Cardinals Acquire Ryan Theriot

As seen here, yesterday, as written by yours truly, regarding the Juan Uribe acquisition:

If the move is simply to replace [Ryan] Theriot with Uribe, it is a mistake.

If I’m one to stick by my words, then I have to call this deal a mistake, seeing as the Dodgers just traded Ryan Theriot to the Cardinals in exchange for Blake Hawksworth. While I will under most circumstances stick to arguments I make, even if I believe them less and less, I did omit one detail about the Dodgers’ infield situation. They still have Jamey Carroll under contract for 2011. Carroll has been a passable utility man for the past three seasons, and has had only a handful of truly poor seasons in his career. He will play the part for which I had Theriot pinned, and for less money.

Forgive me, guys?

Before examining what the Dodgers received in exchange for Theriot, let’s see how the man helps his new team. The Cardinals do have infield problems once they get to the right of Albert Pujols. Skip Schumaker has played second for the past few seasons, but last season he ranked last in WAR among second basemen with 450 or more PA. He could certainly rebound from his .299 wOBA, but it will be much tougher to recover on defense, where he’s been a perpetual liability.

At shortstop, Brendan Ryan tanked in 2010. His defense was good — perhaps better than any other season of his career. But he produced a mere .256 wOBA, which amounted to the worst batting runs above average among shortstops not named Cesar Izturis. His defense helped him produce one lonely WAR. Again, he could rebound with the bat a bit in 2011, but now the Cardinals are banking on two bounce backs.

When he was healthy David Freese provided the Cardinals with some offense at the hot corner. He didn’t hit for much power — just a .108 ISO — but he did hit for average and get on base. He also got hurt plenty and was limited to just 270 PA. While he’ll get a chance to redeem himself in 2011, he joins his fellow infields in need of a bounce back. It’s tough for the Cardinals to count on all that happening. That’s why Theriot makes a degree of sense.

Then again, they’re also banking on Theriot himself bouncing back. On defense he’ll keep plenty of balls on the infield. Unfortunately, even if he does rebound he’ll do much of the same on offense. The best case scenario, I’d think, is that his OBP reaches his .348 career mark and he provides some relief at one of the three infield positions. But, again, that’s contingent upon his recovery from a poor 2011. The Cardinals are doing a lot of hoping in the infield.

(As a result, I suspect, this is just one of many moves, and that ideally they consider Theriot a utility guy rather than a starter at any of the three positions. I thought they might prefer his glove to Schumaker’s at second. Ken Rosenthal says the Cards prefer Theriot at short.)

In return for a player they may well have non-tendered on Thursday evening, the Dodgers received Blake Hawksworth, a former top prospect in the Cardinals system. After the 2009 season, in which he pitched 40 innings in the majors, Baseball America ranked him the team’s No. 8 farm hand. Yet that wasn’t his first appearance on the Cardinals’ top 10. He was actually the team’s No.1 prospect in 2004, but various injuries held him back for the next five seasons.

He had been a starter throughout his minor league career, but in 2009 the Cardinals used him out of the bullpen. Then did the same in 2010, though he did get eight starts. His numbers were quite a bit better in relief, and I imagine that’s where the Dodgers plan to use him in 2011. Though, considering my wrongness on Theriot’s role with the Dodgers, and even the Cardinals, I’m not sure I’d trust my guess right there.

This trade won’t have major implications for the 2011 Dodgers and Cardinals, but it was a sensible one for both sides. The Cardinals added a player who might help them shore up an infield that has considerable issues. The Dodgers got another component for their bullpen. It’s always nice to see two teams match up in small deals like this and make their teams better, even on a reduced scale.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


24 Responses to “Cardinals Acquire Ryan Theriot”

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  1. CircleChange11 says:

    Damn.

    This means we won’t acquire a real 2B.

    TLR loves him some gritty middle IF’s. There’s probably a psychological connection in there somewhere.

    I’m tired of watching Bo Hart Clones man the position.

    We coulda had Orlando Hudson 3 years ago.

    Does this mean we have to hear “Let’s start a riot” every time he comes to the plate?

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    • Joe Pawlikowski says:

      I’d go with “I Wanna Riot” by Rancid myself.

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    • phoenix says:

      yea when joe put it like this, the cards’ infield sans pujols looks horrible… they should really do something about that…

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    • chuckb says:

      The Cards had no plans to acquire a real 2B. That would require that Tony abandon his Skip-to-2nd experiment and admit that it failed. Instead, they’ll replace the better player to Skip’s right.

      This probably also means that Theriot, he of the .319 career wOBA, will move into the leadoff spot!

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      • Pip says:

        In fairness, which “real 2B” could they have acquired? Remember, they’ve got their #1 pick from last year’s draft waiting in the wings, so a long-term option isn’t smart or necessary. Not that I’m a fan of the Theriot acquisition — just that they’re somewhat stuck with the hand they’ve dealt themselves at 2B.

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      • astrostl says:

        “In fairness, which “real 2B” could they have acquired?”

        Well, Ryan Theriot. Orlando Hudson is a notable available too.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I’d rather have Felipe Lopez.

        I’d also be interested in Bill Hall. Even with the Theriot, I’m interested in Bill Hall.

        Gimme somebody like Jerry Hairston.

        The cardinals have Tyler Greene, and just traded for an older version of the same thing (Theriot). Tyler Greene, Skip Schumaker, Aaron Miles, Ryan Theriot. Where’s the upgrade?

        How many players off waivers or rule 5 can perform at replacement level with a cieling of 2 WAR?

        2010 Free Agent 2B’s

        Ronnie Belliard (36) … flip a coin.

        Craig Counsell (40) … No

        David Eckstein (36)** … Yes.

        Mark Ellis (34)* – club option … Yes.

