Good grief, I hope this turns out to be a false alarm, but…

Ken Rosenthal is tweeting that the Reds have agreed with left fielder Ryan Ludwick on a one-year deal, with a mutual option for 2013.

I guess it could be worse, but friends and neighbors, Ryan Ludwick isn’t as good as you think he is. Likely to be below average in 2012.

No reason to get upset about it; I think Chris Heisey is likely to be better in 2012, but the difference isn’t going to be huge. I just think it was an unnecessary signing…and I think people remember the Ludwick of age 29, not the current age 33 version. Not the same player.

UPDATE: One year for $2.5 million, according to reports.

UPDATE 2: Chris Heisey, age 26: 113 OPS+
Ryan Ludwick, age 32, 90 OPS+

Only way I really like this deal is if Ludwick is really just a glorified fourth outfielder on this team.

UPDATE 3: File this under “It could be worse”: Best thing about Ryan Ludwick is that he doesn’t spell his name “J-u-a-n P-i-e-r-r-e” or “R-i-c-k A-n-k-i-e-l.”

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

Join the conversation! 79 Comments

  1. Oh Redleg Faithful, meet your (not so)new everyday Left Fielder…Christopher Heisey!

  2. per MLB trade rumors, Ludwick hits righties better than lefties despite being a righty. So we have a 26 year old Chris Heisey and 32 year old Chris heisey with less athleticism and less power.

  3. What was the point of this? I’d rather Frazier get those ABs

  4. a former Cardinal? There’s a shock.

    Momma always said if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. I thought about it really, really hard and have some nice things to say:

    1. He doesn’t have a red thing on his chin.
    2. He doesn’t have Cub stink.
    3. He’s not a third catcher.
    4. Did I mention he doesn’t have a red thing on his chin?

  5. Not sure what the Reds Nation was looking for unless we dealt a starter. In my opinion, it could have been worse and we still have the starters we were expecting. Plus we still have some cash to make a mid-season signing if needed. He is going from playing in PETCO and PNC Bank Park to GABP…I would only hope his numbers go up.

  6. True, he didn’t cost us any trade chips. And we cannot say that Walt is standing pat this time around.

  7. I’m with Chad on the Ludwick signing. It could have been worse (Juan Pierre). It wasn’t that expensive. He’s not as good as Heisey. It’s OK if Ludwick starts out as the fourth OF.

    If Ludwick does hit like he did in 2008 (unlikely), we’ve found our right-handed clean-up hitter.

    This is a step backward in Dust-proofing the lineup. Baker will be tempted to play Ludwick too much. It will be interesting to see if Baker makes any announcements about Ludwick’s role. Has Ludwick’s had any children recently?

  8. Here’s a guy Dusty can love. Which is why it was a bad deal.

  9. I expected this move, especially given the budget constraints. The Reds needed another major league OFer, what available player was going to be better for $2.5 M ?

    I too am grateful it’s not Ankiel or Pierre.

    As long as Heisey is the starting LFer, this is OK with me. Ludwick does hit lefties better than Heisey, and in 2011 he hit lefties better than righties. So he’ll start against some lefties and he’s a bat off the bench.

  10. Prediction: Ludwick and Heisey will be within 50 plate appearances of each other. Ludwick will start more games in LF (and a couple in RF), but Heisey will spot Stubbs from time to time.

  11. He will win comeback player of the year. He was hitting .281 before going to petco and pnc sucks for right handed hitters too. Welcome to a hitters ballpark Ryan Ludwick.

  12. Ludwick will get a decent number of starts in LF, because Heisey can play all 3 OF positions and will be used to spell Stubbs and Bruce. And Heisey will not start against a lot of lefties.

  13. As uninspiring as this move is, I am totally OK with it. The Reds absolutely needed another Major League outfielder, and they weren’t really any clearly better options on the FA market. I think that this will allow Heisey his first real opportunity to play almost full-time, and will help the Reds evaluate what his future is. If he falls on his face, then they can use any money saved with this cheap signing to try and acquire someone midseason when teams are falling out of the race and more guys become available.

    On top of that, GABP has been the tonic to hitters seemingly on the downslope of their career. Hopefully Ludwick is able to replicate that feat. I honestly would not be surprised at all to get a combined 260/320/450 type line with near 30 homers and good defense combined between Heisey and Ludwick. I think we all would take that. Sure this doesn’t solve the #4 hole hitter which would have been the ultimate, but once Beltran was gone that boat had pretty much sailed away.

