Padres Load Up with Ludwick, Cardinals Get Westbrook

Two pennant contenders pulled off a three-team deal involving a last-place club, and in the end, everyone got what they wanted.

The San Diego Padres sent AA pitcher Corey Kluber to Cleveland and A-ball LHP Nick Greenwood to the Cardinals in exchange for slugging outfielder Ryan Ludwick. As part of the deal, the Indians sent veteran starter Jake Westbrook to St. Louis.

The trade comes two days after the Padres traded for infielder Miguel Tejada. San Diego holds a slim 2.5-game lead over the second-place Giants, and are 19 games over .500, mainly thanks to strong pitching and the one-man offense known as Adrian Gonzalez. The additions of Tejada and Ludwick could be the difference in whether the Padres can hold their lead through September and enter the playoffs.

At the same time, the Cardinals — who hold a similarly slim lead over the Reds in the NL Central — get the starter they so sorely need after their rotation was decimated by injuries to Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. Westbrook may not be spectacular, but he should be a better innings-eater than Blake Hawksworth and Jeff Suppan. Who knows, the Dave Duncan Factor may also push Westbrook to another level.

Meanwhile, the Mets remain status quo. They do not seem concerned about their half-game lead over the fourth-place Marlins.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.