The early news about Ryan Ludwick’s right shoulder isn’t encouraging. Reports this evening describing the injury as a torn labrum have prompted speculation that the Reds’ left fielder will miss four to six months, depending on how serious the tear is. The surgery will take place tomorrow and then we’ll know better.

Tomorrow, expect the club to call up an outfielder from AAA Louisville. Chris Heisey and Xavier Paul will play left field. The batting order will be reshuffled. Everyone with the club will repeat the cliché “the next guy has to step up.”

But don’t let those easy moves and tired quotes fool you.

This injury is a serious blow to the Reds plans, because their roster is paper-thin for starting position players. If the Reds stick with their stated course of replacing Ludwick internally, they have three realistic options for a clean-up hitter: (1) Jay Bruce, (2) Todd Frazier, and (3) Brandon Phillips.

Dusty Baker’s biases will make the first two options unlikely. Baker won’t want to cross the streams with Jay Bruce batting after Joey Votto, even though Joey Votto hits lefties plenty well. Baker will say that Frazier is too unproven for such an important promotion (tell that to Mike Trout and that Harper kid in DC).

Baker’s instinct instead will be to use Brandon Phillips in the #4 spot, because Baker is familiar with it. While no internal solution could fully compensate for losing Ludwick (.275/.346/.531), shifting Phillips to the clean-up spot will cause a cascade of bad effects. Phillips (.281/.321/.429) has considerably less power and worse on-base skills than Ludwick.

Baker will almost certainly shift Zack Cozart to the #2 spot in place of Phillips. Cozart was painfully ill-suited for the top of the order last year, but the one person who didn’t seem to mind was Baker. Maybe Baker will bat Chris Heisey second, which would likely be better than Cozart.

But no matter how the Reds reshuffle the deck, the Big Question would remain: Should the Reds trade from strength (pitching) to acquire a new starting outfielder who can bat clean-up?

I come down on the side of a big trade.

Plenty of people will draw a parallel to the Reds coping without Joey Votto last season. But there are crucial differences. For one, Votto was out for a short time compared to the prospect of Ludwick being gone most, if not all, of the year. Second, the Reds were extremely fortunate last year. Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick surprised everyone with how well they hit during the time when Votto was gone. Frazier hit .250 or less in three months. Ludwick himself was still hitting .201 on June 13. Both players defied the odds and were All-Star performers while JoeyMVP was on the DL.

And sure, that could happen again. Maybe Chris Heisey will step up and hit (and walk) like a regular major leaguer. Maybe Brandon Phillips will hit ten more home runs than he’s hit since 2007.  Maybe Zack Cozart (.246/.288/.399) will all of a sudden learn how to get hits and take a walk. His 2012 OBP was a dismal .288.

That’s a lot of maybes. Too many. With the Choo Window open for just six or seven months, the Reds can’t afford to do anything but their utmost to win right now.

If the surgery reveals that Ryan Ludwick will miss four-to-six months, as expected, I’d package Mike Leake, a decent prospect and a reliever (Arredondo) and see what can be found on the trade market. Commit to Aroldis Chapman as a starter and entrust the bullpen to Broxton, Marshall, Hoover, LeCure and crew. Josh Willingham anyone?

A single head-first slide. A play of infinite hustle. And suddenly the Reds have to move from Plan A to Plan B.

General Manager Walt Jocketty put together an excellent team for Opening Day. He played it safe with the Chapman decision. But that was a world of two broad, healthy shoulders on Ryan Ludwick.

Now, it’s time for the Bold Walt to do what it takes to find the Reds a thumper for the middle of the lineup. The pitching depth can handle it.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 83 Comments

  1. Steve, I think you’re overrating Ludwick. He was very unlikely to repeat last years numbers. While I probably wouldn’t bat Phillips 4th. The drop off isn’t as steep as you make it out to be.

    I do agree that a trade may be in order.

    • @Jason Linden: Yeah, the lineup issue is secondary to the drop off from Ludwick to Heisey, which could be 100 points of OPS or more. Last year the gap between them was 160 points. Ludwick had the second highest OPS on the team. Heisey’s OPS was below Scott Rolen’s (and Mike Leake’s).

