áhuman being. I do know that the one thing he’s ever been able to do at a truly major league level is hit. Mostly for power. He doesn’t run. He’s not much of a fielder. But he can hit. That’s been the line. Except now he can’t.

I get that Ryan Ludwick is making a lot of money, but frankly, I have a hard time believing the Reds would be worse off with Donald Lutz (or whoever else) in left every day. This team has a lot of issues, but Ludwick is the biggest one. Every other starter brings some real skill to the table and indeed, Ludwick is the only starter producing at below replacement level (-0.1 fWAR currently). He’s followed closely by Jay Bruce’s injured knee at 0.0, but the difference between those two is about nine years and a lot of talent.

It’s still relatively early, but the Reds have fallen off the pace. If they want to contend this year, they need to make the call soon and go for it. If they want to go for it, they need someone else in left.

96 thoughts on “Knowing when to Cut Bait

  1. He is probably safe until the all star break. That is sufficient to see if June’s warmth can help his cold cold cold spell.

    I would rather see big Lutz hitting 243 in left field because when he does run into the ball it goes.

    I mentioned yesterday (and last year) that I would like to see Meso get abs in LF as well.

    Why we would run out the cast of characters in LF when we need to get Meso abs and keep him fresh. I would play Meso 4 days in LF and let him catch 3 per week as hot as he is.

  2. Spot on, Jason. I’m not sure that the Reds need to completely dump Ludwick’s contract, but his role needs to change. Based on the utility personel available on the 25-man roster, Ludwick would probably be a bench upgrade (an expensive bench upgrade, but the cost is already sunk). Bernadina (.136/.296/.182) needs to be FDA’d and released as opposed to Ludwick (.246/.326/.339). The Reds would lose some flexibility in the OF. Ludwick has no speed and is an average corner OF at best, but in a strictly limited role as a pinch hitter, Ludwick >>> Bernadina. Heisey and Schumaker provide the flexibility needed as utility OF.

    The Big Lutz would almost certainly provide more production in LF as a starter than Ludwick and the upside to a major league tryout right now for Lutz would be a better understanding of his capability to handle the starting LF role going into 2015. If Lutz excels, the Reds found their diamond. He Lutz struggles, the Reds know that they need to look for another option to fill LF in 2015. In addition, if the Reds promote Lutz now, he can fill the vacancy at 1B as a starter until Votto returns from the DL.

    • Just to clarify, the Old Cossack thought the deal, to bring Ludwick back in 2013, was a spectacular decision by WJ and would have turned out as one of his best decisions had the shoulder injury not derailed the tail end of Ludwick’s career. WJ seems snake-bit when it comes to injuries on what appears to be excellent, cost-effective FA signings, but I suppose that’s an inherent risk in signing aging FA..

    • Cossack: As you and Jason both point out, Ludwick is a purely one-dimensional player. As painful as it is to watch Bernadina at bat, he can run and field and play anywhere in the outfield. Ditto for Heisey. I don’t know that the Reds can afford (roster spot, not bucks because the bucks are spent, as you say) a bench player with one declining skill. Mes in left is intriguing, too. I’m always surprised at how well he runs, and playing there would likely lengthen his career.

      • Power hitting LF’ers are easy to find – or they should be. It looks like Lutz might be a long term answer there sooner than later. If not we have other OF prospects coming up. Being able to get good offensive production from a major league caliber catcher like Mes is much harder. Most of the time catchers are converted to OF’s because they simply can’t master the defense of catching at a big league level. Mes may not be a GG catcher, but he’s very good. Barnhart is better – possibly GG caliber defensively – but the jury’s still out on whether or not he’ll be a good hitter. We went all in on Mes when we traded Grandal, and rightly so from the looks of things right now. Barnhart could be a really interesting trading chip in the near future if he starts hitting at AAA.

  3. Jason, I applaud you for you honesty. It seems that never much time goes by here that someone doesn’t list the Ludwick deal as one of Walt Jocketty’s terrible shortcomings. They quickly forget that nearly everyone shared your opinion at the end of 2012 that the Ludwick signing was a slight overpay but had some upside. That obviously ended on Opening Day last year, which is a darn shame but not something that could have been predicted by Jocketty.

    I think the Ole Cossack may be onto something if Ludwick is wiling to take on a lesser role. I hope that, unlike Rolen, he would be open to such a situation.

    My view of Ludwick, perhaps unfairly, will always be tainted by his ill-advised comments about Reds fans last year. I have a sneaking suspicion that he actually meant what he said rather than just speaking out of the frustration of the end of last year.