    On a side note, I was thinking about who the Reds might go after before this went down, and was thinking of a deal to acquire Michael Morse. If the Nationals end up signing Fielder, he may be a good guy to go after, especially midseason if the Nats are looking to bring up Harper. I was thinking a possible 3 way deal involving the Orioles and Adam Jones. Jones could be the CF that Washington has long been craving, we would get Morse, and the Orioles could get a nice package from us and and the Nats combined with us giving the meat of the Balt.package and the Nats throwing in a decent prospect. Something along the lines of Hamilton, Cingrani, Frazier/Francisco, + a decent Nats prospect to the Os. Plugging in 30+ homers with a decent average from the right side in between Votto and Bruce would look awfully good, even if he isn’t able to repeat his 910 OPS of last year.

  14. Actually Ludwick isn’t as bad as I thought if Petco/Padres was part of his problems. He had a.341 OBP with the Pirates.

  15. Ludwick is better than Heisey, but not by much.

    Why is Walt in love with lateral moves that waste millions? Isn’t that how Wayne Krivsky got the door?

    Al and I had this convo a couple days ago…Jocketty’s resume in Cincinnati was that of a fired GM until the Madson signing.

  16. I think Ludwick is going to be our starting LFer. Walt said he wanted a Gomes type, and I guess we got him.

  17. Not the move I was hoping to see, but I guess about what could be expected given the team’s OF needs, available FA talent, and already thinned prospect system. Main downside is that it de-Dusty proofs the lineup. Upside is Ludwick regaining a bit of his previous form. I find the former more likely though.

  18. Are you sure he doesn’t spell his name “F-R-E-D L-E-W-I-S”? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what we just got. So much for another “big” move. Your 2012 Cincinnati Reds, ladies and gentlemen.

    • Are you sure he doesn’t spell his name “F-R-E-D L-E-W-I-S”? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what we just got. So much for another “big” move. Your 2012 Cincinnati Reds, ladies and gentlemen.

      Good lord, we added a 24-year-old potential ace, the best left-handed reliever in baseball and arguably the best closer available, and we’re complaining about a bargain-bin addition at a position of need?

      I was hoping they’d be able to find an exciting LF, too, but the pickings were really slim this winter, outside of spending big money long-term for Beltran. The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be, but Ludwick is still better than Pierre, Ankiel, Lewis or Fukudome, and he didn’t cost very much.

  19. @hermanbates: That was the book on him early in his career. 2 of the last 3 years he has hit lefties for a better average. He has steadily improved against lefties throughout his career while, as other have said, his numbers against righties fell off a cliff.

    It pains me to say it, but Ryan Ludwick was the best offensive and defensive fit for this team.

    Bench:
    Cairo
    Frazier
    Francisco
    Ludwick
    Hannigan

    Sound about right?

    • @hermanbates:

      Bench:
      Cairo
      Frazier
      Francisco
      Ludwick
      Hannigan

      Sound about right?

      Actually, I don’t think so. We need someone who can play SS, and I don’t think the team considers any of those guys options at SS.

  20. We did need someone. I would’ve preferred something with some upside, like a trade for Michael Taylor (who really seems to be out of favor in Oakland), but, eh, we got someone.

  21. @pinson343: That is the best news of this move. Heisey can spell Stubbs against righties. Ludwick starts against lefties for Heisey and occassional starts elsewhere when appropriate (the latter part of that sentence is subject to Toothpick’s disposition).

    In other positive news his K% is under 23% over the last 5 or so years! That is the lowest among the 4 OFs 😛

  22. @Dan: Frazier and Cairo can play SS in a pinch. If Cozart goes down for any significant time you can bring Janish back up. But if Dusty isn’t confident in that, you might see Janish and Francisco battling for the last roster spot. Francisco still has options, right?

  23. @Travis G.: I’m not complaining. I’m just saying the conversation the past few days around here has been all about speculation over some mystery big move. It looks to me like this is the last move of the offseason. I’d imagine the rest of the money will be used for arbitration now. On a whole, i’m happy with what Walt did. I just can’t get too excited about Ludwick. Honestly, though, after Beltran went to the Cards it was going to take some crazy move to get me too excited about the OF spot. I’m not unhappy. I just hope Ludwick doesn’t have another .237 year and endear himself to Dusty. BR (bastion of solid sports journalism that it is) says expect to see him get about 100 starts in LF.

  24. @eric nyc: I am more satisfied with Ludwick at one year for 2.5 million than Beltran at two years and 22 million or whatever.

  25. CONDITION to my previous statement: Provided Ryan can re-attain his 2.0 WAR mark.

  26. Hopefully, that is how the bench shakes out. Heisey starting most of the time in LF, and Ludwick as a bench player. I’m not going to get too upset over this signing.

    I think Fukudome, or another LH bat, would have been a better fit for the bench. Now, Francisco is the only LH bat on the projected bench…and we’d expect him to be starting a couple of games a week for Rolen.

    The onus is on Jocketty and Baker to get their heads together and agree to the right decision on playing time. Baker has shown a propensity to play the younger players here in Cincinnati. Votto over Hatteberg is the most obvious example.