  2. I tend to lean towards a trade as well. If the Reds are indeed in win now mode, they mustn’t go into “wait and see” mode with Heisey and Paul as the platoon in left field. Perhaps a package with Cingrani or Corcino rather than Leake to go along with some other mid tier prospects.

    This team tends to live and die by the long ball and losing 15-25 dingers from one position on day one puts a significant dent on the Reds’ chances for a deep October run.

  3. Ethier since Puig is ready?

  4. I’m with you as far as looking for another option via trade. My opinion on Dusty has declined over the past 2 seasons and I think the moves he makes now could solidify my feelings good or bad! Go Reds!

  5. Why does everyone assume Heisey/Paul will play left field??? I would shift Shoo over to left if Ludwick is going to be out 4-6 months.

    • @redsfandownunder: Jocketty was asked this afternoon and he said Choo would stay in CF.

      • @Steve Mancuso: That’s probably because they trust Heisey in CF but not Paul. If they’re being platooned Choo would have to bounce around, which is a bad idea.

        For those talking about Frazier in left: we can’t have a sub-par defensive left fielder with Choo in CF.

  6. Ludwick was a 2 win player last year, albeit in a limited # of at bats, and I don’t think many people were expecting him to repeat his performance last year. He’s definitely not irreplaceable, and indeed, may be the only starter the Reds could have afforded to lose to a serious injury.

    (the thought of Zack Cozart/Brandon Phillips going down and seeing Cesar Izturis play everyday should strike fear in everyone’s hearts)

    The Reds were ridiculously lucky last year, and invested money in a 34 year old outfielder. These things happen.

    The Reds have to solve this internally. The YANKEES, of all teams, were forced to trade for Vernon Wells. There just won’t be much available until around the trade deadline…if this means the Reds have to tread water with Heisey/Paul/whoever, maybe even speed up Billy Hamilton, so be it.

    • @CP: The Reds have more trade chips, particularly pitching, than the Yankees did. Whether the Reds trade Leake, Chapman, Cingrani etc. my point was the Reds should look to trade from strength, which is their pitching depth.

      • @Steve Mancuso: True, though the Yanks have a better farm system than the Reds.

        The timing creates some serious issues for the Reds, however. It’s so early in the season that the franchises that need pitching can’t really trade a valuable LF for a low-end starter (Leake) or a prospect (Cingrani). Nobody wants to admit to their fans they aren’t fielding a competitive team this early in 2013. Someone like the Cubs & Soriano could…but that doesn’t really improve the team.

        That basically leaves Chapman. I can’t see the Reds being that flexible & moving him the rotation, or trading him and opening up a hole in their bullpen. It’s gonna be hard to get fair value anyway (I’d love to find out that a team is willing to trade a 4 WAR LF for a closer though 😀 ! ).

        • @CP: Agreed, the timing is less than ideal. Although I’m not sure if a trade for Leake, Arredondo and another player would be seen necessarily as putting up the white flag. It would depend on what that team needed and if they had a relative surplus at the corner outfield spot. A team like the Twins is desperate for starters. Mike Leake would have been a frontline starter on their staff last year, their #2 or #3 at certain times of the year. But yeah, it’s not an optimal situation.

  7. I am trending towards the trade route as well. Joey Votto must have some protection or else he will lead the leagues in intentional walks. I am up for trading either Leake or Chapman to get the player we need, yet if I were to give up Chapman, then I need a stud in Left for three or four years. The team is built to compete for a couple of years so, I would play the team I have for two weeks and see what else the baseball gods have in store and how well Paul and Heisey compete. If the Gods crap on us again- then I might just pay the team and exercise the bad karma so to speak. Hate to trade for a player and have him get hurt as well. Some time the stars are aligned against a season, though its awfully early to say it.