  4. Jason, I completely agree. But who would take him, and would the Reds really eat that cost? They’ve not ate the cost for Hannahan (a much cheaper cost to eat) yet, so I don’t think they’d do it for Ludwick. At the end of the day, the Reds have a lot of dead weight on the roster, but I would cut/send down Bernadina, Soto, Hannahan, and Santiago before I’d cut Ludwick. At the very least his OBP is a tick above league average, so he’s giving you quality AB’s, which is more than we can say for some.

    • The big difference is that Hannahan is seen as their utility guy off the bench while Ludwick is being counted on as your nearly every day LF. That’s too much dead weight to carry, higher sunk cost notwithstanding.

      I agree with the Ole Cossack that this would be a good opportunity to try out Lutz to see how he can help. It really can’t be worse for the team. Both Lutz and the team have spent a lot of time making adjustments for him to develop after last year’s call up. I would view any call up now as a short term tryout to see how his adjustments are working. If Lutz doesn’t succeed, I wouldn’t be too worried yet. He’s young and can continue to refine in AAA. But they have to try something to fill the black hole.

      • The big difference is 12mil vs 3mil to me. Ludwick is set to make 7.5mil this year with a 4.5mil buy out next year (deferred w/o interest), and Hannahan is set to make 1mil this year with a 2mil buy out next year. The difference, 9mil, is a lot to eat on a club like the Reds. Ludwick brings a few things to the table, solid OBP, good club house presence. Hannahan brings very little, if anything. Hannahan is cheaper to get rid of and easier to replace as a bench option.

        I’d be fine with cutting bait with both of them. But realistically I don’t see the Reds eating 12mil (or whatever it amounts to after almost a 1/3 of the season). If they can find a willing taker, then by all means make that move even if all you get back is a bag of peanuts.

        Regardless, Lutz should be up on the team at this point.

        • Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we cut Ludwick but rather relegate him to the bench. Lord knows he’s an upgrade over what we have now. And, I don’t think he’s a realistic trade candidate. Is there any team out there looking for his bat and glove?

        • How do you know that Hannahan doesn’t bring good club house presence? Another quality he brings is versatility, as does Santiago. I like Ludwick, actually, but at this point he is a pinch-hitter, and little more.

        • You don’t “eat” the 9 mil difference. It’s a sunk cost. The money is spent. No matter what decision is made, the Reds will not spend or “lose” any extra money. What they lose is Ludwick’s maginal utility, which, at this point, is low.

          So, either you can try to get production in LF, or not get production in LF. We saw Ludwick’s current ceiling in April. A good BABIP month for him, which consisted almost entirely of singles.

          Money is not even in the conversation, IMO.

        • GREENMTRED: I don’t know anything about Hannahan’s clubhouse presence. If he does have great clubhouse presence (something I’ve seen referenced to Ludwick but not to Hannahan) then that would be in the “little he brings”. He certainly doesn’t provide much with the bat or on the field. Coming back from injury I expect even less. His versatility (1B and 3B) is same as Soto (actually less so if Soto can in fact play some back up C) but for more money. Chris Nelson would provide the same, or more, versatility cheaper.

          JDX19: You eat the difference if you “cut” him which is the premise of the top post. It is a sunk cost unless you find a trade partner. I doubt there is one out there. So everything I’ve said is based on the premise of “cutting bait” with Ludwick. Money has to be in the conversation because he’ll get extra opportunities based on how much they’re paying him. They’ll give him extra time even with poor performance because they hope to see some return on their investment. They won’t DFA him because of what they’re on the hook for, unlike a Bernadina who they’d cut loose (and have once) because they’re not paying him much, therefore the loss isn’t great.

        • But the point is they don’t HAVE to keep playing him in hopes of getting a return on the investment. Sure they’d LIKE to get a return on their investment, but sometimes you make investments that end up being bad and you don’t get that return. Continuing to play him regularly because you’d really really like him to get better isn’t a smart way to run a baseball team. In fact, if he continues to play at the level he’s at now he’s actually costing you wins (-0.1 WAR) so he’s compounding your wasted money. It’s like if you bought a stock that kept losing value and then that stock also came over to your house and stole your TV.

        • I realize they don’t have to keep playing him. But if history shows anything, they will. GMs don’t like to be wrong on investments and typically give a player a longer leash. I would like to see him relegated to the bench if they can’t trade him (which I don’t think they can). The only issue is we don’t have much in way of replacement. Heisey’s not much better so far and has consistently struggled more when he plays more. Maybe Schumaker will get things going, he at least has been able to get on base at a good clip through his career.

  5. I have some hope that Ludwick’s slow start is a product of sitting out most of last year and finding his swing again–rather than a product of his age. He was not much of a hitter in 2012 until June when he suddenly took off and gave the Reds 3 productive months.

