His name is Ryan Ludwick. He also goes by the nickname “Studwick”. He’s an All-Star and a Silver Slugger Award winner. He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI’s in 2008.
He plays outfield (occasionally) for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Think you’re smarter than Cardinals all-knowing, all-powerful, future hall of fame, super genius manager Tony La Russa? Well, you’re not. You’d play Ryan Ludwick every day, wouldn’t you?
Wouldn’t you, 89 year-old grandmother filling out a scorecard in the upper deck? Wouldn’t you, ever-so-delicious nachos supreme vendor? Wouldn’t you, five year-old whose father is taking him to his first-ever baseball game?
Wouldn’t you, foreign exchange student from Liechtenstein who has never heard of baseball before in his life?
You would all play Ryan Ludwick. Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but that’s why you’re all so stupid. And it’s exactly why the all-knowing, all-powerful, future hall of fame, super genius manager Tony La Russa is so smart. He doesn’t play the 2008 All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner every day.
To quote William Shatner at the closing credits of the 1982 movie Airplane II: The Sequel, “That’s exactly what they’ll be expecting us to do!”
Through the team’s first nine games of 2009, Ludwick has started six. That means he’s rode the pine 33 percent of the time so far, for those of you that don’t have a calculator handy. This brings up one of Grubb Hub’s chief points of contention with Tony La Russa after 14 years. If there’s ever a general consensus between Cardinal fans, media, groupies, etc. that something should be done a particular way, more often than not La Russa has to do the opposite.
It doesn’t take a law degree (La Russa has a Juris Doctor from Florida State) to figure out that the Cardinals are a better team when Ludwick is in the lineup, preferably batting behind Albert Pujols.
The job of the manager is to put the lineup on the field that gives his team the best chance to win every day. At this point, I’m not sure how that lineup can ever not include Ryan Ludwick.
Baseball is not rocket science, contrary to what La Russa would have you believe. It’s not astrophysics either. It’s just plain old baseball for crying out loud. It’s not supposed to be that damn complicated.
La Russa and his disciples also believe that he, above all else, is the reason for his players’ success. It’s because of his complicated matrix of lineup alterations, the way he strategically inserts, removes and shuffles players up and down the lineup and in the field.
It could not possibly be that, despite his constant foot-dragging with regard to any sort of youth movement, perhaps some of these guys general manager John Mozeliak has brought in might just be pretty good ballplayers.
Then again, La Russa is not exactly the world’s greatest judge of talent. Thinking of course that Ludwick’s productive second half of 2007 was merely a fluke, it was La Russa that wanted management to sign Barry Bonds the following offseason. Too bad, we could have had Super Freak Head to go with Super Genius.
He also let Juan Gonzalez waste everyone’s time patrolling the outfield during spring training 2008, despite being out of the game for three years. Oh Juanny Boy, if only you could remain upright for an entire ballgame, how good you could have been!
Think about it, how much playing time do you think Ludwick would have received last year if he had to contend with Bonds and/or Gonzalez in addition to Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, Chris Duncan, and the rest?
La Russa has long pined for an “extra bat in the lineup” to offer protection for Albert Pujols – even mentions it still to this day – when all along it has been right under his nose. I mean, what is Ryan Ludwick, chopped liver?
I guess an All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner just isn’t good enough to hit behind Pujols.
Here at Grubb Hub, we believe that some of La Russa’s constant lineup fluctuations actually do benefit some players. Bench players get a chance to contribute and stay sharp, more so than they would on about any other team. Certainly, not all of these young guys are everyday players in the making.
But there has to be some middle ground. La Russa’s nightly personal game of Lineup Concentration shouldn’t be to the detriment of the guys that really are everyday players, a standing Ludwick has unquestionably earned at this point. He is the best and most consistent hitter in a fairly talented group of outfielders.
It was the same story for Ludwick in the first few months of the 2008 season, when he was a National League All-Star before he was an everyday player for the Cardinals; when he was among the league leaders in nearly every major offensive category – if only he had enough at bats to qualify.
What else does Ludwick have to do to prove he deserves to play every day? Even the man himself is asking that question now.
Careful, big boy. Tread lightly when talking to the press about Tony La Russa. You think the mind games and inconsistent playing time are bad now? They’ll be 113 times worse (one for every RBI you had last year) if you even come close to questioning the super genius publicly.
But really, what does he have to do at this point? Ludwick has done nothing but produce in the 1-1/2 years since joining the Cardinals. A right-handed batter, he has even hit right-handed pitchers better than lefties during his St. Louis tenure – a Scanners-inducing moment for La Russa when he pours over that statistic, to be certain.
Would you play Ryan Ludwick every day? Of course you would.
In 2009, will Tony? Well, you’d have to be a super genius to know that.