We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this topic. My answer is probably going to be incredibly long.
First, I have to agree that yes-- all things equal, owners probably want to see the guys making the bigger money playing on a regular basis. Add yes, if he's benched- then they would prefer to trade him. (See Ethier or Kemp)
Can we agree that the Reds have close to zero money available to spend this offseason?
Can we agree that Ludwick's contract is excessive for someone of his production?
Can we agree that Ludwick is 35 years old and will turn 36 in July? And his best days are most likely behind him?
Can we agree that LF is an option the Reds should consider upgrading with a short term solution until hopefully Ervin is ready in 18 months to 24 months?
If the Reds can find a better option than Ludwick @ LF that doesn't break the bank, it's something the Reds need to seriously need to look at. If that means finding someone who replaces him or platoons with him- it's something to look @.
Part of the job of the manager is to put the best players on the team on the field @ the same time regardless of players salaries. Can we kind of agree on this point? Sort of? (Heck, it's not like Ludwick is a Star like Votto or Bruce-- he's just an expensive average player)
Unfortunately for the Reds, they are full of 4th OF's for the LF spot. (Heisey, Schumacher etc.) The Reds currently do not have a LF on the roster who is better than Ludwick. I think we can all agree to this point. Ludwick is currently the best option the Reds have in LF.
Cheap Reds options in the farm system are 2 years away. Winker and Ervin should be starting in AA next year. Lutz in AAA, and it's not like his AA #'s were that great. He's not a future starting OF anyway IMO.
If the Reds want an upgrade in LF, they will have to find one currently not on their roster or in their farm system.
Going back to the question of players who make alot of money who are benched. For example, what happens next year in LA, when Crawford, Kemp, Ethier and Puig are all healthy? Puig isn't getting benched, so that means 1 of Ethier, Crawford and Kemp are starting the season on the bench. Right now, possibly Ethier and his his $17mm contract. all 3 of those guys have massive contracts.
Would there be a revolt in LA if Ethier started over Puig? Yes there would. It's not a perfect example for the Reds, because the Reds don't have a Puig that would slot into LF to replace Ludwick. So salary doesn't necessarily equate to starting if you have a viable backup. In this case, Puig for the Dodgers.
Yes, the Dodgers would like to trade Ethier (or Kemp) but their contracts are massive. $71mm over 4 years left for Ethier-- and Kemp-- $128mm through 6 years and he has shoulder and ankle issues.
The Dodgers are finding it hard to trade Ethier who is younger and better than Ludwick. You right-- expensive players on the bench are usually prime candidates to get traded.
Which gets me back to one of my previous statements that Ludwick's contract is untradeable. I think the Reds know he is overpaid, but they really can't move him even though they would LOVE to. I don't know who would pay that much money for that little production and trade a player for it.
I have no idea where I'm really going with this, since it's late and I need to sleep.
I haven't sufficiently articulated my point, that just because Ludwick is making alot of money doesn't mean that the Reds shouldn't look @ that position as a possible position to try and upgrade. They really should-- even Ludwick's best years weren't that good. He's likely to be piss poor this season. (Watch him bat .260 and hit 30 HR's now) OK, piss poor is harsh, but lets say he is somewhere between .5 and 1.1 WaR. That's not that great. If I can find a $3mm option or less who will hit better than him- i'm taking it every day of the freaking week.
The Manager wants to win-- if he doesn't win, he's getting canned. If Ludwick is batting .212 with 4 hr's @ the end of May, don't you think the manager will be looking for a replacement? salary be damned. Skip really isn't a good option in LF for a handful of games because he really isn't that much better vs RHP compared to LHP and he has no pop.
My original point of looking @ Schierholtz is because he's an upgrade over Ludwick vs RHP. He will make about $4mm next year which is about all the Reds can afford if even that.
He had 409 AB's vs RHP last year, and hit 20 HR's. He slugged .499 and he's an ok right fielder defensively. Ludwick was -6.8 UZR/150 in 2012, and -23.5 in 2013.
Schierholtz UZR/150 was 2.5 and -1.1 in 2012 and 2013. Schierholtz is better defensively than Ludwick and can also play RF. (For the few rare games when maybe Bruce gets moved to CF when BHam needs a day off)
I know Ludwick is making money, but if the Reds can add someone who will hit better than him vs RHP and also play better Defense while not costing an arm and a leg, shouldn't it be something the Reds are looking @?
I'm sure there are probably better, cheaper options than Schierholtz. Just someone who is a monster vs RHP and isn't stonehenge in LF defensively.
We will have to agree to disagree-- but I firmly feel if the Reds can't find a solid fulltime LF to replace Ludwick (which they can't because they are broke and Winker/ERvin are not ready) Then the Reds need to look into finding a LH batter with extreme splits favoring his production vs RHP and who is also cheap- the Reds should look into it as a means to upgrade their hitting for 2014.
Heck, when the Reds have zero money to spend, you need to get creative trying to improve production on the field. If it means taking advantage of matchups, do it to it.