    The last time Baker had a borderline OF prospect like Heisey was Matt Murton with the Cubs in 2006. He gave Murton the large majority of the chances in LF that year (122 starts, over 500 PA’s), and I’d expect a similar chance for Heisey this season.

    At this point, we kind of have to see how the market plays out for the other guys rumored (Ross, Fukudome.) Sheldon quoted Jocketty as recently as yesterday that Ross is still seeking a multi-year deal. And remember the rumors about Fukudome were that his agent contacted the Reds, not that the Reds sought him out. Both of those guys are probably still holding out for a gig that promises more playing time.

    Ludwick is a below average hitter. But then, bench players typically are. If they were above average hitters, they’d be starting somewhere or they’d be young players under team control, and blocked by someone else (presumably better) on the depth chart. With Alonso and Sappelt both traded to improve the pitching staff, the Reds have no one like that on the roster.

    Here is what I said about Ludwick (compared to Ross) statistically a couple of weeks ago:

    Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick are the most alike when looking at cumulative statistics on a park adjusted basis (OPS+), but Ross’s performance has been more stable. Ludwick’s numbers have decreased each of the past three seasons, including a below average OPS (OPS+ of 90) last year. Starting with a 4.5 WAR in 2008, Ludwick dropped to 2.0, 0.9, and 0.1 over the past 3 years. Cody Ross on the other hand has posted a 1.1, 1.0, and 1.6 WAR in 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively. Ross can play centerfield in a pinch, but he is primarily a corner outfielder. Ludwick would not be a backup option for centerfield.

  27. Ryan Ludwick is bad enough but Dusty is going to start him. That sucks.

    I’m sure there will be people who see this is the final piece, but I see it as a hole in the roster.

    Perhaps we were all correct and Mr. Jocketty couldn’t find the right piece either.

  28. @eric nyc:

    Francisco is out of options. He’ll be on the 25-man roster on opening day, if he’s healthy.

    Frazier and Janish still have options, so could be stashed in Louisville.

    I think Walt is going to sign a SS (Theriot or someone like him). They are too thin at SS for a team that is planning to contend, especially with an unproven rookie as the starter.

    If he doesn’t sign a veteran SS, Janish will make the roster. They aren’t going to go with just one real SS on the 25-man.

    As for Ludwick…I’m hoping moving will improve his numbers. He’s a flyball hitter, so might well in GABP.

  29. Here’s the last four years of Ryan Ludwick in a nutshell: (keep in mind his PAs have not deviated more than 75 over that span) ISO has consistently fallen 165 points, as has his wOBA (down 103 points), WAR (down 5.3 wins), HRs (down 24), SPD (down 2.3 points), his effectiveness hitting a fastball (2.23 to – 0.21) and he now swings at far more junk (24.2% to 33.3%). Defensively, last year was the first year he played LF for more than a handful of innings. It was his worst statistical year as a defender.

    This is a wasteful move. Ludwick will invariably start in left (a position for which he is clearly not accustomed), hit cleanup (for which his abilities are seriously lacking). This is precisely the type of guy you don’t put on a Dusty Baker team.

    For those who think GABP will give him a huge boost, I could get on board with that if he still hit the ball in the air, but he doesn’t (evidenced by his rising GB/FB ratio).

    There are 10 options which would have been better suited for this team. Terrible signing. Just bad.

  30. He’s not terrible and his OPS+ was above average in ’09 and ’10, though he tanked in SD after the trade and last year and was worse in Pitt than he was in SD. I agree that the largest danger is that Dusty will “Gomes” him…not run him out there selectively, but he’ll become the everyday (5 days a week) LF.

    • He’s not terrible and his OPS+ was above average in ’09 and ’10

      While this is true, we should remember that OPS+ is ballpark adjusted, but not position-adjusted. In other words, a left fielder with a league-average bat is NOT a good thing.

      Overall, I don’t like this signing (mainly for Dusty reasons), but I like it a LOT better at $2.5M than at $8M. (And more than I’d like Cody Ross at $7M).

    • He’s not terrible and his OPS+ was above average in ’09 and ’10, though he tanked in SD after the trade and last year and was worse in Pitt than he was in SD. I agree that the largest danger is that Dusty will “Gomes” him…not run him out there selectively, but he’ll become the everyday (5 days a week) LF.

      Ludwick’s OPS+ was barely league average in ’09 and below league average since he was traded to San Diego.

  31. @David: It does sound terrible without context and cherry picked stats.

    • @David: It does sound terrible without context and cherry picked stats.

      The comment bothers me quite a bit. I’m using facts to demonstrate a point. WAR is a pretty all encompassing statistic btw, and what context do you want me to include? Petco? Ludwick’s speed, ability to hit fastballs, and GB/FB ratio are independent of park factor. So, you can blame Petco all you want, but Ludwick was diminishing as a player before Petco.