    The problem is that there are few alternatives. You can stare at Lutz’s 2014 AA numbers all you want, but it’s still a small sample size and it’s still AA.

    And the problem with going out and getting someone else is that with the extra WC team, nobody thinks they are out of it anymore. If this year is like last year, there will be few players available until the deadline–and maybe not many even then, as teams choose to roll the dice and keep fans coming through the turnstiles.

  6. Seems a bit extreme knee jerk reaction to a player that apparently has a new injury than the one last year. he was adequate at the beginning of the month hitting about .270, go back 2 years ago about this time and see what people were saying about Ludwick. He should come around if he is healthy.
    You cannot cut just to cut if the roster is so poor that you can bring a player off the DL after 2 weeks or so following knee surgery and not even play him, it shows you what is waitings in the wings is not so impressive.
    I agree Lutz probably should be up, but are his stats going to be that much more than the worst of Ludwick? Why not start with Bernadina, Soto, Marshall, the guy not good enough to get called up to replace Votto this week.
    It almost seems like you hoping that Ludwick reads this and gets inspired. The real issue is they need to juggle their 40 man roster, scout the waiver wire for someone that can produce at least a .200 BA and makes several changes before Ludwick can even be considered to be cut.

    • There’s a difference between 33 years old and 35 years old. Once you’re in that range, each year is exponentially worse when it comes to aging.

  7. I agree that Left Field is a huge problem for the Reds, but I don’t know that it’s on Ludwick entirely, or that the Reds should cut him.

    As sad as it is, Ludwick is still outhitting both Heisey and Shumaker. Shumaker also plays bad outfield defense. Do you really think the Reds should cut bait with a guy to get worse offense and a little better defense in the least important defensive position?

    If anyone, ANYONE, in the case of characters in the outfield was actually hitting, then it would be a lot more clear. But they just aren’t.

    Outfield OPS:

    Bruce: .715
    Ludwick: .665
    Hamilton: .645
    Heisey: .629
    Shumaker: .629
    Bernadina: .478

    Maybe the answer is Lutz, he’s certainly off to a good start. But before we anoint him as the savior, remember that we’re talking about a 25 year old in his first year at AAA. He was an undrafted free agent. He started this year at AA for the third time. He is not a top prospect.

    Stranger things have happened, and I wish Lutz all the luck in the world, but I would be shocked if he ever has much success at the major league level.

    • It really doesn’t matter if they cut him or bench him. The point is that Ludwick shouldn’t be playing everyday. I might write something about how bad the bench has been later. Where the Reds outfield is concerned…

      Bruce has been hurt, but certainly will provide value. I think we all know that.

      Heisey and Hamilton aren’t the best hitters, but their defensive and baserunning components make them overall positive contributors.

      Ludwick is a replacement level player. Almost by definition, that means you can find someone just as good as him for free. With a little effort, it should be possible to find a player who can provide some offensive value.

      • I think we’re just right back where we were a few years ago, where they are just going to play everyone and see if anyone can get hot. I totally agree that Heisey is probably a little better overall than Ludwick, but the amount is very marginal at this point.

        My point is that arguing that someone with a .629 OPS needs to be playing every day based on their left field defense isn’t very compelling.

      • I think the thread is wearing pretty thin on Heisey. Right now it looks like Price would play either Schumaker or Bernadina ahead of Heisey in CF. Heisey is being paid a little less than $2M to run into fastballs in leveraged situations and he’s not done that lately.

      • I guess I have a problem with the reaction to cut him, like that will solve any of the team’s problems. He has a better slash line than any of those sluggers sent out yesterday, sure he is overpaid, injured, not producing, but he probably will So I have no problem playing Hamilton and Bruce over him, but he should at least be in the mix and definitley kept for bench help should the Reds get back in the race. Has Ludwick really been an everday outfielder this season anyway?

        • Yes. When he’s not been taking a day off b/c of a tweak here or there and not having a schedueld day-off, he’s been in the lineup.

  8. We can talk about this all we want but Ludwick is Walt’s guy. He’s not going anywhere. Walt would have Price ride him into the ground this year and I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if he offered him a 1 year deal and invited him to Arizona next season.

    • I don’t think even Walt will pay 4.5 million for Ludwick’s option.

      He would do so for a 280/330/470 85 RBI player but we are not seeing that from Ryan this year

      • I forgot he even had an option for 2015. I revise my last statement: Walt Jockety will absolutely invite Ryan Ludwick to Arizona next season. I’d bet money on it.

