In praise of Hector Luna

Hector Luna is truly a confounding player in a lot of ways; he’s a difficult player to assess. Because the Cardinals selected him as a fairly raw player in the Rule 5 Draft, the notion existed that he might develop into a star. Luna’s already 26, though, so it’s more like he’s entering his prime than in his early developmental years.

He’s performed poorly at Memphis, and he’s had some rough Spring Training showings, and it’s frustrating to think of a guy who "turns it on" for the regular season — especially a guy who hasn’t established himself as a star. But then he does turn it on, hitting well in his exposure in the Majors.

Luna’s a tough guy to get a read on, in a lot of ways. But even with all that, and even with the lack of game-in, game-out consistency and hard-nosed-ness, he was a productive hitter in 2005, and his early showings in 2006 have been more of the same. Luna, in 2005, his .285/.344/.409. Admittedly it was in 137 at-bats, but that’s a pretty fine offensive line for a second baseman.

For his career — and remember, this is a guy who jumped from AA to the Majors, so there was a definite adjustment period at first — he’s hit .271/.326/.396. If he’s a legitimate 270/330/400 hitter, that’s a guy who won’t hurt you in 400 at-bats at second base. If he’s, say, a 280/340/430 hitter, that’s pretty tasty at second base.

I hope we get to see what Luna can do in 400 at-bats, because I think he would be an offensive asset.

-M.

11 Comments

I know that I love having Luna on our bench. And, I feel that he can come in and start, like yesterday, and you don’t feel like you’re stepping way down. Especially with losing a guy like Nunez to Philadelphia, it’s great to have Luna be able to step in where needed.

Tiffany

http://redbirdfever.mlblogs.com/

I tend to like Luna as perhaps a Jose Oquindo-type of player. That is, Oquindo as the “Secret Weapon” Super Sub before he was a regular starting 2B. I’d like to see a more established player as Cards starting 2B (Mark Loretta was my personal off-season first choice to replace Grud) and be able to have confidence in Luna to sub at any of the infield positions and spot in the outfield here and there as Oquindo did. Maybe Jose could even give Luna some tips to add emergency catcher and no other choice relief pitcher to the resume for those extra-extra-extra inning games???

That’s fine… I don’t necessarily want him in there as the everyday second baseman, though I think it would work out OK. I just want the guy to get some at-bats, because I think he can hit a little.

-M.

I think Luna has great potential as a utility player. I was sorry to see Nunez traded over the winter, but think Luna can be a great contributor. I still wish we had Grud and Sanders because of their experience and leadership. What is going on with Encarnacion? Will he ever settle in as a contrbuting player? Also, I hate to “beat a dead horse” by repeating myself, but someone in management (i.e., LaRussa and/or Duncan) needs to tweak or thrash the bullpen. Thank the Lord on Easter Sunday that we have Pujols to save us from ourselves!

I am a fan of Luna. He is great off the bench and provides great clutch hits and good defense. However, I can’t say I hope he gets 400 at bats this season with the Cardinals.

For him to get that many at bats would mean that other Cardinals with more potential would either get injured or disappoint.

Encarnacion, in spite of his abysmal start, will prove to be a good player and a great fit. I specifically remember watching him over several games last year and thinking that he would make a good Cardinal with his style of play and his production. Bigbie will also step up and take a leading role. Even at second, I have faith in Miles for the moment and Spivey as he redeems himself with some hard work at Memphis.

As much as I like Luna, I don’t want to see any of thse guys (and you could add JRod, Taguchi and others) fail, which is what Luna’s ascendance would require.

Oh, and regarding the utility position in St. Louis, let me add a couple more thoughts.

I watched Jose Oquendo develop into the Secret Weapon in St. Louis. He was a really special player, just as he is a very special and much beloved coach now (and hopefully a great Cardinals Manager in the future). While I could remark on his clutch hits, his amazing defense at basically any position, or his camaraderie in the clubhouse, the most unusual quality he had was he relished his role as a utility player. That was his role, and he loved it and aspired to nothing else. That, above all his other qualities, made him magical.

Nuney proved worthy last year to be put in the same class with Oquendo (as well as the stellar class act Mabry) in the utility role. However, he still has a taste for a starting role, and God bless him as he pursues more of that sort of a role in Philly.

As for Luna, I’m not sure what he thinks about his role. Does he want to start? It’s a rare soul who is truly content with the utility role, and since Luna is only 26 (I believe that’s right), I’m sure he must harbor dreams of a greater role.

One thing is for sure: Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals are not the sort of team which is the place to be if you want to develop into a regular player from a bench role. After all, that’s why we lost Nunez. Hopefully Luna is happy in St. Louis, because he’s solid off the bench, and we need him there.

Considering the alternatives, I wouldn’t mind seeing Hector get the lion share of AB’s at 2nd base.

But it’s not just his offense on why I like him there. His throws aren’t always the most accurate, but he does have a strong arm and a lot of range, especially to his right it seems. With some regular work I would expect he’d improve.

And if he can hit .270/.330/.400, I would be pretty happy with that.

http://www.reverendredbird.wordpress.com

Matthew, I highly respect you and your work for the St. Louis Cardinals. I am a 14 year old freshman whos dream is to do what you do for a living. ( maybe even calling a few cardinal games ) I just started this site to show my true passion for the cardinals. I was hoping you could check out my site if you have time. I just stared a few days ago so the site is fairly rusty but I feel I can make it a success. Thanks for all you do.

Cards Fan

Bud

Bud, thanks for the kind words, and glad to have you around — I don’t see a link for your site, though!

-M.

Why does everybody think he can only be a part-time player?

I hear comments like, “We can’t start him because he’s great off the bench.” Huh?

I say just start him and see what happens. He is a contact hitter with some pop. He might just be a good #2 hitter. Spivey is in AAA. I like Miles but is he the answer for a full season? The time is now.

Honestly I like to have Luna off the bench also, he is a guy that can play any place TLR asks him to. I dont think he has what it takes to be an everyday player though. I still think Aaron Miles was the right choice to start and honestly he brings more to the dish than Luna because he is a switch hitter. Aaron also has the experience of being a starter in the majors. The only thing that I think TLR should be doing different is batting him at the 2 spot and moving Juan E down to the 6 hole just because he is a tough out and well quite frankly Juan needs to find his stick again.
What is Hectors trade value now? In all fairness he could be dealt (I would love to see maybe a Luna, Marquis, and Spivey deal for someone like Dontrell Willis, now that would be Awsome!

Make the move Walt he would love our club house and if you ask anyone STL is the best baseball town in the World.

Dan from Des Moines

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