  8. “Baker will say that Frazier is too unproven for such an important promotion (tell that to Mike Trout and that Harper kid in DC”

    Whoa, Stevie–are you really saying that the Toddler (27 years old)should be considered an even shot with 19-year-old Harper and 20-year-old Trout? You can’t do a la carte from the Bill James woodpile. The single most definng and separating signature on any player’s profile is his AGE when it happens. Trout is likely to be a very good-to-great player, but Harper may well be soaring into uncharted territory. I love Todd Frazier, but he’s just a year older than Gary Redus when he had an award-worthy rookie season hitting around .264 and with 30-some steals. And that was about it. Is anybody here suggesting a long-term tie-up with Frazier? I love him, too! He’s got a clear sense of baseball and looks like he knows his way around Mayberry.

    • “Baker will say that Frazier is too unproven for such an important promotion (tell that to Mike Trout and that Harper kid in DC”

      Whoa, Stevie–are you really saying that the Toddler (27 years old)should be considered an even shot with 19-year-old Harper and 20-year-old Trout? You can’t do a la carte from the Bill James woodpile. The single most definng and separating signature on any player’s profile is his AGE when it happens. Trout is likely to be a very good-to-great player, but Harper may well be soaring into uncharted territory. I love Todd Frazier, but he’s just a year older than Gary Redus when he had an award-worthy rookie season hitting around .264 and with 30-some steals. And that was about it. Is anybody here suggesting a long-term tie-up with Frazier? I love him, too! He’s got a clear sense of baseball and looks like he knows his way around Mayberry.

      Steve is implying that Baker will not look past the fact that Frazier is young, and will relegate him to no better than 6th in the order. Less conservative managers (Sciosa, Davey J) are willing to put their young talent in key batting order positions, and allow them the chance to thrive. Dusty Baker is 700 WLW conservative, so this isn’t likely to happen.

  9. Almost hate to say this, but is Scott Rolen a legitimate plan B? According to rumors, the REDS offered him a $4M on-guaranteed contract prior to ST that he turned down.

  10. Should read “non-guaranteed” – silly fingers!

  11. I hear Willie Harris and Corey Patterson are looking for work…..

    Trading Leake, Arredondo, and player TBA for a decent LF makes too much sense, and would force Baker to see the light of starting Chapman. Chapman is already stretched out, somewhat. Put him on a 60-70 pitch count starting off, and bring in Simon or LeCure as the long man to bridge the middle innings. Problem is that Dusty Baker sees as much light as Ray Charles when it comes to this.

    So…… get ready for Phillips in the 4 hole, Cozart in the 2 hole, and Heisey/Paul splitting time in LF. The ballsy move would be to bring up Billy Hamilton, start him in center, move Choo to Left, and bat Hamilton 7th, in front of Dusty’s designated catcher slot (8th). Its risky, but the easy options went out with Ludwick’s awkward slide.

  12. Flashback to last year, Joey Votto went down and Steve wrote along doom and gloom piece on how the Reds were about to enter a death spiral.

    Sound familiar?

    • @CI3J: You’ve repeated this mischaracterization of my Votto post last year several times. It isn’t any more accurate now than it was then. I’d encourage you to re-read it, but I don’t really think you’re interested in accurately characterizing it. Here’s a line from what I wrote:

      “How should the Reds replace Joey Votto? Moderation, not panic, is called for.”

      Most of the post was about the Reds organization mishandling the case from a medical standpoint. Care to dispute that? I also talked about how long it would take for him to recover.

      Again, it’s all there for you to read, if you’re interested in the facts.

    • @CI3J: If you check out the comments to the post, you’re there, bringing over some random post from an ESPN blog that did match your criticism of panic. You had to do that – and were rightly called out for it at the time – because you were characterizing my post (and others) at Redleg Nation as panicking. No fair reading of what was written would support that.

      Yet your mistaken memory – apparently based on something you read in a comment section somewhere else – lingers on to this day.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        Wow, must have hit a nerve….

        Anyway, I don’t want to argue. All I want to say is I agree with Jason: You are over-reacting, just like you did when Votto went down.

        Keep calm and carry on.