  9. I’m not against bring up Lutz or shaking the trees for a replacement guy in LF but I think I’d hold onto Ludwick for the bench. I also agree they have too many outfielders who can’t do anything else off the bench like give them a few innings at a corner IF position or maybe 2B.

    • Starting to really smack of the end of Rolen’s tenure. I remember when he got hurt towards the latter half of his last season with us there was a lot of talk about how he might retire to spare Walt from having to bench or cut him. He didn’t, Walt didn’t, and Rolen played out the season at a pretty low level (HOF caliber defense aside). The same thing’s going to happen here. Ludwick may see a few more days off than he’s used to, but he’s going to start 75% of the rest of 2014 in LF no matter what numbers he puts up. Price isn’t going to rock the boat with Walt.

  10. I do hope that as the 2 month mark approaches that the Reds get off their hands and start making some moves. Soto and Bernadina are dead weight and cost us nothing. Both should be released and replaced ASAP.

  11. This post sounds suspiciously like the “Brandon Phillips is done” post that Steve posted about a month into the season….

    • Phillips OPS the last 4 years: .810, .750, .706, .700

      I think saying that Phillips’ defense is declining was premature, but there’s a pretty easy argument to make that his offense is declining rapidly.

      • OPS is a pretty lousy stat to use to track decline. How about his wRC+ over those years: 104, 122, 101, 91.

        As I’ve pointed out over and over again, Phillips has been remarkably consistent his entire career with the Reds except in 2011 when he had a career year at the plate (aided in no small part by a very high BABIP) and 2013 when he had a career low year at the plate (aided in no small part by an injured wrist most of the season). This year after a very slow start he’s at 91, but in the last month he’s been at 118. When it’s all said and done this year I expect his wRC+ to be right around where it almost always is: 100. Some have pointed out that his ISO power numbers have been in steady decline for the last 4-5 years and that’s fair, but so have Votto’s. Anecdotal evidence aside, Phillips has been finding a way to accomodate that with other things to keep his wRC+ numbers steady. Now, I’m not exactly sure what those things ARE since his BB% hasn’t gone up like Votto’s, though he has been hitting more line drives. In any case, the headline of this post is The Reports of Brandon Phillips’ Decline Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.

        • I don’t think OPS is a lousy stat to use, it says exactly the same thing at the numbers you gave.

          OPS / wRC+

          2010: .762 / 104
          2011: .810 / 122
          2012: .750 / 101
          2013: .706 / 91
          2014: .700 / 91

          So you have a guy who was average for a while, had an above average year, and now has been below average for more than a year.

          It seems like you’re basing your opinion of Phillips on a month worth of data, because the 118 is the only thing that doesn’t go along with the story of decline.

        • Look at his career wRC+ numbers. Every year since he’s been a Red they’ve been right around 100 except for 2011 and 2013. I’m not counting less than 2 months of 2014 as any mark of his decline, because if you want to start doing that then you have to look at the last month as a sign of his miraculous resurgence. If we’re playing that game then Joey Votto is done and should hang up his cleats. It will even out by the end of the season and BP will be right around 100. Just watch. I’m not saying he’s going to do that forever, but I’d bet he has at least another year or 2 of the same level of performance.

        • Look at it this way: If in 2011 his BABIP had been at league average his wRC+ would have been just a hair over his career norm. If that was the case we’d be looking at a player who had put up nearly identacl numbers every year until a drop last year that was at least in part due to injury. One injury plagued year would not have people shouting DECLINE.

        • I guess it’s just a perspective thing. You see a guy who had a long time of being consistent, who had a blip good year and a blip bad year.

          I see a guy on the wrong side of the aging curve who’s blip bad year might not be a blip.

        • I’ve said before this season will tell us which it is. At 31 I just don’t see him falling off a cliff, but if he repeats his performance from last year or even declines further which some have predicted then I’ll be wrong. He was actually hitting very well last year before the wrist injury, though, so I feel like it’s a safe bet that he’ll rebound and he’s already showing signs of that. I don’t know what was going on with his plate approach in April. His SO% was way higher than it has ever been and his BB% was way lower. He seems to have corrected whatever was going on there and looks like his old self at the plate.

        • He’s not 31 Eric, he’s going to be 33 in a month. He’ll spend the majority of this season as a 33-year-old. Second Basemen fall off a cliff right around that age.

        • Sorry, was thinking of Votto turning 31 this year. My mistake. Still, I’ll put my money on him finishing the season right around 100 wRC+. When people cite “2nd basemen” falling off a cliff at a certain age they’re usually referring to their drop in defensive abilities causing a decline in WAR. So far I haven’t seen any decline in BP’s defense so we’re just talking about his batting. I don’t know why his position would effect when his hitting would decline.

