By John Franco
The Pirates weren’t done trading after acquiring Derrek Lee from the Orioles last night. On Sunday, they also added Ryan Ludwick from the Padres for a player to be named later. According to San Diego GM Jed Hoyer, the Pirates provided the Padres with a list of 3 players, and the Padres will get to pick whichever they want.
As of Sunday night, I haven’t seen any speculation on who those players might be. Remember that players drafted in the 2010 amateur draft can’t be traded until a year after they signed, but I wouldn’t think that the list contains Stetson Allie or even Alex Dickerson. Of course, the most attractive thing about Ludwick might be his status as a potential Type B free agent.
That means that the Pirates would get a compensation pick in the 2012 draft if they offer him arbitration after the season and he declines. In a vacuum, that might sound like a great idea, but Ludwick might accept arbitration and hope for a better contract than he could get on the open market. Hoyer talked about keeping Heath Bell because he didn’t get an offer better than the two first round picks that Bell would have earned the Padres as a Type A free agent, so it’s safe to assume that the Padres know that Ludwick’s Type B status isn’t particularly valuable.
Here we are on paragraph number four, and we haven’t talked about Ludwick’s on-field prowess. That probably tells you all you need to know about him. Ludwick has a line of .238/.301/.373 (.298 wOBA+ and 93 wRC+) with the Padres. PETCO Park hasn’t really been the problem, either, as Ludwick has a .299 wOBA+ and 94 wRC+ on the road this year.
You would think that moving from PETCO to PNC Park would help Ludwick’s power, but reviews are mixed in that regard. Eno Sarris points out that PNC is actually tougher on righties than PETCO, but a quick look at Ludwick’s home run chart shows that all of his home runs at Petco would have cleared the fences at PNC, and he also has a couple of fly balls (orange dots) that could have cleared the wall.
Much like Derrek Lee, Ludwick does do one thing relatively well – he has a .314 wOBA+ against lefties. In 101 games, he has a UZR of +2.8 runs, playing almost exclusively in left field for the Padres. One thing that Neal Huntingon has done this week is make the Pirates a little more dangerous against left-handed pitching, acquiring two sluggers who are both more powerful versions of Steve Pearce. Given Clint Hurdle‘s preference for platoons, Ludwick gives the Pirates another piece to mix and match.
Hurdle and Huntington will have an interesting puzzle to assemble once Alex Presley returns from the DL. Assuming that Jose Tabata is several weeks away from returning, the Pirates will then have Presley, Garrett Jones, Matt Diaz, Ludwick and Xavier Paul in the outfield. The logical move for the Pirates to make room for Lee is to release Lyle Overbay or demote Steve Pearce. Similarly, Diaz or Pearce could go to make room for Ludwick, with either Paul or the “winner” of the Overbay/Pearce/Diaz trifecta making room for Presley.
The Pirates didn’t do much to improve their team when they added Lee last night, and it seems they did even less when they added Ludwick today. Huntington won big early in the season by betting on double-zero, and this weekend he elected to keep betting the minimum instead of letting it ride. It’s hard to blame him – double-zero doesn’t come up all that often – but he’s betting his winnings that the fans will be satisfied with staying at the table a little longer.