I’m only just starting this and it feels mean. I don’t like writing that I think a player should be cut, but I try to be honest with myself, and if I’m being honest, Ryan Ludwick needs to go.

Two years ago, Ludwick signed a two-year extension. At the time, I didn’t mind it. I thought odds were it would be an okay deal. Not great, but not terrible. I had hold of some numbers that convinced me that San Diego really had messed with his numbers. Then, as you all know, he blew out his shoulder and he hasn’t been the same since. And so, we are faced with some hard facts.

Ryan Ludwick’s value comes from his power.

Ryan Ludwick is 35. An age at which power declines rapidly.

He’s coming off a shoulder injury that can also sap power.

In the half season he’s managed to play since he signed the extension, Ludwick is hitting .243/.309/.332.

Time to cut bait.

I don’t know Ryan Ludwick. He’s probably a reasonable human being. I do know that the one thing he’s ever been able to do at a truly major league level is hit. Mostly for power. He doesn’t run. He’s not much of a fielder. But he can hit. That’s been the line. Except now he can’t.

I get that Ryan Ludwick is making a lot of money, but frankly, I have a hard time believing the Reds would be worse off with Donald Lutz (or whoever else) in left every day. This team has a lot of issues, but Ludwick is the biggest one. Every other starter brings some real skill to the table and indeed, Ludwick is the only starter producing at below replacement level (-0.1 fWAR currently). He’s followed closely by Jay Bruce’s injured knee at 0.0, but the difference between those two is about nine years and a lot of talent.

It’s still relatively early, but the Reds have fallen off the pace. If they want to contend this year, they need to make the call soon and go for it. If they want to go for it, they need someone else in left.