Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!
Nov. 13, 2007: One of the greatest days in Reds history: John Allen gets the boot!
I love Ludwick. But he caught lightning in a bottle this year. I don't think it's likely he repeats that performance. I wish him luck, and move in another direction.
If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve!
And in the specific case of Ryan Ludwick, he's laid claim to those different factors. His story, as related in numerous interviews in late May and early June, is that he adopted a lot of bad habits trying to hit at Petco. He tailored his swing to the park, and that followed him on the road. One month playing Pittsburgh at the end of 2011 wasn't enough time to fix anything. It was only after starting to get regular playing time with the Reds that he kicked all those bad habits, and went back to his old approach. And voila: his numbers went back to their old selves, too.
Now, I'm not even close to being an eagle-eyed enough swing doctor to know if he's telling the truth, or just tossing out some malarkey to try to explain away the crazy ups and downs of baseball... but as far as anecdotal evidence goes, it DOES seem to fit the facts.
Ludwick's first 3 years in STL as a regular averaged out to .280/.350/.510 (.860 OPS)... his first half of 2010 (still in STL) was .281/.343/.484 (.827 OPS), which is roughly in line with his career up to that point, minus a bit of power (which could just have been a figment of the small sample size in 300 AB). Everything was still dandy when he got traded to SD.
Then a full season in Petco, plus about 40 games after being traded to PIT, all while picking up all kinds of bad habits, resulted in roughly a .230/.310/.330 (.640 OPS) line.
Head to Cincinnati, finally get the swing fixed up, and over the course of the season, he puts up .275/.345/.530 (.875 OPS), which looks strangely familiar. Ludwick just may have a bona fide justification for his fluctuations over time.
I don't have any foolish notions that Ludwick will ever be the hitter his was in June/July/August this past year, especially not at 33 or 34 or whatever. But I think it is perfectly realistic that he could put up another season or two of overall numbers in that neighborhood.
That said, I'd probably have reservations about any new deal that includes a guaranteed third year, or an annual average value much more than $7-8m. Age is not on Ludwick's side, and the way the Reds have been handing out the cash the past two off-seasons and the presumed payroll limitations, this could quickly turn into exactly the kind of mistake the Reds can't afford to make...
"Losing feels worse than winning feels good." -Vin Scully
Lot more tread on Cabrera's tires. Phillips was still young and unproven.they said very similar things about Brandon Phillips while he was at the mistake by the lake. Just sayin'.
"Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini
I have no doubt Lud will re-sign with the Reds for two years and somewhere around $13-14 million total. ($6.5 or $7 million per season.)
If he can get more elsewhere, good for him. He was a huge piece of the puzzle this year and I want him back, but the Reds can't (and won't) overpay for him.
I bet it all works out though. He seems to like Cincinnati, they like him, he probably won't get a better offer ... add it all up and I'd say the odds are definitely in favor of Ludwick remaining a Red.
I wouldn't give two years guaranteed for him. Another year with a team option. Someone give him more, let him go.
"But I do know Joey's sister indirectly (or foster sister) and I have heard stories of Joey being into shopping, designer wear, fancy coffees, and pedicures."