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        And actually, if you were to read the comments section in that Votto post, you would see the MAIN point I kept harping on was that no one needed to be fired over the handling of that situation, something you advocated. I saw it as an over-reaction, just like I would view a desperate trade in the next few days to replace Ludwick as an over-reaction.

        Stay calm, teams have overcome worse than this.

  13. Assuming that Walt couldn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat and get a multi-year solution for LF (i.e., Chapman+ for Stanton), I believe there are three routes available to replacing (or exceeding) Ludwick’s production.

    1) Get a Willingham-type (or Willingham). . . The problem here is that Walt will have to pay a king’s ransom at this point in the season. Now, I would love to see Willingham in the four hole (though not so much in LF). However, I just don’t see this happening.

    2) Get a Raul Ibanez (yuck) type, veteran-ey, player with pop (19 HR off of RHP last year) to platoon with Heisey (leaving XP available to PH). We could all hear about how Ibanez (or a similar player) is a great leader, blah blah blah. Though probably a very affordable option, I just don’t see this happening either.

    3) Bring up Corey Patterson, err, Derrick Robinson and send Heisey and XP to LF in a platoon-type situation. Of course, I don’t believe Dusty would ever give the majority of ABs to XP (remember Valdez in CF?), even though it would stand to reason that he should hit RHP pretty well and that most starters are RH.

    With the first two options, of course, the Dusty lineup shennaigans are less likely. Though I believe the third option could approach Ludwick’s production (though likely with less HRs), I believe the loss in production elsewhere (think two hole) could be a significant problem.

  14. I am in favor of an internal solution. Making a trade would bring the potential for too much upheaval at other positions. Besides, who could you even reasonably trade for that could potentially replicate Ludwick’s expected production?

    Injuries happen. Good teams keep calm and carry on.

  15. Perfect game alert-turn on MLB network now

  16. The Nation has noted the tough early schedule, so let’s hold on the panic moves. As he head toward May we could hope for more, but north of .500 keeps us in the ballpark. The resultant price of a hitter drops. A slow start, and maybe then something more serious or reactive is called for.

    Regarding Willingham or similar, right now it’d be the prospect that matters, not a #5 starter or a discarded reliever. If a LF could be had, they could and maybe would be preferred without Leake and therefore without a bullpen shift.

  17. I’d say solve this with Heisey/Paul whatever. A trade should be done later in the year when the price is cheaper. This team is good enough for the postseason without Ludwick for a few months. If it becomes a problem, they can get a left field solution in early July or so.

    It’s a difficult call whether to move Choo to LF. At the trading deadline or so, a LF upgrade will be much easier to find than a CF, I’m guessing.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

      Well said, agree 100%. No need to over-react to this situation, the team is strong enough to still be very very good even without Ludwick and later, if an upgrade is still needed, it can be worked out at that time when other teams aren’t going to ask for a King’s ransom.

  18. The Reds should stand pat for a couple weeks and then see whats out there. We still got 161 games. A lot of people thought after JV got hurt they would struggle. They survived lets see how this plays out. I sure hope this is not too serious and Ludwick is not out more than 2-3 months.

    • @Larry1980:

      The thing is, even when Ludwick DOES come back, he’s going to be like Joey Votto and that knee: No power. Shoulder injuries for power hitters are devastating, and honestly I can see even someone like Phillips outslugging Ludwick once he comes back.

  19. Alfonso Soriano anybody?

  20. The fact that the GM said Choo is staying put in CF would tend to indicate that he is looking to make a trade, be that sooner or later. If the trade would per chance bring a CF/ lead off type guy, Choo can be moved to LF and in the line up when that happens. If a trade brings a big bat to drop into LF then Choo stays in CF and lead off. Either way, the disruption happens only once.

    The flexibility of Frazier and Choo really makes it pretty wide open as to whom the Reds could go after.

    • @OhioJim: I think you might be right about that. It might also reflect the prediction that Ludwick may not be out for more than half a season. I could understand not wanting to switch Choo to LF only to move him back to CF later. We’ll know the severity tomorrow.