    • @David: It does sound terrible without context and cherry picked stats.

      David actually gave a lot of pretty good stats there. If you think they were cherry picked, what stats are you looking at that make Ludwick look good the last 3 years?

      That said, I still don’t see this as a wasteful signing, because this is basically what you get for not much money, and we didn’t want to spend much money adding OF depth.

  32. I’d like to see Heisey spell Stubbs more in CF, but who knows what Dusty will do. I’m looking for Ludwick to rebound this year. This is a gut check year for him. If he doesn’t improve what he’s done recently, his career is over. He’s playing for a contending team, so let’s hope this all motivates him.

  33. @David: I wholeheartedly agree–not the guy you want on a Dusty team. For all those saying he could have a nice year in GABP, I’ll say–
    1. It’s equally probable he gets cut at the trade deadline
    2. The opportunity cost of denying Frazier at bats. Equal production, more versatility, and will only be earning the minimum.
    3. This move has such low reward potential, it has nothing to do with getting to a World Series. For a team that’s ‘all in’, that’s unacceptable.
    If it were me, I would’ve doubled down, sold the farm, and offered up Hamilton or Stevenson and a mid-level prospect for a cost controlled OF w/ a lot of upside. Prospects at the lower levels are years away and can easily be replaced with one of the 3 picks we have in the top 50 this year. Go big or go home.

  34. I was clamoring for them to add another OF, but I agree with most of you: if this was the choice, this is not a good signing at 2.5. That is money that would have been better socked away and spent in July (if nobody else was available now). Hopefully he bounces back and is at least average–if so, it could turn out to be good.

  35. I really don’t see any better options. While I am not a Dusty hater, I feel this would have been a better signing was it not for the fact Dusty will play him every day. We all see it coming.

    We have argued and argued for two straight weeks. Can anyone really see a better option. And if you say Cody Ross, I’m going to fire back $6.5 million.

    They needed another OF and Ryan Ludwick is probably the best they could do. WI think we expected too much of Walt Jocketty after the three tricks he pulled this winter.

    Ugh. I am getting really tired of broke down Cardinal retreads though.

    • I really don’t see any better options.While I am not a Dusty hater, I feel this would have been a better signing was it not for the fact Dusty will play him every day.We all see it coming.

      We have argued and argued for two straight weeks.Can anyone really see a better option.And if you say Cody Ross, I’m going to fire back $6.5 million.

      They needed another OF and Ryan Ludwick is probably the best they could do.WI think we expected too much of Walt Jocketty after the three tricks he pulled this winter.

      Ugh.I am getting really tired of broke down Cardinal retreads though.

      My only response to the $6.5M comment would be, “ok, right now, but if we wait, will it come down?” I guess I’m wondering why not wait…the pool couldn’t get much shallower and the prices might have come down.

    • I really don’t see any better options.While I am not a Dusty hater, I feel this would have been a better signing was it not for the fact Dusty will play him every day.We all see it coming.

      Yup…

    • I really don’t see any better options.

      Bill James projects a .323 wOBA and 15 HRs in 400+ PAs. Here’s the problem, I think that’s optimistic. Ludwick’s ceiling is low. His floor is low. Bill James projects a .317 wOBA and 11 HRs from Michael Taylor, except Taylor is younger and has FAR more upside. He’s one of ten guys the Reds could have added if they just wanted replacement level. I could name another half dozen who could probably be acquired in a trade for marginal prospects and salary relief.

      • Bill James projects a .323 wOBA and 15 HRs in 400+ PAs. Here’s the problem, I think that’s optimistic. Ludwick’s ceiling is low. His floor is low. Bill James projects a .317 wOBA and 11 HRs from Michael Taylor, except Taylor is younger and has FAR more upside. He’s one of ten guys the Reds could have added if they just wanted replacement level. I could name another half dozen who could probably be acquired in a trade for marginal prospects and salary relief.

        Really? Do you have connections with MLB GM’s? I am just amazed at how fans think they know what moves and trades can be done.

        • Really? Do you have connections with MLB GM’s? I am just amazed at how fans think they know what moves and trades can be done.

          My suggestion that there are other players who could be acquired is no more an “absurd claim” then your implicit suggestion that nothing else could have been done.

          Prior deals (like Carlos Quentin trade) are facts. One may use facts to form an opinion. My opinion is that the Reds could have offered more to get Quentin, a better player than Ludwick.

          Roster construction is another fact. The A’s have several newly acquired players ahead of Michael Taylor. The Angels have too many outfielders/DHs and could use a better arm in the pen. Houston is shedding payroll in favor of rebuilding. Again my opinion is that the Reds could acquire players like Michael Taylor, Carlos Lee, or others.

