MLB Trade Deadline: Jake Westbrook To The Cardinals A Great Deal

Dan TylickiAnalyst IJuly 31, 2010

CLEVELAND - JUNE 17:  Jake Westbrook #37 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the New York Mets during the game on June 17, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

One of the many deadline deals involves a team long out of the running for a pennant and two teams who are competing against each other, or at least they might in the playoffs. The Indians traded Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals, who in turn traded Ryan Ludwick to the Padres.

It's a good trade for the Padres because they need hitting, which Ludwick provides. The Indians are looking to get younger, and by acquiring a Double-A prospect they do just that.

As for the Cardinals, the trade can be looked at from two different points of view.

The first one is that the Cardinals do not have much in the back of their starting rotation, and needed a reliable fourth or fifth starter, which Westbrook is, so the trade works perfectly.

The second one is that the Cardinals need hitting, not pitching, as evidenced by a struggling infield and the most dominant group of three starters in the league, perhaps. As a result, this trade is entirely stupid and is going to screw the Cardinals over.

For now I take the first point of view. Jake Westbrook has never had a great season, but he has never had a terrible one either. In all his seasons where he has made at least 20 starts, his best ERA is 3.38 while his worst ERA is 4.65.

It's looking like the Cardinals are not going to get Kyle Lohse or Brad Penny back this season. They need someone to step in at the tail end along with Jeff Suppan, though he's been struggling as well. Blake Hawksworth as the fifth starter is not panning out either.

The Cardinals do not need another 2.50 ERA starter; they have plenty of those (everyone could always use another, of course). They need a pitcher who can force ground balls and keep an ERA under 5 so that they can stay in the playoff hunt.

That is only half the story, of course. Many are wondering how the Cardinals are going to replace Ryan Ludwick, who has been very solid in one of the best outfields in the National League. They have a young guy named Jon Jay who can step right in. Jay, in 111 AB's, is hitting .396 and has scored 21 runs. I think the Cardinals will be fine with him in their lineup.

The Cardinals want to keep the Reds off their tail. By solidifying the end of their rotation, they should do just that. I'd take Westbrook over Aaron Harang right now, at least. That's what this trade is about; Westbrook may not see a playoff game at all, and that's fine. They need him for right now.