The difference between the Padres having Ryan Ludwick and the Reds having Ryan Ludwick is that the Padres were relying on him to be one of their main run producers and the Reds aren’t.
Following the trade of Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres offense was predictably horrific. Acquisitions made to counteract Gonzalez’s departure—Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson and the retention of Ludwick—were supposed to help them at least stay reasonably competitive. Built on strong pitching, the logic sort of made sense.
Of course it didn’t work in practice.
Ludwick had been a pretty good journeyman bat before he had his career year in 2008 batting mostly between Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus. Before and after that, he’d either been an extra bat who had some pop or was surrounded by unintimidating mediocrity in the batting order.
As a Padre in 2011, Ludwick batted .218 at home with 5 homers and a .302 on base percentage. Overall, he wasn’t much better on the road so the cavernous PetCo Park can’t be blamed for his lack of power. When he was sent to the Pirates at the trading deadline, he went from the team that finished 15th in the National League in runs scored to the team that finished 14th.
He didn’t help the Pirates either.
Is that Ludwick’s fault?
He is what he is and what he is will help the Reds.
Ludwick will function much better as an “oh yeah, him” batter in the bottom of the order who’ll hit 20 homers in a power-friendly park and have the opposing pitchers saying, “oh yeah, him” rather than rolling their eyes that he’s batting 4th and a team actually expected to compete with that the case.
Bear in mind that this is Dusty Baker we’re talking about as Reds manager so there’s every possibility that he’ll find a way to write Corey Patterson’s name in the lineup despite the fact that Patterson is not on his team. But with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips andDrew Stubbs, there won’t be any overwhelming expectations for Ludwick to repeat that 37 homer, .966 OPS performance he posted in 2008. It was a great season that won’t happen again.
But the Reds needed a veteran outfielder and they got one cheaply ($2.5 million) and on a short-term basis (1-year) in Ludwick.
They’re going for it in 2012 and this is a good move.