          • My suggestion that there are other players who could be acquired is no more an “absurd claim” then your implicit suggestion that nothing else could have been done.Prior deals (like Carlos Quentin trade) are facts. One may use facts to form an opinion. My opinion is that the Reds could have offered more to get Quentin, a better player than Ludwick. Roster construction is another fact. The A’s have several newly acquired players ahead of Michael Taylor. The Angels have too many outfielders/DHs and could use a better arm in the pen. Houston is shedding payroll in favor of rebuilding. Again my opinion is that the Reds could acquire players like Michael Taylor, Carlos Lee, or others.

            Again without full information I see no way we as fans can know what players are available and such. We can state how we would like to see our team get player X, but to state that Team X has your opinion to many of a certain type of player and thus will deal someone really isn’t correct because maybe that team wants to have extra players at that position. I just find it interesting how we fans seem to know more about players, whom is available and such with little actual information over those in the business.

      • He’s one of ten guys the Reds could have added if they just wanted replacement level. I could name another half dozen who could probably be acquired in a trade for marginal prospects and salary relief.

        Ever occur to you that the Reds might value $2.5mil less than they value their marginal prospects right now after trading 7-for-2?

  36. I am shocked, I can not believe Walt couldn’t talk one of these boob GM’s into handing over one of their top tier OF for basically nothing. I mean really what good is Walt if all he can do is add a 4th OF for little cost when we all now there are about 29-30 other idiot GM’s who would like nothing better then dump some talent for a couple single A guys. Or better yet, shouldn’t the blame be on Bob? I mean lets be honost here Bob is raking in the cash and shouldn’t have had any problem shelling out the 26+ million needed to get Beltran. Why won’t Bob pony up and spend all of that cash he’s got…

    Oh well I guess we are doomed to 3rd place again…thanks Walt…thanks Bob. 😕

  37. The signing was a necessary evil for depth purposes. As others have said, it’s up to the Dust-meister to make this work. I’m hoping Ludwick gets less of the Gomes treatment and more of the Nix treatment… yeah, he could be Nix. Heisey better bring his top game to spring training. You’ve just been pushed a bit kid.

  38. As stated, I don’t like the signing, but I can agree that “necessary evil” is a fair characterization.

  39. @dn4192: Third place? The only way this team finishes third again is if STL and MIL over-perform to a large degree without Pujols, LaRussa and Fielder and with Braun missing 1/3 of the season. This team already has enough offense to contend, and might potentially have the best pitching staff top to bottom in the NL. The Central will likely be so weak this year that the third-place team might win 70-75 games. If the pitchinig performs up to its ability and there are no major injuries, this should be a team that wins 90-95 games, and if Chapman can be a starter at all, no one is going to want to face Latos, Chapman and Cueto in a short series.

  40. @Bill Lack: If you’re being patient, why wait around just to spend $3-4M on Cody Ross? He might hit better than Ludwick, but does nothing for your defense. Better to take Ludwick for what he is or may be, then wait to see what you can get at the trading deadline when underachievers are selling cheap. I see that as the time Walt will truly make his money, as his best moves in STL came in July (McGwire, Rolen, Edmonds).

  41. What happened to the Reds fans? We were all excited about the upcoming year prior to Ludwick, what makes adding depth to an outfield a bad thing?

    It is obvious that we are hoping that Stubbs, Bruce, and our catchers have great years. There comes a time when you have to rely on what you have versus what you can buy. We can’t play the buy players game like the Cardinals so we have to build from within.

    This deal to me is a good deal because we build depth. I would rather have 2 good outfielders than 1 great outfielder who if they get injured will leave you without anything.

  42. Ludwick was good with the Cardinals and not very good with anybody else. He had one excellent year with the Cardinals, in 2008 (age 29), when he hit .375/.591/.966, with an OPS+ of 150. He never approached those numbers again, with his next best full-season OPS of .775 the next year, with steadily declining numbers since.

    In other words, he had one excellent year hitting in front of Albert Pujols (.407/.701/1.108 in the 2-hole in 146 PAs) and behind Albert Pujols (.369/.587/.956 int he 4-hole in 301 PAs). Other than that, he’s Paul Householder.

    I don’t get it. Play Heisey.

  43. I don’t think there is a bigger Chris Heisey fan in RLN than me, unless he has family who reads these posts, but unless Dusty gets carried away with Ludwick’s playing time, I’m not so opposed to this signing.

    Ludwick might not be the hitter he was three or four years ago, granted, but let’s say one thing out front: He is NOT Jonny Gomes. Gomes was dismissed in Tampa Bay because they couldn’t live with all the strikeouts for a guy who never hit more than 21 homers in a season, and he had to be their DH because of his lack of defensive prowess, and they had better options than him at DH. … But the Reds get him, he has a good 5 or 6 weeks, and BAM, he gets the rest of that season and another season despite pitiful play. And, remember, THERE IS NO RYAN LUDWICK BOBBLEHEAD DOLL NIGHT, RIGHT? (Not that I’m bitter about last year.)

