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Cardinals close to getting Westbrook, dealing Ludwick

Things could get interesting quickly for the Cardinals who are believed to be close to trading for Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook... and to trading right fielder Ryan Ludwick away to the Padres.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports significant progress in the talks for Westbrook, a righty starter with a 6-7 record this season with a 4.65 ERA. Over the course of his career, Westbrook is 69-71 with a 4.34 ERA.

The Cardinals like Westbrook because he's a sinkerballer that would fit their system. No word on what might be headed Cleveland's way. I hope it's not much because the Tribe is reportedly unwilling to eat much of Westbrook's paycheck.

The Ludwick rumor, which come from AOL Fanhouse, is something of a surprise because why would a team that is struggling offensively be willing to part with one of its offensive cornerstones?

Jon Jay has been impressive with a .400 batting average in his month and a half stay in the big leagues. But it's going to be tough to replace a veteran's bat in the stretch. Also, centerfielder Colby Rasmus has struggled something awful lately, so the trade of Ludwick is going to remove the option of playing Jay in center and Ludwick in right.

The Cardinals biggest need, assuming they get Westbrook, is middle infield help. But the Padres don't have attractive pieces in those positions at the major league level. Former St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein plays second base for the Padres and has a .279 batting average with one homer. Meanwhile, Jerry Hairston plays second and sports a .238 batting average with nine homers.

It's entirely possible that the Westbrook and Ludwick deals could be involved with the Cardinals sending Ludwick to the Padres for prospects that would go to Cleveland for Westbrook.