Update: It's a done deal. Ludwick to Padres. Westbrook to Indians. Padres giving up to prospects.
It's unclear who the prospects are but it's probably one to Indians Indians get Cory Kluber, one to Cardinals. Nicholas Greenwood to the Cardinals. Unclear how the $$$ is shaking out. It looks like the Cardinals are getting Jake Westbrook from the Indians and may or may not be sending Ryan Ludwick to the Padres.
Original Story below.
This was the endgame all along right? We kicked the tires on Roy Oswalt scaring half of Cardinal Nation to death but the truth was the team needed someone suited for the backend of the rotation far more than the front. Jake Westbrook is a good player and one the Cardinals need right now. But if the proverbial Gods of Baseball are listening right now, please don't let him get hurt this season.
10:58am: Krasovic tweets that a three-team deal is pending the union's OK: the Padres get Ludwick, the Cardinals get Jake Westbrook and a Padres prospect, and the Indians get prospects.
Westbrook was a workhorse from 2004-2006 for the Indians posting consecutive 200+ inning seasons where he averaged over 4 WAR. In 2007, he signed a 3-year $33 million dollar deal with the Indians. June 7th of 2008, it was announced that he'd be having Tomym John surgery. Westbrook didn't pitch at all in 2009 but has logged 127 innings thus far this season.
Westbrook is a four-pitch pitcher with a low-90s fastball, a cutter, slider and a changeup. He's not going to strikeout many batters but he will get groundballs. Westbrook's command hasn't been quite what it was in previous seasons leaving him with a K/BB ratio below 2.0. No one should argue that Westbrook is a great pitcher at this point. He's more of a known pitcher. We know that he's about 1.5-2.0 wins better than replacement over the course of 200 IP. That means were probably looking at something like a 1 win upgrade compared to Jeff Hawksworth depending on your opinion of how bad those two are in the starting rotation.
With a move from the AL to the NL, a better defensive corps behind him and a pitcher friendly park, Westbrook should do well in St. Louis. If he can regain some of his pre-Tommy John command, he could do better than well. What the Cardinals will ask him for is to take the ball every 5th day and pitch 6 innings. A consistent quality start (he projects for a 4.50 FIP for the rest of the season) is well within his capabilities. I, for one, well-come our M.A.S.H. unit of pitchers -- so long as they all stay away from Adam Wainwright, aka the only pitcher whose arm has not been sliced and diced.
* * *
Well, aren't we the active little Birdies this season. It's not often that the Cardinals move a productive player from the major league squad. Far more often in recent history, they've poached veterans from other clubs trading a slew of prospects. Jason Marquis and J.D. Drew are the two names that come to mind where we've unloaded players from the active roster.
This move shouldn't be a total surprise though. It's coming a little earlier than I think anyone expected but the Ludwick was getting increasingly expensive and the Cardinals have become increasingly enamored of Jon Jay. With Allen Craig continuing to slug it out (.900+ OPS in Memphis), the Cardinals have the latitude to swap an expensive player for a cheaper one without giving up too much ground.
Ryan Ludwick is projected for a .368 wOBA for the rest of the season. Assuming Jay obtains the rest of Ludwick's at bats moving forward, he's about a 6 run downgrade in RF over 250 PAs. That's using a .340 wOBA for Jay moving forward which you could argue is conservative. Jay's been injured for a good portion of his minor league numbers and he's hit well (and luckily) in the majors. .340 wOBA feels right to me but, as with any young player, there's a higher degree of uncertainty due to less data.
Defensively, Jay was always rated very well in the minors. Ryan Ludwick was excellent this year in the majors and has shown an impressive arm from right field. I'm not certain you can argue that Jay is significantly better than Ludwick in the field -- maybe it's a run or two.
This is something like a .5 win downgrade on paper. The Cardinals are making this move to save money in 2010 and 2011. That doesn't make it a bad deal. I actually think it's a prudent one with the impending contract of Albert Pujols. It's simply uncharacteristic of the Cardinals to move a player like Ryan Ludwick mid-season.