        Mark Grudzielanek (41) … No

        Cristian Guzman (33) … No.

        Jerry Hairston Jr. (35) …. YES!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll take him. Good defense. okay bat. Likely low price. Decent bet to accumulate 2 WAR (league average)

        Bill Hall (31) – club option … my 1st choice. No longer an option.

        Anderson Hernandez (28) … No thanks.

        Orlando Hudson (33)** … we shoulda signed him 2 years ago. I’ll still take him.

        Omar Infante (29)** – club option … not an option.

        Akinori Iwamura (32) … uh, no.

        Adam Kennedy (25) – club option … Nah.

        Felipe Lopez (31)** … I’ll take him. We should not have let him go in the 1st place.

        Julio Lugo (35) … Nice little run at the end of one season with StL, but no.

        Kaz Matsui (35) … No.

        Aaron Miles (34) … Nuh-uh.

        Scott Moore (27) … No.

        Nick Punto (33) – club option Not an option.

        Juan Uribe (31)** … not an option.

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  2. dan woytek says:

    I’m just a little sad he can no longer be referred to as “The LA Riot”

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  3. Table says:

    Dodgers accumulating decent relief pitching depth

    Broxton
    Kuo
    Jansen
    Belisario
    Hawksworth

    Elbert
    Troncoso
    Link
    Lindblom
    Leach
    Guerra

    Unless they rely on Elbert I expect them to get a loogy of some sort. Beimel would work, or Sherill on a minor league deal. Would also like to see Saito signed to an incentives based deal or at least a spring invite. Weaver gets a spring invite as well no doubt.

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  4. Jeff L says:

    Wasn’t Theriot likely to be non-tendered?

    Why not wait and try to sign him as a free agent?

    As well any other non-tender candidates.

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    • ofMontreal says:

      So they can have a week to negotiate! They must figure they have a price he’ll say yes to. I agree it seems to put the advantage in Theriot’s court, as much as it can be. But then the Cards are contenders and want him while Theriot doesn’t know what’s out there, in the mist.

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      • Felonius_Monk says:

        Hawksworth is a replacement-level swingman. He’s really not worth much anyway, and is out of options so the Cardinals would’ve had to expose him to other teams in any case. I quite like the guy but realistically it’s no loss to trade him for Theriot.

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  5. vivaelpujols says:

    Random crotchety quibble:

    At shortstop, Brendan Ryan tanked in 2010. His defense was good — perhaps better than any other season of his career. But he produced a mere .256 wOBA, which amounted to the worst batting runs above average among shortstops not named Cesar Izturis. His defense helped him produce one lonely WAR. Again, he could rebound with the bat a bit in 2011, but now the Cardinals are banking on two bounce backs.”

    Do you believe that Ryan’s true talent wOBA is .256? Of course not, he’s one year removed from a .324 wOBA season and he had a ~.250 BABIP last year. “Bouncing back” to his career or projected wOBA is FAR more likely than him continuing on last year. It’s not like players are what they were the last season – true talent level is an ever changing thing. People always say that someone “bounces back” from a bad year. It’s the opposite, all they do is regress to their mean.

    IOW, if you have two players – both projected to have a league average wOBA – and one is coming off of a .250 wOBA year and the other is coming off of a .400 wOBA, they are both equally likely to wOBA .330 the next year (given that’s there projection). There is no bouncing back or coming down to earth, there is only true talent.

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  6. Jon says:

    “On defense he’ll keep plenty of balls on the infield. Unfortunately, even if he does rebound he’ll do much of the same on offense.”

    Ouch

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  7. Lance W says:

    “But, again, that’s contingent upon his recovery from a poor 2011.”

    Well, that’s not a very good sign for 2011 at all… ;)

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  8. About the Theriot thing: Forgiven! Carroll is a better version of Theriot but an infield of Blake, Loney, Furcal and Uribe with Carroll and Theriot would work but that’s not going to happen now. Theriot could turn out well but I would like him to do that somewhere else. I hate his weak bat and bad base-running. I don’t know if Donnie Baseball would have batted him second and I am glad that I don’t have to find out.

    Giving Uribe 21 mil: Probably stupid
    Trading for Theriot when he is going to get dumped: Assuredly stupid.

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    I’m trying to figure out where Theriot is going to bat.

    If Theriot can have a .320ish wOBA, we can live with that. If B. Ryan can do the same thing, that’ll be great. If those things happen, chances are every infield position will be at league average or greater (2+ WAR). That would likely lead to very good things for the team’s success.

    2B is not really a make or break position for StL. The team is still centered around carp, Wain, Holliday, and AP5, being at ~5+ WAR. It does, however, get frustrating that the team essentially relies on these 4 guys to accumulate 25 WAR in order for them to win the division.

    It is kind of funny that StL is replacing -0.2 WAR with 0.0 WAR.

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  10. CircleChange11 says:

    How are Eckstein, Hairston, and FLopez not better options than Theriot?

    We’re not talking about a team that’s rebuilkding. We’re talking about a team whose window to win it all may only be open for a couple more years, depending on how the contracts of the “4 Pillars” (MH7, CC29, AW50, AP5) fit together.

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    • Felonius_Monk says:

      Hairston’s probably better, but Eckstein is coming off his best season in years in his mid-30s and will cost more than Theriot. Lopez has burnt his bridges in St Louis, as with pretty much everywhere else he’s played, so wasn’t an option.

      I quite like the Theriot acquisition. He’s better than our current 2B options (Schumaker/Greene) and probably equivalent, value-wise, to an average Brendan Ryan year at SS, plus he’s probably better than the other 3B options if Freese (as appears likely) won’t be fit for the start of 2011. I agree Hairston might’ve been a better choice, but Theriot’s not a bad cheap signing for effectively nothing.

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