    To me, this does keep a little pressure on Heisey to have a decent spring and try to force Dusty to play him the bulk of the time. (Maybe “force” is not the best choice of words here when dealing with Dusty, but you get the point.) As I said the other day in a previous thread, and someone on this thread has suggested, I would be very much OK with Heisey getting spot starts to rest Stubbs and/or Bruce as well, with Ludwick getting some ABs in left field if he shows any offensive life at all. That way, Dusty can feel like he’s “tinkering,” right? And when Stubbs goes on one of his predictable two-week strikeout binges, maybe a few well-timed days off will help him out of the quagmire. Maybe I’m dreaming there, however.

    If Ludwick clearly out-hits Heisey this spring, then I guess he is pretty much the everyday left-fielder, and Heisey ends up in his role from years’ past: pinch-hitter and double-switch guy, maybe defensive replacement. Heck, if we DO get something resembling the Ludwick of old, he could prove clearly the better option.

    Last observation: People overlook that not only was Ludwick in Petco Park for half of his games (until the trade), but in that division, he played the bulk of games against the Giants and their aces, and the Dodgers with Kershaw, etc, and the rising young pitchers in Arizona last year. (remember what Ian Kennedy and those guys did to the Reds last year?) Those pitchers could hurt anybody’s numbers …

  44. Well, we had a hole in outfield depth, and we don’t anymore. I’m hoping going from PETCO to GABP will boost Ludwick’s numbers. I see Ludwick as the primary LF now. It’s going to happen. Of course, I suppose the glass-half-full part of me thinks that at least Heisey will be back as the 4th OF, which is where I think he is most effective anyway. I still see him getting substantial playing time with this roster.

    I’m not quite as down on this today as I was last night. Guess every signing can’t be a Madson type.

    I still would have preferred Betemit for playing everywhere, but whatcha’ gonna do?

    I’m just glad Ludwick doesn’t have that red thing on his chin.

    • Well, we had a hole in outfield depth.

      That’s why the Reds signed Patterson and Lewis and Nix and Gomes. The Reds are saying they are “going for it” but this is not “going for it.”

      • The Reds are saying they are “going for it” but this is not “going for it.”

        I don’t think that’s fair. First, they’ve invested A LOT in the 2012 season — Wood, Volquez, Alonso, Grandl, Boxberger, Sappelt, and $8.5M, to be precise. Second, they *do* need a fourth OF (In this case, the 4th OF is now Heisey). While Ludwick is not exciting, he is, for the money, about the best available option.

        When you think about it, “best available option, within reasonable budget restraints” has really been Walt’s plan all off-season. The best available starting pitcher was not one of the free agents, so Walt opened up his prospect checkbook and got Latos. The best available setup man was not one of the free agents, so Walt again paid in talent. The best available closer was probably Papelbon, but his price was prohibitive. Instead, Walt got the best guy available *at a reasonable price*.

        My preference would’ve been for Seth Smith, but I’m not sure if the Reds still have the depth to have matched the Athletics’ package.

        • I don’t think that’s fair. First, they’ve invested A LOT in the 2012 season — Wood, Volquez, Alonso, Grandl, Boxberger, Sappelt, and $8.5M.

          In determining the Reds’ payroll, there are three unknowns, which for purposes of my argument I’ve resolved in favor of a higher payroll: 1) Masset and Arredondo win arbitration at $3.775 (instead of the team’s number i.e. $2.875); 2) that the 9 non-contratct/non-arb players rounding out the roster avgerage $500K salaries per player (new CBA minimum is 480K), and 3) that buyouts are figured into this year’s payroll instead of next year’s (ex. Madson is at 8.5 rather than 6.5).

          The Reds’ payroll is $75.4 million. Last year’s payroll was $76.151 million according to Cotts. This after Jocketty said that payroll projections are that the Reds will “bump up a little.”

      • That’s why the Reds signed Patterson and Lewis and Nix and Gomes. The Reds are saying they are “going for it” but this is not “going for it.”

        See, this is the kind of hyperbole that I don’t get about this signing.

        So this offseason the Reds, who scored a lot of runs last year, have added a cost-controlled, young, top teir starter, the best set up man in the league, one of the top closers in the league, and one aging/declining back-up outfielder.

        You’re telling me that you look at that offseason, and you say, “that’s not going for it. if they were going for it they would have gotten a better 4th outfielder.”

        That’s just silly.

  45. I dont like that Cairo and Ludwick are on our bench. Keep Ludwick, use Frazier, a younger, faster, more powerful, equally useful miguel cairo. Or keep cairo and make frazier your 4th outfielder. dont keep both and force the superior-in-ability-in-all-aspects-of-everything todd frazier back to triple a. This bench is not deep enough. Janish is our backup shortstop. Dusty hits better than Paul right now. and i love janish. i always have. But when Frazier > Janish, Ludwick, and Cairo, and he’s the one in triple a…we have a problem.

  46. i’m surprised both by the surprised reactions and the negative reactions to this deal. i feel like a lot of people (myself included) have been calling this signing for weeks because it makes sense.

    most teams carry 5 outfielders, and before getting ludwick we only had 4 on the 40 man roster. frazier can play some LF, but the other was phipps, and counting on him to contribute for the reds is crazy.

    so clearly, we needed another outfielder, for depth, plain and simple. on the open market $2.5mil buys you about .5WAR. Ludwick can put that up, and probably more. Heisey get some competition, and hopefully he wins the job outright by just outhitting ludwick.

    but if heisey isn’t clearly outhitting ludwick, then what’s the problem playing ludwick some? even if they are the same player more or less, we needed another outfielder.

    i agree that the bench is poorly constructed, with only one lefty and cairo not adding anything. i would have preferred that they get a left handed outfielder.

  47. I like these one year contracts to motivate so-so ballplayers to produce or move on. Heisey will get plenty of playing time to prove himself as the 4th. outfielder. Walt has the Reds in ‘win mode.’ 😯

  48. “Last observation: People overlook that not only was Ludwick in Petco Park for half of his games (until the trade), but in that division, he played the bulk of games against the Giants and their aces, and the Dodgers with Kershaw, etc, and the rising young pitchers in Arizona last year. (remember what Ian Kennedy and those guys did to the Reds last year?) Those pitchers could hurt anybody’s numbers”

    Agreed, however the Cards and Brew Crew’s rotation is no walk in the park either. …

  49. @dn4192: I don’t think I agree with what David said (there is some value in certainty after all), however, if you don’t want to talk baseball, why do you come to a website devoted to talking about baseball?

    • @dn4192: I don’t think I agree with what David said (there is some value in certainty after all), however, if you don’t want to talk baseball, why do you come to a website devoted to talking about baseball?

      I have no problme talking baseball, but to make what I feel are kinda absurd claims isn’t talking baseball. to state that better deals could have been made via trades and such without having full details is a bit much. I am okay with saying I would have traded X to get X but that is not what I feel David was saying.

  50. Overall, I think if anyone is thrilled with getting Ludwick, then they have mental issues. But it’s not awful, and the Reds do need some depth. I doubt the dropoff between Heisey and Ludwick is all that noticeable.

    • Overall, I think if anyone is thrilled with getting Ludwick, then they have mental issues. But it’s not awful, and the Reds do need some depth. I doubt the dropoff between Heisey and Ludwick is all that noticeable.

      To me this is just a normal move ML teams make. All teams carry veteran players who bring strengths and weaknesses with them. We all knew we needed to add another veteran OF and given what we paid I think we went with the best option…

  51. @David: You’re right. I stand corrected.

  52. I’m ok with the signing if it’s clear that Ludwick, barring a very down year from Heisey, has been signed as OF depth and as a guy with a little pop off the bench that you could bring in as a PH late in the game. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have pocketed the money and seen what Frazier and Francisco might do as 4th OF but as neither is really an OF, that is a bit of an unknown. There is also the fact that young, inexperienced players often struggle on the bench or their development is hindered due to them being on the bench. That’s a whole different discussion though so let’s stick to Ludwick and what he brings.

    So what about Ludwick? Well how about some projections:
    I’m going to go with what some call a “slash-line” which is pretty basic, along with AB and HR projections. A slash-line is AVG/OBP/SLG

    Bill James projects: .249/.325/.426 15HR and 101K over 385AB. I’d take a .751 OPS out of Ludwick as a 4th OF with below-average corner OF defense (based on statistics and ‘the eye test’) but it isn’t really desireable for a starting OF. James’ projection is also pretty optimistic considering his 2011 actuals of .237/.310/.363. Even his 2010 wasn’t as good as James’ 2012 projections. His slash-line in 2010 was .251/.325/.418, very close to James’ 2012 projection.

    The only other projection I have for Ludwick is RotoChamp. They aren’t my favorite (I really like ZiPS and Bill James). That said, their projections are: .242/.320/.387

    Looking at some other numbers from Fangraphs.com, I notice that his kk/bb ratio hasn’t changed much, his contact percentage however has gone down and he is swinging at more pitches outside the zone than in years past.

    For comparison sake, James’ projections for Heisey are: .267/.328/.485 over only 266 AB though.

    Like I said, for what’s out there I don’t particularly dislike the signing as long as it’s simply for OF depth. If Ludwick ends up getting the majority of the playing time however, it will likely be bad news for Reds fans.

    As a Reds fan, I just hope it works out. I’d love to see him hit like he did in 2008. Good luck to Ludwick here in Cincy.