        • The theory I read when I was working on the BP post (although I’m skeptical of this) is that 2B is a tough position physically, second most injuries after catcher. Mostly related to turning double plays. Those injuries take their toll on hitting, I guess. I’m not sure I buy that, though. The evidence for it affecting hitting was pretty thin. That said, the numbers for BP continue to trend downward. His only decent number this year is his batting average and that’s a product of his BABIP right now. His line drive rate is also up, so that’s a positive. But power is down, strikeouts up, walks down. It’s a long term trend for him.

        • Steve, I would only suggest that there was something clearly wrong with his approach the first month of this season. I don’t know if it was injury or just a mental thing, but I remember him getting a day off about 4 weeks ago and he has been MUCH better in the SO% department since then. It might be that Price sat him down and had a talk with him. His numbers in April were so crazily below his norms that logic says something else was going on. I can’t prove that, and if he regresses to that approach I’ll again be proven wrong but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • I never used the word done. I used the word decline. Please don’t deliberately mischaracterize me just to score a cheap point.

      I hope you’re not implying that Phillips has disproved what I wrote. You better check out the stats first (and it’s too early this year either way, anyhow). But Phillips stats in 2014 show continued decline in power (ISO down from .135 to .117) rise in strikeout percentage (from 14.7% to 19.3%) decline in walk rate (5.9% to 4.2%). And your Mr. RBI is on pace to drive in 60 runs this year (12 homers, down from 18). The only stat where BP is outperforming 2013 is batting average and that’s entirely BABIP driven (.281 to .331)

  12. And for the record, I would not be opposed to an upgrade at LF or SS, but I think of the two, Ludwick deserves the benefit of the doubt a little more.

    • Eh. It’s not about benefit of the doubt – the injury was a concrete incident that has clearly taken its toll. And his age only compounds that. Cozart, even when not hitting well, provides GG defense at a position that puts a high premium on defense over offense. And he can also hit just fine when he gets dialed in. I wouldn’t be opposed to upgrading both spots myself, but I’d be much more inclined to let Cozart play every day than Ludwick.

      • That’s the main difference in the Ludwick discussion in comparison to Phillips and Cozart: Both of them are plus caliber defenders. Even if (notice I said “if”, before anyone gets upset) Brandon loses a step or two, he’s still well above average. We all saw how important up the middle defense is during our extra inning extravaganza against Washington. Ludwick, however, has always been below average in the field. As far as the extension goes, maybe I’m the victim of revisionist history, but I thought there was strong opposition to it around here. I thought he had a fluke year and that we would be here sooner than later. The point is that this issue is squarely at the feet of management. Where is the help? After last year how could you not have prepared for a lack of power in the outfield corner? Heck, we should have had a capable fill in for Bruce as well. And no backup first baseman? Every team experiences injuries, but we have no plan in place to address it.

      • Agree. And Cozart’s bat has lately shown signs of dawning awareness, though I hate to say it aloud. He’d be much harder to replace than Ludwick.

    • The problem with Ludwick, is it’s not like he’s some established superstar. He first appeared in the league in 2002, and now, 12 years later, he’s put together 3 truly good seasons. Two of them were 2007, and 2008, and one was 2012 with the Reds.

      Age certainly makes it less likely for any player to have a truly good season, and Ludwick was a crapshoot to begin with anyway.

      • Ludwick is not an established superstar, but he is an established slugger who is now a question mark, due to age and injuries. A lot of people seem to regard his 275/.346/.531 in 2012 as a fluke. Not so. Over 4 seasons with the Cardinals, he hit .280/.349/.507. At San Diego he ruined his swing, that can happen in San Diego.

        The main point, which I make in more detail below, is that he can catch fire while playing on a part time basis. That’s what happened in 2012, when he wasn’t the everyday LFer until he heated up in June.

        • He was also 28-31 in St Louis. Now he’s 35 (36 in July) with a surgically repaired shoulder. 5-7 years is a long time in MLB. When Pujols was 28-31, he hit .323/.421/.611 with two MVPs. The last two years he hit .263/.329/.472. I don’t think he’s going to get back to his old form just from getting older and having shoulder surgery.

  13. I’d argue that the biggest problem with this team is the bullpen, not Ludwick, but yes, he’s also pretty dang bad. Even Cozart has 0.4 WAR and he had about as horrible of a start to the season as anyone can have. (Though surprisingly if you take away the first 5 games of the season, Cozart’s hit .260/.302/.359, which while the power is lower than you’d expect, is very very passable for a SS who’ll probably get close to 2 WAR just from defense alone.)

