It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this, so I will try and be objective as I can. My initial reaction is Mozeliak got totally fleeced on this deal, to put it nicely, but let’s take a look.
First the prospect: Nick Greenwood is 22 years old, left-handed and has a 6 K/9 in the Midwest League. He was a 14th round pick in last year’s draft. He did not make Baseball America’s Top 30 Padres list last season, for what it’s worth, and it’s unlikely he rates very highly in our system either by seasons end. He has fringe stuff, save for a decent change-up, but he has good command. He’s a C grade pitcher, arms of his ilk are a dime a dozen.
So forget the player coming over providing much of anything. What this really signals is a huge vote of confidence for a couple of former Future Redbirds: Jon Jay, and I’d throw Allen Craig in there as well. Mozeliak has to feel that Jay and Craig can match Ryan Ludwick’s production for the rest of the season. Jay has been a man on fire so far and LaRussa no longer has to take away at-bats from Colby Rasmus (good news!) or Ludwick.
Now obviously, the Cardinals know Jay cannot sustain hitting like a mad man for the rest of the season. He has a crazy .446 BABIP this season, so he’s due for some regression. What does it take to replace Ludwick? ZiPS projects Luddy to post a .363 wOBA the rest of the season. Assuming a couple runs of defense and 250 plate appearances, that’s about a win of production (1.3 WAR, to be exact) of production to fill. Can a Jon Jay/Allen Craig platoon match that? I don’t have the projections in front of me, but I doubt it. Considering Craig hits lefties, and Jay continues some semblance of good-hitting, a .340-.345 wOBA seems completely reasonable. That’s about a 5 run gap left to fill.
Well, Westbrook fills that gap. Westbrook projects around a 4.45 FIP for the rest of the season. Over 50 innings that equals 6 runs. Suppan is a replacement level pitcher, so Westbrook is 6 runs better than Suppan. The Cardinals barely improved, if at all, but here’s where salary comes to play.
Westbrook’s salary will be covered by Cleveland. Ludwick is due around $2 mil the rest of the season, if not a little more, and he’s going into his last year of arbitration next year. He would probably make $8 or so mil in arbitration. If the team deemed that pricetag too high, he’d be non-tendered (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) and the Cardinals get no compensation. So this is some sort of compensation now.
The Cardinals, at least on paper, didn’t get a lot worse I guess…and they get some salary relief next year from Ludwick to help try and re-up the Mang. I think they’re maybe better in the long run, and about the same in the short run, just so long as Westbrook doesn’t crap the bed and Jay/Craig play as about expected. Is that hoping for too much?
I’m afraid this is some sort of misguided endorsement of Jon Jay (from the front office that brought you: Kyle Lohse was flukily good for one year, so let’s re-sign him!) and Dave Duncan (Westbrook + Duncan = teh awesome FTW!). To me it makes more sense to hold on to Ludwick, get San Diego out of this deal and work directly with the Indians, and then shop Ludwick in the winter time if you find his price-tag too constrictive.
Maybe there’s something that will still happen today with the middle infield before 3pm that helps me understand this more, because I get the deal…except I really don’t get it.