Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Hector Luna, who bought the St. Louis Cardinals Ronnie Belliard back in 2006, resurfaces with the Chunichi Dragons.
Hector Luna is one of the least memorable pieces of the 2004 and 2005 MV3 St. Louis Cardinals, but he was a pretty astute Rule 5 pickup, playing an adequate shortstop and showing off a little power before being traded straight-up for World Series second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Despite looking like a useful bench piece he's spent most of his career since in the minor leagues, despite surfacing in 2012 as one of the Philadelphia Phillies' many comical replacements for Ryan Howard. Now the 33-year-old appears to have finally found a starting gig--in Japan, with the Chunichi Dragons.
In St. Louis Luna looked to be blossoming into a nearly average hitter, and his minor league numbers (.286/.348/.451 in 641 career AAA games) suggest he could be a useful infielder in Japan, especially given the prevailing dead ball era conditions over there. I'm just a little sad that the Cardinals couldn't trade him, once more, for a starting second baseman--namely my 2013 pet offseason project, Seibu Lions star infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Luna isn't the only Cardinals refugee in Japan. Longtime fringe outfielder Nick Stavinoha briefly competed for the NPB lead in home runs as a Hiroshima Carp before getting hurt last year, and Memphis Redbirds regular Brandon Dickson will join the Orix Buffaloes in 2013, fresh off the Cardinals' 40-man roster.