    So that definitely makes Ludwick the piece that needs replaced. Are there any bad teams out there with a good outfielder?

    • There is no doubt that the bullpen is the biggest problem on this team, and that LF is the biggest problem with the offense.

    • There is at least one upgrade coming to the bullpen when Latos returns. I don’t know who is going to be eliminated. I have the same concerns about Marshall that are being pointed out about Ludwick – injury and age have reduced their effectiveness.

    • Well I’d say the biggest problem with this team is the lack of offense which leads us to have to lean on our horrible bullpen more often than we should. If we were scoring more runs earlier in games, it would be easier to keep our very good (and luck) starters in longer and our suspect bullpen wouldn’t be exposed as often. Most bullpens are filled with marginal pitchers – that’s how they end up as relievers. If you have a starting rotation as good as ours you should be able to keep them out of the games as much as possible But that means you have to hit. AL’s a different story.

      • Your point about the poor offense affecting the bullpen is well-taken, but even if the Reds were a juggernaught, the bullpen would be pitching 2 or 3 innings most days. Complete games are a rarity.

  14. He’s always been a slow starter. Yes, he is better than Lutz out there, probably even defensively if I recall correctly from last year. We got absolutely zero from LF last year and did OK. Let’s try to get the starting 8 healthy and on the field together for a bit before doing crazy things like dumping Ludwick for Lutz.

  15. Logic says this:
    Reduce Ludwick to a bench role until he proves he can be an offensive asset 4 plate appearances a night. He is a better option on the bench than:
    Bernadina
    Heisey
    Soto

    Bernadina has already been DFA’d once so the Reds must already see him as the most expendable both from a talent issue and economic loss. Might as well DFA him a second time.

    So… Call up lutz to fill in LF and 1b let him be your everyday since he is a regarded prospect.
    Keep heisey to warm bench and backup of
    Ludwick warm bench backup of
    Keep soto for backup 1b and last bench option

    When Votto returns send down or release Soto

  16. Speaking of underperforming outfielders, Grady Sizemore is ‘hitting’ .218/.293/.336 in 133 plate appearances. I would’ve hated to have Hamilton stuck at AAA while we wasted a third of the season on that.

    Given Ludwick’s penchant for getting hot as the season progresses and with the bum knee, I’m willing to bet on him. His potential upside is higher than Heisey.

    • It’s too soon to know how Sizemore will end up faring vs. Hamilton. Their production so far is similar. But it sure would have been nice to have the depth of another experienced OF signed, given the injuries and non-performance (Ludwick, Heisey), whether that be Sizemore or someone else.

      • Their production has not been similar. Their offensive production has been similar. However, Sizemore has generate -0.2 WAR this year, whereas Hamilton sits at 0.7. That is very much not the same.

    • OPS

      SIzemore: .629

      Hamilton: .645
      Heisey: .629
      Shumaker: .629
      Bernadina: .478

      Hamilton has been better, but I’d much rather have Sizemore than Bernadina.

      • Exactly, I wanted Sizemore for depth, and still wish the Reds got him.

        And it should be pointed out that OPS does not capture Hamlton’s offensive contribution. For starters, count every Hamilrun – his getting on and scoring without a base hit to move him along – as a home run, and see what that does to his OPS.

    • Grady Sizemore is a no good toolbag. Happy to see him struggling and Billy growing and maturing.

  17. As for a trade for a LFer, As Richard pointed out, there are very few teams out of it at this early juncture. It may have to be with a team that is still kicking, so a trade will have to be one that helps out both teams immediately. Of the out of it teams, record-wise, that looks to be only Houston and Arizona. I don’t think we can count out Tampa and Pittsburgh yet.
    There are a couple of compelling players on those teams.
    In Arizona, there is Gerardo Parra (LH), in his 6th ML season, but his numbers are a bit down. He makes $4.8M this year. I am not sure if he is a FA after this season.
    There is Cody Ross (RH), he’s in the 2nd year of a 3 yr./ $26M deal. His numbers are way off, lower.
    And Martin Prado (RH), he’s in the 2nd year of a 4 yr./ $40M deal.
    In Houston, there is Dexter Fowler. Somebody on here is a big Dexter fan as I rercall. Fowler is in the last year of a 2 yr./ $ 11.6M deal. The Astros aren’t going anywhere soon. This might be just the guy WJ should focus on. He just turned 28. He is 6’4″, I thought he was a little guy. He has speed. He is slashing .267/.372/.385, 117 wRC+, 13.8 BB%, 19.7 K% in 188 PA’s.

    • Unless Ludwick breaks down and is unable to play I just don’t see Walt making a deal for his replacement. Walt will play him and platoon maybe with others already on the team, but I just don’t get the vibe that Walt would even consider making a move for a LF as long as Ludwhick can lace them up and play.