      While in theory the Reds could deal for a LF or CF, I think they’re more likely to find a clean-up type hitter at the corner OF spot. Most centerfielders who are also #4 hitters are players like Matt Kemp, who would be difficult to acquire.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I agree with that, as I said earlier. Corner OFs who can hit some are obtainable at the trading deadline. CFs who can hit the way Ludwick can are probably all cornerstones of their franchise.

        However, one argument for moving Choo to left is that perhaps by September Billy Hamilton might be ready to take over. No, I don’t think he’s magically going to be fully ready to be really good then, but on the other hand he might look pretty good compared to whatever they could get on the market, Heisey, or Paul.

      • @Steve Mancuso: what about finding a cf to hit in the 2 hole?

  21. One thing is for sure. We’ll never know the Reds are looking to make a trade until the moment it’s announced.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Would u make the trade now or wait a couple weeks?

      • @Larry1980: If it’s a fair deal and we could make it now, I’d do it. I generally don’t believe players like Heisey, Phillips and Cozart can change their spots much from year to year. The April schedule is brutal and we could easily slip down – how far would depend on how well the Cardinals play.

        That said, I can easily see the case for waiting to allow the trade market to soften. Maybe a team will lose a starter or two and be desperate.

        • @Steve Mancuso: you dont think theres any chance they could survive with Heisey and Paul until ludwick comes back. I am just trying to be optimistic.

          • @Larry1980: Sure they could. It isn’t optimal, and we’ll go mad listening to Dusty explain his lineup rationale, or lack thereof.

            But the gap between Ludwick and Heisey is probably less than 1.5 wins for the entire year. Maybe add another 1.5 games/year for sub-optimal lineup construction (this is probably too conservative, likely it’s less than this). Again, this is for the ENTIRE year. It actually needs to be discounted.

            I think the real worst case scenario is the Reds get zero production from Heisey/Paul, then Ludwick comes back and has zero power for the remainder of 2013. Dusty keeps playing him b/c Ludwick is his cleanup hitter. I feel like we’ve seen this scenario before…

    • @Steve Mancuso: Agreed. However, for the Reds and Jocketty it is already more transparent than usual to have already said as much as they have about the Ludwick injury and to have made the Choo stays in CF statement.

  22. Regarding the timing, one thing we outsiders don’t know is how far trade talks might have progressed months ago. Perhaps Jocketty was close to dealing Leake et al. to a team and decided at the last minute not to accept. Ludwick’s injury may change the calculation enough that he might be for it now.

    Contrary to those who are asserting this is a contrived argument to get Chapman back in the rotation, it isn’t. I wouldn’t be opposed to trading Chapman – just deal from the team’s strength, which is undeniably pitching. The problem with trading Chapman is that the Reds have sort of devalued him right now by implying he’s not ready to start. Another team might value a closer – like the Tigers – but its still not the same full value as a starter. Leake, on the other hand, is pretty much at his full value right now.

  23. The first trade the Reds should make is the young, in his prime Thom Brennaman, for the grizzled vet Vin Scully. I’m watching the Giants/Dodgers game and hearing Scully talk about Kung Fu Panda & his weight, describing how Madison Bumgarner pitches, explaining how Ryu got out of so many jams is pure poetry.

    • Vin is amazing. I learn more about the Reds players from Vin than from our own announcers. And yes, his work is truly poetic. Maybe we could sweeten the deal by throwing Kelch in too!

    • The first trade the Reds should make is the young, in his prime Thom Brennaman, for the grizzled vet Vin Scully.

      I would trade Thom Brennaman for silence.

      This isn’t the best time of year for making trades, unless Jocketty was really close on something before they signed Ludwick. In the meantime, I might prefer to see Donald Lutz, who has upside, over giving extended playing time to 28-year-old backups. We already know what Heisey and Paul can offer, and it’s just not enough. Of course, any weaknesses exposed by this injury will likely be magnified by the manager’s reaction to it. He’s not very creative, and he doesn’t like to improvise.

      • @Travis G.:

        I would trade Thom Brennaman for silence.

        Comment of the day. This is one trade I can and do make all the time in my own house.

