Christian Petersen/Getty Images
This is going down as one of the worst deals in Cardinals history, even if St. Louis does make the playoffs.
By trading something they have a scarcity in (power, outfielders) for something they had a surplus in (starting pitching), St. Louis handicapped themselves for the stretch run.
Just look at these stats:
Ryan Ludwick, with St. Louis:
.281/.343/.484, 11 HR, 43 RBI in 77 games
Jake Westbrook, with Cleveland:
6-7, 4.65 ERA, 1.358 WHIP in 21 GS
This move doesn't make much sense now, and it made even less sense then.
Trading one of your three or four power hitters for a good but not great starter, something you have an overflow of? It befuddled the best minds in baseball.
Granted, Westbrook has improved with the Cardinals, as evidenced by his career bests in nearly all major pitching categories, and Ludwick has struggled in PetCo, a spacious pitchers' paradise.
This trade was a climax of most of the other problems that St. Louis has had: lack of production from the fourth and fifth starters led to this trade, which then triggered a series of deeper problems, including weakening the offense, bringing Jon Jay back to earth, and, most notably, failure to win close games.
With Ludwick, I say the Cardinals are at least leading the Wild Card race, and still contending for the division.
I showed you the raw stats, but look go deeper, and it's clear that this trade was the beginning of the Cardinals' August woes.
For starters, before the trade, St. Louis had 5.37 runners left on base/PA (taking into account the 20-inning game with New York).
Since then, the number has climbed to 5.47, which might seem like a small difference, until you look at the scores of St. Louis games.
Of the Cardinals' 16 losses since the deal, only three have been by four runs or more. That means that, given a few more timely hit, they had a shot to win several more of those games.
Things got even worse recently, when the team lost 13 of 17 games, falling eight back in the Central.
Now, over that span, the Cardinals only lost one game by four or more, and got three of their four wins by four or more. Close games have killed this team.
That's where Ludwick comes in.
With runners in scoring position, Ludwick bats .398.
With two outs, he bats .393.
With two out and runners in scoring position, he hits .429, with 17 RBI.
Ryan Ludwick, unlike the current Cardinals lineup, thrives under pressure. Trading him was the biggest mistake John Mozeliak has made as General Manager.