    An interesting and more in depth statisical analysis by Mike Axisa can be found here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/reds-add-ludwick-much-needed-outfield-depth/

  53. Oh and for the record, I LOVE “Update 3” in the original post. I take Ludwick over either of them.

  54. All of this is just noise to me. We’ll find out if the Reds are “all in”, so to speak, in the period late June to late July. Invariably, as with all teams, something is going to go wrong. It will be necessary to make a trade, and to avoid giving up the farm, it will be necessary to open the wallet.

    If a deal like the Ludwick one prevents the wallet from being opened, then it’s a stupid deal. If it doesn’t, then as long as Jocketty sticks a leash on Baker so that he doesn’t just play Ludwick all the time if he sucks, I just can’t get too excited about it. Again, the real test will come in midseason. If the team needs to make a move, and cries poverty as the reason they can’t make it, I’m going to be very unhappy, and point back to unneeded deals like this one. I’d rather play Phipps, if the Reds are actually out of money now. (Meaning, they really, truly, can’t afford to spend a single more dime this year. But I really doubt that’s the case.)

    • All of this is just noise to me. We’ll find out if the Reds are “all in”, so to speak, in the period late June to late July.

      That’s too late in my opinion. The Reds have to distance themselves from the Brewers early when they are without Braun.

  55. @al: Latos, Madson and Marshall are excellent additions, but if the Reds are putting everything into one season, which is apparently what the Reds are doing, then you’ve got to come up with a better solution than a Ludwick/Heisey combination in LF. Borrow, steal, do whatever, but come up with the money to get something done. You can’t tell me that Houston doesn’t want to get out from under Carlos Lee’s contract. San Diego traded marginal prospects for Carlos Quentin. Each is a horrible defender, but better than what we’ve had in LF for the last 5 years, and fit the RH #4 requirement as well.

  56. @al: Having just read this post, a response seems necessary.

    Ludwick has declined and those stats tell the story of decreased bat speed and aging player. The context and stats to which I am referring is this move considering the current landscape of options.

    For the price and the duration Ludwick seems like a better option than anything else available. Ankiel, Fukodome, etc. I can’t think of a more sound move considering the Reds already made their blockbuster trade and offering still more prospects to pry away a 4th OF or legitimate starter was a bridge too far. Based on the offensive stats, the Reds did not need anything more than a Ludwick type to be the favorites in the division and have a legit shot to progress in the playoffs.

    Statistically, my take on Ludwick is that he is definitely not the same player he was (can’t argue that at all) but his splits show that he is more than a decent fit for Heisey’s lefty deficiency. His left field power at PNC and Petco went from a liability to a strength at GABP. His SLG% was more than 40 points heigher on the road and it was over .410 against lefties in what was generally a bad year. Regressed or no, his strengths play to his new venue and the teams needs.

  57. I guess the real question to me is, why did the Reds need to do more?

    They vastly improved their pitching situation to have arguably the best bullpen in the NL and two legitimate front of the rotation guys (better than Wainright and Carpenter, imo).

    Their offensive production last year was fine in spite of pretty much everything going wrong. Now they have Rolen ostensibly healthy, same for Cozart, with the hope that their young-ish core of Stubbs, Bruce, and Votto can all get slightly better than last year (a very realistic hope).

    Did getting Ludwick for 2.5 mill instead of Lee for 10 million (plus a package including at least 1 probably 2 decent prospects) cost the Reds the division? I don’t see it.

  58. The bottom line is we’re a mid-market team and we need certain guys to step up to win. We didn’t go after Beltran, and that meant we were going to have to lean on Bruce, Stubbs, Arroyo, and Rolen to have bounce back years (Bruce didn’t have so much a bad year as he didn’t have the breakout year that was expected). That’s just the reality of this team. If we didn’t believe Bruce could blossom into a franchise player, we wouldn’t have given him $50 million. Rolen’s the veteran cornerstone. Arroyo’s the Rolen of the rotation. It just is what it is. We all hoped Walt could pull off a magic trick and VASTLY improve every area of the roster without having to give anything up and while still acting within our salary constraints. Well this is what he was physically capable of doing. Time to stop whining and start hoping these guys live up to their potential. If the guys on this roster all have average years, this is a mediocre team. If a couple of them have good years, this is a decent team. If 4 or 5 of them have good years, this is a team that could, at the absolute least, make a run like the Cards did last year. If everything clicks, with the weak division this could potentially be a very good team. All up to the players now.

  59. The more I think about Ludwick, the more I’m beginning to be okay with it. Pretty soon it is possible I might even like it. We’ll see.

    I like the fact that he grew up a Reds fan. I don’t, however, like the fact that he said, “growing up my favorite player was Eric Davis”. That quote reminds me that I’m old.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

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