      • @Travis G.: I don’t know how many times I said to my TV yesterday, “Thom, just stop talking.” I actually turned the TV down during the whole bunting fiasco. And I don’t like that he has Marty’s negativity. He hasn’t earned the right.

  24. Trade Mike Leake? No thanks. I’d be very careful about trading starting pitching. The Reds are one rotation injury away from a crisis that will dwarf the Ludwick injury. Over-reaction, IMO. You cannot have enough starting pitching. Keep saying that to yourself. Because the moment you forget it, you’re about to hit the iceberg.

    • @Richard Fitch: That’s assuming that Leake is the best 5th option at present. That’s not clear to me (and that’s got nothing to do with Chapman). It’s not clear the other way, either, but you have to admit there’s a reasonable possibility Cingrani could outperform Leake.

      Also, Mike Leake quality pitchers (at least the Leake from 2012) aren’t that hard to obtain in July.

  25. Steve, I agree with your article down the line. I think you have totally pegged Baker’s likely approach, and I fully expect our offense to be hamstringed by Cozart in the 2 hole and Phillips batting 4th. Fewer baserunners for Votto and less protection for him from Phillips almost guarantee a balky offense again. If we can’t pull off a trade for a big bat, we are back to the pre-2012 weakness in LF. So I am currently hoping that, unless Ludwick can be somehow fully back by mid-season, Walt can pull off another brilliant trade like he did for Choo. While on the topic of lack of offense, our abysmal Opening Day makes me wonder if Brook Jacoby is the problem, or if we just have a team full of players, outside of Joey, who just can’t hit for average, esp. with RISP. It felt like 2012 all over again as we piled up that 0-10 with RISP.

    • @rdtobias: There’s always the possibility that they had one bad game.

    • @rdtobias:

      Yeah, that Angels offense sure sucks. Who is this Trout fella? What about that Pujols bum? Or that Hamilton stiff?

      All I know is, as a team, they had TWELVE LOB for the game. No doubt that Angels team is going nowhere with that bunch of no-name hacks. Last place finish for sure.

  26. For those advocating waiting a few weeks to see what unfolds, remember this: The Angels last year started 6-14, brought up Trout, and went 83-59 the rest of the way – only to miss the playoffs. One bad month (3 weeks) was all it took. Walt has some time, maybe not a lot of time. I hope he’s on the phone now finding out the price of business, even if he waits a couple of weeks to see if he needs to pull the trigger on a deal.

  27. If we’re talking 4-6 months, then what I would love to see happen is Choo move over to LF, Heisey go to CF, and call up that Robinson guy from Spring Training to be the backup CF.

    We know Heisey can play CF defense at GABP at an average to an above average level. Choo would probably feel more comfortable in a corner… plus that Robinson guy is a CF, so he could spell Heisey at times.

    • @ToddAlmighty: Just realized that Heisey batting 2nd could either be the worst or the best thing for this team. If Heisey is batting 2nd with Choo batting 1st, then expect even more bunts than Phillips would have gotten because Heisey’s a really good bunter.

      Heisey will end up with like 100 sac bunts, and Votto will end up with like 120 IBB.

  28. Put me in the category of those who don’t think Ludwick was going to make a big impact anyway. The bigger problem with his loss isn’t production but it de-Dusty proofs our lineup from Day 1.

    On the trade front, I think Leake is the one guy you don’t move of the scenarios being kicked around. If you do then you have no good fallback options if Chapman to the rotation fails. And Chapman, because of the organization’s incompetence, is still an unknown quantity as a starter. in my opinion either trade Chapman for a stud LF or dip into the minor league depth for a stopgap player.

    • @Jason1972: I also am in the camp that Ludwick was going to regress from last year. For the short term, the internal options of Heisey/Paul and Lutz will have to do. Perhaps one of them will rise to the occasion. In the medium term, if WJ could get the Cubs to swallow much of Alfonso Soriano’s contract, why not? In the long run, teams would give up a whole lot for Chapman, who is underutilized here, but I would want a controllable young RH power hitter in return.

