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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cardinals Acquire Ryan Theriot; Columnist Scrambles for Non-Abusive Commentary

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

click to enlarge Get it? 'Cause it's the Riot? Hahahahaha!
  • Get it? 'Cause it's the Riot? Hahahahaha!
The Cardinals have completed a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Ryan Theriot, sending Blake Hawksworth to LA in return. Blake takes with him a wickedly awesome name and much less wickedly awesome pitching skills. Theriot brings versatility and the dubious distinction of playing for the Chicago Cubs

This is a really dumb move. 

Not because of what the Cardinals gave up, mind you; Hawksworth was probably a non-tender candidate anyway, so dealing him for another non-tender candidate is really no problem at all. (The Dodgers would likely have released Theriot to make room for Juan Uribe, who they just signed to be their starting second baseman.) 

No, the problem I have with this isn't what the Cardinals picked up, or what they gave up, it's what they're going to do with it. 

If the Cardinals were going to replace the pathetically awful Skip Schumaker with Theriot, I would be just fine with it. Problem is, according to Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter), the Cards view Theriot as more of a shortstop, and could be angling to bring in Orlando Hudson to replace Skippy. 

Now let me say this: replacing Skip Schumaker with Orlando Hudson would be fine. Hudson is a better player, so you would be upgrading. Good stuff. 

The problem comes in replacing Brendan Ryan with Ryan Theriot. To wit, Brendan Ryan is a better baseball player than Ryan Theriot, so this is not, I repeat not, an upgrade. In fact, replacing Ryan with The Riot probably makes the team worse. 

See, Ryan and Theriot are both shitty hitters. Brendan's OPS's the last two seasons: .740 and .573. Ryan Theriot's OPS's the last two seasons: .712 and .633. So, congratulations, Cardinals! You traded for a guy who's a little more consistently awful! 

The problem, of course, is that Brendan Ryan, while a very bad hitter, is an elite defender. Ryan Theriot, on the other hand, is not. Brendan has saved 19 and 24 runs, respectively, the last two seasons at shortstop according to +/-. Ryan Theriot saved 5 runs in 2009 at short, then was worth a net total of -1 runs in 2010 splitting time between short and second base. One-year samples tell us nothing about a player's true abilities, but a two-year sample isn't terrible. Ryan Theriot isn't even close to Brendan Ryan. 

So we have two players, essentially a wash on offense, and you're giving back a win and a half on defense? That's why this is a stupid move. I'm not a huge Brendan Ryan fan. I kind of think he's always going to struggle to find consistency. That doesn't mean he isn't a whole hell of a lot more valuable than Ryan F. Theriot. On the other hand, I suppose Tony La Russa now has another useless utility guy to run out there to remind him of himself every day, and you really can't put a value on that. 

Hey, maybe Theriot ends up at second when the Cards are outbid for Hudson, or plays some utility infield. Either one are probably okay, though I would still much rather see Tyler Greene getting time on the field than this ex-Cub monster of mediocrity. But I'll just about bet Ryan is traded, Theriot is the starting shortstop, and we're all left next August wondering why this team isn't any better than they were in 2009. 

Dear Mr. Mozeliak: you're supposed to be making the team better, not worse. Please stop doing stuff like this. How about we actually go and get Juan Uribe, instead of the player someone else cast off to sign him? Ugh. 

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