    • I definitely wouldn’t mind adding Fowler, but I just don’t know what we have to offer. Then again I have no idea what the plan is in Houston and haven’t for years. I don’t know why they would trade for Fowler as a pretty short term rental when they’re so far away from having anything like a contending club. So who knows what they would want in return. I might be surprised.

      • Houston gave up to Colorado SP Jordan Lyles, who pitched against the Reds in that 11-2 loss, and OF Brandon Barnes, their backup CF. Maybe the Reds could help ease Houston’s pain on that one just a little. Or Houston watches him walk after the season and they only got one year for that. That was a steep price. They won’t get any draft pick compensation either, as they certainly wouldn’t extend Fowler a qualifying offer that’ll be around $14M. Could they get a prospect back for Fowler and could the Reds be the team to make an offer? He has some good speed, a little power, but his OBP and switch-hitting could help ease the Reds pain of losing Choo.

      • We have OF and pitching prospects. 3 of our top 6 (or so depends on who you ask) prospects are OF’ers in Rodriguez, Winker, and Ervin. On top of that we have Lutz, Duran, Arias, LaMarre, Waldrop, and Elizalde as OF prospects coming down the pike, and that’s not counting guys that could contribute in the Majors at some point such as Amaral, Silva, Bryson Smith, and even Jeff Gelalich (former 1st rd comp pick).

        With Hamilton and Bruce signed at least through 2017 we probably have some wiggle room in the OF for the near future in regards to prospects.

        As far as pitchers go, and it gets dicier projecting pitchers, Stephenson, Lorenzen, and Moscot all project as starters moving forward and all three (especially the latter two) are off to really good starts in AA. Travieso is having a great start in Dayton as well, and Ben Lively has been off the charts good in Bakersfield. On top of that Contreras, Guillon, Garrett, and Holmberg add depth to that group (as well as a few others).

        If Walt wanted to offer an enticing package of prospects to a team not expecting to truly contend in the next few years, one could be made pretty easily picking one or two from that group to land a quality bat. Now whether or not we go that route…well…

  18. It’s too soon to cut bait with Ludwick. In his 2012 season with the Reds, he batted .190/.266/.397 in April and .224/.321/.388 in May. He then hit 20 HRs in June, July, August. I’m not expecting a repeat of that, but he’s a notoriously slow starter and hot weather hitter.

    I’m definitely in favor of limiting his role, playing him just enough to show if he’s getting hot. He was not an everyday guy in the Reds lineup at the start of 2012 – he started 13 games in April and 14 games in May. He was able to get going while playing part time.

    • This is where I’m at too. Excellent analysis as always Pinson. Wish we would see more of you around here. Hope you are well.

      • Hi Charlotte, good to hear from you. Thank you I am well, hope you are too. Today I received my Redleg Nation t-shirt, cap, and cooler, just in time to wear on a visit to Boston (but not Fenway) this weekend. (Thanks Steve.)

        I’m just in a time crunch these days. I do post – late at night or early morning – on the recap thread when I can.

        • I know we are on different time schedules but I check your out posts.

          Received the same Regleg Nation gear and was impressed. I’m proud to wear my hat and my lovely wife is sporting the t-shirt. Life is about compromise as I’m sure you know.

  19. The only way to resolve a difference of opinion is to see it played out on the field. Unfortunately, fans do not make the decisions and I say that only because we are debating our ideas without any control of the implementation. All we can do is support our ideas with data, hypothesis & supposition. In fact, none of us may even be close to identifying the best option, if any option can even be classified as a best option.

    In 2013, Ludwick put up a -0.7 WAR in 140 PA.
    In 2014, Ludwick put up a -0.3 WAR in 138 PA.

    In 2013, Lutz put up a -0.1 WAR in 56 PA.

    None of those results are even close to being acceptable, not to mention good. There is no question that Ludwick’s results were injury and age impacted for both 2013 & 2014. The question is can Ludwick produce better results during the 2nd half of 2014 and can Lutz produce better results in 2014 than he did in 2013.

    If Ludwick’s struggles were strictly related to tuning his hitting stroke after a slow start, I might expect more during the 2nd half, but Ludwick is hitting better with less power than he did before his shoulder injury. Through May 21st of 2012, Ludwick was only hitting .198, but had a SLG of .374. Through May 21 of 2014, Ludwick is actually hitting significantly better at .246 but has a SLG of .339. Now to compound Ludwick’s reduced power, he has a knee injury at his age 36 season and the knee injury will almost certainly inhibit his power even more. I just think all indications point to Ludwick being finished.