      I’d want the Reds to do a whole lot of scouting before trading Chapman, and they will need some a few weeks into the season to do it.

  29. Not that I don’t think Ludwick would have made an impact on this team. But, production from the 4 hole is a worry for me on this team. We have to have someone in there to make people pitch to Votto. And, sorry, I just never saw Ludwick as a Matt Halliday (sp?) or Prince Fielder. I like Choo, but I thought we would have been better served by going after a 4 hole hitter.

    Given Ludwick, I do believe Baker will move BP to the 4 hole and put most anyone else in the 2 hole. I just hope he goes with someone and keeps them there, and not do some sort of three headed monster in the 2 hole. I could see Heisey, Todd, Cozart, and others. Given the fact that Baker apparently doesn’t worry about his 2 hole hitter hitting into double plays (he admitted that BP does that a lot, even though not nearly as often as he actually gets a hit), I could see Hanigan going in that spot. Baker will probably go with Cozart. I hope Cozart can find the bat that left him after he got injured.

  30. What is Willy Mo Pena doing these days?

  31. In a dream world, I would send Chapman and a top prospect (yes, even Billy) to Miami for Stanton.

  32. The speculation about Ludwick’s production and impact this season from the cleanup slot behind Votto is now pointless. I was actually expecting a pretty good season from Ludwick, but we are now dealing with the situation without having Ludwick available. Votto returned last season as a shell of the hitter he was when healthy. Fortunately, Votto is simply an extraordinary and intelligent hitter and he was able to compensate for his power deficiency by enhancing the hitting skills he still had available. Ludwick is not the same type of hitter (I’m not sure anyone is) as Votto. Ludwick is all about power. Without his power game, Ludwicl will simply not be productive this season (see his San Diego seasons). This is a serious, prolonged injury for a power hitter. Whatever plan of action the Reds decide to pursue, it has to account for the entire season.

  33. I don’t understand the panic. Ludwick was worth 2.6 wins last year. Heisey was worth 1.2 in more limited playing time. We’re talking about the loss of one win. Which, sure, could prove significant on October 1. But I don’t think it justifies a massive trade on April 3. Move Choo to LF, play Heisey in CF. That’s still a vast improvement over last year of having Stubbs in CF.

  34. It’ll be tough to find a trade partner this early in the season without the needs/haves lining up right!

    I agree with @eastcoast redsfan above that we do not want to wait too long to make a move only to have the hole get too big. However, we don’t have an internal option like LA did, as I feel Hamilton needs more seasoning at AAA.

    One outside the box possibility would be to look at prying Granderson away from NYY. They are looking to jettison payroll, by their recent actions. His broken arm is healing well and is expected back in a few weeks. This would diminish the prospect cost too. Maybe, I’m not sure, but it would be a bold move.

    • @Lost and Found:

      Here’s a thought: What if the Reds don’t fall into a hole at all, and in fact thrive and have a lead of a couple of games at the end of the month?

      Why do people automatically assume the Reds are going to tank if someone gets injured? It’s baffling.

      • @CI3J:

        Sorry, but you’ve misjudged my unmade prediction.

        I think they’ll be fine in the short run with an internal fix, much like last year with Votto’s knee injury. However, I do feel they will need a move as spring turns to summer.

        My comment was to highlight (much as eastcoastRF’s did) their own 2011 slow start and the 2012 LAA April debacle as cautionary tales about how a slow start give you little margin for error elsewhere in the season.

  35. Man, I did not realize the complications caused by this injury till I read your piece. I did not have high expectations from Ludwick, as I see him as inconsistent and slump-prone. But his #4 placement did limit Dusty’s options, keeping Cozart down low in the lineup and Phillips out of the #4 hole, where he tends to do less well. This is a bad development.

    • @Mark T: Actually Phillips has his best OPS hitting 4th.

      My preference is Frazier hitting 2nd, Phillips 4th, and Heisey 6th.

  36. What some on here who are talking trade aren’t considering is what to do once Ludwick is ready to go. If we trade for someone using just pitchers, then yes, we would have our Ludwick replacement. But, then, what happens once Ludwick is ready to return? Do we trade Ludwick? Teams aren’t going to give much on a guy that old coming back from injury without proof he’s alright. Play Ludwick? Then bench who? The guy we traded so much for in the first place? Bruce? Choo? It’s a lot easier to say “Just trade someone and/or for someone”. You need to have someone else on the other side of that trade. So, then, do we just let the player we traded for go? Let Bruce go? Choo? Ludwick?

    I think we have players good enough to fill in for Ludwick in Heisey and Paul. They aren’t the style of batter Ludwick is. So, the batting order will need to be restructured. The thing wrong with that is Baker has to make another decision, not necessarily a good thing. Defensively, I think we get even better; we will be fine. Offensively, I think we become bit of a different type of team. Not as much a worse team, but definitely a different type of team, one not relying so much on the HR ball. Sorry, Baker, you have to think more singles and doubles, stolen bases, etc., aka “small ball”.

    Without a trade (I said before the injury I think a trade could be brewing involving the relievers), I would think the club would look at BP, Bruce, or Frazier for the 4 hole. With Baker, it will be BP. Baker won’t hit two lefties in a row, period. And, he won’t think that much of Frazier to do the job; he will say “too young”. Lord knows Baker won’t think outside the box and consider something like Choo, BP, and Votto in the 2, 3, and 4 holes. Or, since Baker stated that BP is prone to grounding into double plays, since he must not worry that much about double plays from the 2 hole person, move Hanigan up to the 2 hole.

    If we trade, I just hope we have something planned for when Ludwick comes back. For, it would probably take a bundle to trade for power 4 hole guy. And, once Ludwick is back, we would possibly have about a $7 million (or more) player riding the bench. While it would be nice to have that kind of luxury, I don’t think this team will have that kind of luxury. And, I can’t see us trading for a one year rental, freeing the position back up for Ludwick automatically. So, “if” we make a trade, I would think it would have to include Bruce or Frazier (if an outfielder, then include Bruce; if a 3rd baseman, then include Frazier; along with a couple of pitchers). Make sure they are a power batter, right handed for Baker (geez). Then, the team loses little ground anywhere offensively I believe. And, when Ludwick comes back, he could pretty much go back into his same defensive position, possibly dropping in the batting order.

  37. No trades, please. At least not yet. Let’s see what Frazier hitting 2nd, Phillips 4th, and Heisey 6th can do.

    They’ll bring up Phipps, btw.

    • @TC:

      They’ll bring up Phipps, btw.

      Opinion or source? I believe it should be Phipps, but I haven’t seen any update other than the removal of Ludwick from the 25 man roster, leaving an open slot.

  38. I know it won’t happen, but I would move Choo to left field, here he is more comfortable, and Heisey to center where he is comfortable. Then bring up Robinson to backup Heisey. It’s too early to make a trade; let’s not panic.

  39. Tonight’s lineup is out. Heisey in LF and batting second. Brandon Phillips batting clean-up.

    1. Shin-Soo Choo (L) CF
    2. Chris Heisey (R) LF
    3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
    4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
    5. Jay Bruce (L) RF
    6. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
    7. Zack Cozart (R) SS
    8. Ryan Hanigan (R) C
    9. Mat Latos (R) P

  40. I’m a little surprised by all the calls for a trade immediately. First off, there are no good trades available. The Reds could get a guy like Soriano (like the Yankees got Wells) but that would mean taking on a bunch of salary. Other than that, no teams are looking to make a blockbuster on day 3 of the season. The Reds would have to severely overpay.

    Second, when I’ve been talking to all of my friends during spring training, we all agreed that an injury to Ludwick was the injury that we could most easily weather. Yeah, it sucks, because it hurts the bench and is a little bit of a drop off, but it’s just not that bad.

    My real concern about this injury is that Ludwick, at his age, may just be done. This injury could really affect his power, and if he loses even a little pop, his value moves quickly to zero. I think this may be a bigger problem in 2013 than it is now. Now he’s on the DL, next year he may just be ineffective.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2013 Reds


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