Monday, August 1, 2011

Lee & Ludwick - Enough?

OK, the Bucs got Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick to bolster their roster for the two month stretch run. Are they enough to get the Bucs over the hump?

One thing both guys will add is dependable defense. Lee sports a 5.3 UZR/150 (Lyle Overbay's was -10.1) while Luwick's is 4.1 (Matt Diaz's is 1.1). So that's a plus; the play at first and right haven't been exactly stellar.

But let's be real; they were brought in to provide a little more thump. Lee has found his power stroke in July, drilling half of this dozen homers last month, although he hit just .250. Ludwig is sort of the opposite; after a hot May and June, he took a dive in July, hitting .172 with a homer. He also has a reverse split during his lifetime, although this season he's hitting southpaws at a .264 clip, almost 35 points higher than righties.

Both players will add to the Bucs' strikeout column; Lee whiffs at a 22.8% rate and Ludwick at a 20.5% clip. They're each in the eighties now in K's, and are sure bets to break the 100 strikeout barrier in 2011.

As a matter of WAR, first base will go from Overbay's -0.8 to Lee's +0.5, so that's gaining a game. In the outfield, though, both Ludwick and Diaz are rated at 0. We can assume Ludwick will hit a home run every so often, which has become a lost art to Diaz, but there's no sabermetric upgrade there.

They didn't bring in any difference makers, and there are a couple of reasons. It was pretty much a seller's market this year, and there were several prospect-rich deals: Ubaldo Jimenez, Eric Bedard, Hunter Pence, Carlos Beltran, etc. that the Pirates wisely passed on since they have neither the depth nor the revenue to wheel and deal. yet, if ever. And in that market, there weren't many corner OF/1B types being dangled, especially factoring in the "hell no, I won't go" feeling players still hold in regards to playing in Pittsburgh .

There were some bullpen arms being offered, and we're sort of surprised they didn't bring in one. But with Ohlie and maybe Evan Meek due back without too much more delay, they decided to not pull the trigger. But you never have too many pitchers. And if the rest of Jose Veras' summer runs like July did (5.68 ERA, 1.5 WHIP), another back ender becomes more necessity than luxury.

They also have a couple of OF'ers coming back soon in Jose Tabata and Alex Presley; one of the great question marks is where Ludwick will fit in when they're both back. Remember, between today and mid-to-late August, three of their current five of six outfielders are going to have to be released.

A big, bold move? The FO was certainly not going to give up much to bring aboard a rental player, and bigger deals are almost always better done over the winter rather than at the deadline. So some spadework may have been laid for future, more blockbuster style moves. And the possibility of picking up a player in August exists as a secondary market.

And lastly, it's a little hard to go all in when your playoff chances are just 9.9%.

They did strengthen the team in the middle of the order, and brought in a couple of RH bats to break up the lineup's lefty tendencies. But the team isn't just one player away yet; the Bucs are a couple of seasons removed from that kind of talent. The biggest improvement they'll make in the short run is when guys like Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata start playing to their potential. And as always, pitching will tell.

They did bring in Jason Grilli, who is a solid middle guy. But they weren't successful in landing a backender, so they'll go with what they got down the stretch; Evan Meek may not be back before September.

The Bucs aren't out of it yet. If they can make hay against the Cubs and Padres while the Brewers and Cards duke it out six times in early August, the game is afoot again. And they'll be in better shape to take advantage of it than they were yesterday.

No comments: