Another solid addition
Will the addition of OF Ryan Ludwick tip the scales and give the Reds firm control of the NL Central over the Cardinals and Brewers? Probably not. However, this is a good solid signing (pending a passed physical) for what is likely a reasonable cost in a one-year deal. And it comes on the heels of other strong additions (Madson, Marshall, Latos).
GM Walt Jocketty told me on Friday that the Reds were seeking a guy with some power for left field/the bench. They wanted a character guy in the clubhouse. From what I’ve heard, he brings that element with him to Cincinnati.
The Reds only had budget room for a smaller-level signing. A guy like Cody Ross had them interested earlier in this season but Ross was seeking a multi-year deal, Jocketty said last week. That all but priced Ross out of coming here.
Ludwick is a long way from the salad days of smacking 37 homers and driving in 113 runs like he did for St. Louis in 2008. Last season, he dipped to .237 with 13 home runs last season in a combined 139 games with the Padres and Pirates.
But remember that Ludwick played 101 games for San Diego and a large amount of those were at Petco Park, which is known as a vast pitchers’ ballpark. He had a .674 OPS for the Padres while his career OPS is .787.
In 30 games at GABP, Ludwick has a .921 OPS to go with a .276 average, nine homers and 21 RBIs. And we all know that GABP is as hitter friendly as Petco isn’t.
Last season Ludwick batted .264 vs. left-handed pitchers and .228 against right-handers, yet he has been better over his career vs. righties (.272) than lefties (.237).
Dusty Baker has had praise for Ludwick the past couple of seasons. That doesn’t mean Chris Heisey should clean out his locker — far from it. This is a move that improves depth since there were only three true outfielders on the 40-man roster with big league experience.
I can envision an unconventional type of platoon in LF this season for Heisey and Ludwick and opportunities for Ludwick to spell Jay Bruce at times in right field.