When the lineup came out tonight for the Cardinals game there was an audible groan from certain members of the sports department. OK from almost the entire sports department. Ryan Ludwick wasn't in the starting lineup tonight.
Why in the world was Ryan Ludwick not in the lineup? There doesn't seem to be a logical reason to it. There is no question in my mind that Ludwick should have been in. He is hot and none of the numbers supports overwhelmingly a reason to not have him in the lineup. It wasn't like Chris Duncan (2-7 HR, 4 RBI) or Skip Schumaker (2-7) had some unbelievable numbers against Shawn Chacon. Ludwick by the way is 0-1 career against Chacon. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. For the record Rick Ankiel is 2-6 against Chacon so he makes obvious sense.
That being said I'll give Tony La Russa the benefit of the doubt. It seems like there are at least a good 10-15 times a year that all of Cardinals Nation gets very frustrated with how Tony uses his bullpen or how he sets his lineup. When things like this flare up through the season I almost always give Tony the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because over the long haul Tony seems to press the right buttons and he certainly has won more games then he has lost here in St. Louis.
The one thing I have always admired about Tony's managing style is that he uses all 25 players. He gives players enough rest early in the season that when they need wins down the stretch his team is fresher than the others.
So for all the screaming and wringing of hands over what Tony does in the long term you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. As it turns out the problem tonight wasn't Ludwick not being in the lineup. It had more to do with Braden Looper having a bad start.