This season's trade deadline made me realize the error of my ways. I have become attached. To the whole team. I realized this fact a while back, but did not take my own advice and still let my emotions get in the way. Every player has a special place in my heart for some reason. Especially if they wear the birds on the bat for more than a season. Sometimes it doesn't even take a full season to win me over, though.
When Ryan Ludwick broke through in 2008, I was hooked immediately. Admittedly, I had never heard of Ludwick before that season. But after he took his first John Daly-style "grip it and rip it" swing, I knew I would love him. Maybe it was the intrigue that he threw left handed but batted right handed. Maybe it was that, not totally unlike Edmonds, he did not have great speed but always seemed to make a play no one thought he could make. Or maybe it was just because he played the game the way it is meant to be played- giving every ounce of effort in your body on every single play. Whatever the reason(s) behind my affection, I grew extremely fond of Luddy during his Cardinal career. And I know that I'm not the only one.
It has been well documented in the past 24+ hours that the players in the clubhouse were, somewhat, surprised and, totally, saddened by Luddy's departure from the team. The thing that is not shocking, however, is that the club made a move to get an above average starter to help fill the void left by Lohse and Penny. It is also not a shock to anyone that the player that had to be parted with happened to be a major league outfielder- a place where the team is exceptionally deep. It is just unfortunate that the player had to be who it was. And, as much as we all hate to admit it, it made pretty good sense to make this move right now. Ludwick is a free agent in a few months and with all of the other soon-to-be expiring contracts of the core group (Carp, Waino, and that first baseman), there won't be much money to throw around. It also helps that John Jay (whose name is my name, too. Whenever he goes out, the people always shout "there goes john jay..." Na na na na na na na....) has been absolutely unstoppable since he made his second trip back up to play with the big boys. It does take a right handed bat out of the lineup but Jay is not a typical lefty in that aspect. In his 22 at-bats against left handed pitching, he is hitting .455 and slugging .545. Granted, that is not a huge sampling, but it shows that lefties don't scare him. But it does remain to be seen how well he will hold up down the stretch and (keep your fingers crossed) into the playoffs.
And from Ludwick's point of view, if you're going to be traded, it surely eases the pain for it to happen at the time it did. Hours before being traded, he touched home plate as the game winning run in the city that grew to love him and in the stadium where he was cheered on so many occasions. It was almost like coming full circle for him. In his first season in St. Louis, he lit the world on fire and made his first (hopefully not last) All Star team. And, in his last game as a Cardinal, he came in and hit a pinch hit double, eventually scored the winning run, and made a city smile one last time.