    When Lutz was called up from AA in 2013 for his 1st trip to the show, he was hitting only .211 with a 24.7% SO% in AA. I can only assume that Lutz was promoted based on Dusty’s recommendation or request because Dusty simply loved Lutz’ overly aggressive approach at the plate during spring training. This season, Lutz had a BA of .360 with a 17.5% SO% in AA. Lutz has now been to the show once before and knows what to expect. I might be completely off base, but Lutz looks much better equipped to produced at least acceptable results, if not good results at the major league level than he was in 2013.

    The Old Cossack just doesn’t see any other viable internal options than Lutz, so why not roll the dice and give the kid a shot. Maybe…just maybe…

    • 100% with you but the guy to send down is Soto not Ludwick. Forget the 3rd (emergency) catcher, Soto’s presence is not worth it.. If it came to it, I bet Leake would wear “the tools of ignorance” for a couple of innings in the unlikely case of it being necessary. Bring the kid up and bring Jumbo with him.

      • I agree on Soto. I would also DFA Bernadina. Heisey and Schumaker can cover the OF spots if we needed it. I would rather see Barnhart up here (and suggested as much before they sent him down) than Soto if we need a 3rd C so Pena and Mesoraco can PH on their off days. Swap out Lutz and Barnhart for Soto and Bernadina and I think we have a much better bench.

  20. Talk about bad luck: looks like the Rangers have lost Prince Fielder and Jurickson Profar for the season. Wow!

    • Was Fielder’s herniated disc disclosed at time of signing from Detroit. Something like that doesn’t lead to season ending surgery over night. If he had a back issue while at Detroit and it was not disclosed Texas could effectively pawn the entire salary off on Detroit right?

  21. Wow, this is crazy. Ludwick is one of the best bats in this lineup and I trust him more from the neck up than most players on the team, too. I think this team is pretty good and has shown it but needs to play smarter at the plate.

    Bryan Price has mismanaged the staff pretty much but I can’t imagine how easy it would be for an above-average starter to get through the Reds lineup without Ludwick. Bruce falls for the same okey doke every time, a low fastball away or a changeup inside. It’s May, anyway. Jay is horrible for months at a time and between puts up good numbers. That’s baseball. Let’s not jump ship yet.

  22. Given that no other team is likely to want Ludwick, I agree that a spot coming off the bench makes more sense than a full release. And I further believe it more likely that Lutz will do well given a chance at LF for the Reds than that Ludwick will get hot with the weather. So… send Soto down, call up Lutz, move Ludwick to bolster the bench and give Lutz a couple month’s starts in left. He can’t be much worse than year to date from that spot (I know, famous last words) and at the very least the Reds will find out if he might be viable there for 2015. I seriously doubt Ludwick will be the answer in left this year or next, and I hope the Reds don’t play him there enough for us to even find out. Free Lutz (and Jumbo)!

  23. Reds sign Matt Maloney to a minor league contract. Not sure if anyone remembers him from a few years back but he is a Lefty starting pitcher. I think he is 30 years old and has half way decent stuff. Maybe the Reds intend to convert him to a reliever and have him be the future replacement for dead arm Marshall?

  24. This team has a lot bigger problems than Ryan Ludwick. He may be 35, but I don’t think he’s done. I think he has a good run in him. The guy that I’ve given up on is Chris Heisey. He just can’t handle being an everyday player. Dusty Baker was right on him. He’s a platoon, pinch hitter type. Roger Bernandina just simply can’t hit, and Donald Lutz is a has big power, but little contact.

    Walt needs to upgrade the roster…yes. But it would be crazy to cut Ludwick.
    C-R-A-Z-Y

  25. I don’t think Ludwick is the biggest issue this team has by a long shot. The biggest issue is the lack of hitters on this team, including Ludwick.

    But, as far as Ludwick goes, I entirely agree. Essentially, this being his last year on his extension, he’s playing for a contract. And, he hasn’t yet come around. I do believe most anyone else out there would be just as good in LF. I mean, take your pick. Heisey, more speed and better defense, but he’s lost his bat since ST. Schumacher, maybe a better contact hitter, a left hander, but lose power. Lutz, he just got called up.

    I agree with some of the others. Ludwick is probably safe until mid-season. Then, the Reds will decide, whether we’re in the race or not. I just don’t think Ludwick is in our future.

    • I definitely don’t see Ludwick in a Reds uniform next season, unless we get a royal discount and we have no “plan B” for LF. But, I can’t see us not having a plan B for LF. And, I don’t think Ludwick will give much of a discount. Mid-season at the earliest, most likely not here next season.

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