Cardinals Acquire Ryan Theriot; I thought they were looking to upgrade?

Chicago Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot throws to first to complete a double play on a ball hit by Houston Astros' Matt Kata during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 29, 2009. The Cubs won 12-0. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

On Tuesday the St. Louis Cardinals acquired IF Ryan Theriot from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for RHP Blake Hawksworth for reasons that escape me.

I’m not concerned with losing Blake Hawksworth and his 4.98 ERA, even though the Cardinals didn’t have to give him up for Theriot, who was likely to be cast aside next week by L.A. to make room for their new 2B Juan Uribe. Hawksworth was probably a non-tender candidate anyway, so dealing him for another non-tender candidate is really no problem at all.

Obviously, Theriot played for you know who… but that’s not the problem either. I could eventually warm up to any former Chicago Cub if he’s contributing to his role.  Even if I once despised that player for being praised despite his mediocrity at all facets of the game, just because his last name kept Cubs’ fans entertained.  “Hey, do you know if you put a space between the ‘e’ and ‘r’ in Theriot you get The Riot!  How cool is that?!”

The problem isn’t over who the Cardinals gave up, or who they picked up.  More so, it’s what they’ve said they were going to do that really grinds my gears.

“This is not necessarily the last move we will make before opening day,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “But if we did have to start today, (Theriot) would likely be our shortstop.”

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan watches the scoreboard from the dugout during the top of the first inning against the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 13, 2010. Ryan was benched after committing five errors in the last two games against the Astros. Houston defeated St. Louis 4-1. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Really?  Ryan Theriot in place of Brendon Ryan… how is that an upgrade?  Offensively, both are equally bad. Brendan’s OPS’s the last two seasons: .740 and .573. Ryan Theriot’s OPS’s the last two seasons: .712 and .633.

The difference is Ryan is an elite defender.  Theriot is not.  According to +/- Brendan has saved 19 and 24 runs, respectively, the last two seasons.  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.

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 Skip Schmaker at second base.  I don’t see how the Cardinals could feel any better with Theriot and Hudson, than Ryan and Schumaker up the middle.

St. Louis Cardinals Skip Schumaker has problems with the baseball off the bat of Flordia Marlins Hanley Ramirez in the first inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 19, 2010. UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Ryan and Skip turned the third most double plays in the majors; it’s not their defense that concerns me as much as their lack of offensive production.  Hudson has won four gold gloves and made half as many errors as Skip (16), but his offensive numbers are basically the same as Schumaker’s.

Schumaker’s offensive numbers: .265 ave/.328 obp/.338 slg, 5 homers, 18 doubles, 42 RBI, and 66 runs.

Hudson’s 2010 offensive numbers:  268 ave/.338 obp/.372 slg, 6 homers, 24 doubles, 37 RBI, 20 runs.

I’m not saying I was happy by any means with the offensive production from our SS and 2B last year, but the only place where Theriot and Hudson would provide a collective boost to the team would be in salary. Theriot’s flexibility would make another fine utility player for TLR (as if he doesn’t have enough), but I would rather seeing Tyler Green getting time on the field than him.

I don’t know what the Cardinals are planning to do with their middle infield, but if they replace Ryan and Skip with The Riot and O-Dog we’ll all be wondering come September/October why this team isn’t any better than last year.  That’s all I’m saying.

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  • Jim Sherman

    As free agents come and go, the Cards sit by and let the rivals upgrade and become better. Will the Cards finish better than second this year and win the divison it will be a surprise. Sorry to say looks like they will compete with Houston and Chicago for the cellar in 2011. Please reach into your pockets and spend some money………………..

  • http://www.ramschronicle.com Aaron Kirn

    I, myself am a little confused as to why they went with Theriot over Ryan because the Card’s pitching staff relies so much on defense, and Theriot isn’t an upgrade offensively either… I still think the Cards are good enough to win the Central or Wildcard. At this point, I just want them to spend some money Albert Pujols.

  • Brandon L.

    From what I have read, replacing Ryan at SS was more about personality than performance. It sounded like Ryan’s personality was becoming a bit grating on some folks within the clubhouse. Do you remember the little talk Ryan received from Carpenter when Ryan grabbed the wrong glove and Carp had to wait for Ryan to run back to the dugout to get the correct one? His poor performance at the plate in 2010 was just a convenient excuse to purge him from the roster.

    • http://www.ramschronicle.com Aaron Kirn

      @ Brandon, that’s exactly what I’ve been reading too. There were a few non-performance incidents during the season that made it easier for the Cards to let him go. It seems with the signings of westbrook, berkman, punto, theriot, and even edmonds… St. Louis is making a conscience effort to rejuvenate their clubhouse into a positive and energetic atmosphere.