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Cardinals Turn On The Stove

Posted on December 1, 2010 at 9:50 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
After weeks of relative inactivity, the Cardinals made a couple of moves yesterday.  One was fairly straightforward.  One will have some sort of repercussions.

First off, the Cards signed lefthanded reliever Brian Tallet away from the Blue Jays.  Tallet's numbers last year were pretty unsightly at first blush, as he posted a 6.40 ERA and allowed 20 home runs in 77 innings.

However, Tallet's splits are where the Cardinals find value.  He allowed only a .176 BAA vs. lefties last year, compared to a .320 BAA vs. righties.  Over the last three years, the splits haven't been quite as dramatic (.251 BBAL, .271 BBAR) but he seems primed to be put into that LOOGY role.  Also, over the last three years, his best ERA has come on grass (3.88), so it's possible that he'll be relieved to get away from Toronto's turf.

The Cards spent less than a million on him, so if he flops terribly or someone pulls a Jaime Garcia and comes out of nowhere in spring training, it's not a huge problem to replace him.  It's the very definition of low risk, potentially high reward.

The big news from yesterday, though, was the trade of Blake Hawksworth to the Dodgers for infielder Ryan Theriot.  Infielder might be a general term, though, since John Mozeliak came out and said that if the season started today, he'd be the shortstop for the Redbirds.

When you look at the deal from the perspective of what the Cards gave up, you'd have to say that it was a decent deal.  Hawksworth had done good work for the Cards, but he was out of options and the righthanded side of the bullpen is pretty full.  Theriot is definitely the type of player that you'd think you could get back for him.

But is Theriot really that much better than Brendan Ryan?  Bernie Miklasz lays out why that doesn't quite mesh up with reality.  Obviously, Brendan Ryan had a terrible year at the plate last year.  I'm not sure, however, why the Cards think that his is true level of play instead of the 2009 level, when he hit .292 and had an OBP of .340.  While I'm not sure he reaches that level again, he's just as likely to hit close to Theriot's .270/.321/.312 line from last year as, well, Theriot is.

So there is meager (if any) offensive upside to replacing Ryan with Theriot.  Defensively, though, there's no contest.  Ryan picks it better than anyone.  He didn't win a Gold Glove this year, but any defensive award that honors Derek Jeter is going to be looked at suspiciously anyway.  The defensive metrics show that Ryan does a lot of great work out there, and while Theriot is passable, he's not much better than that.

It would make more sense for Theriot to go to second and replace Skip Schumaker, though that doesn't do a lot for the total offensive numbers.  Having both him and Ryan in the lineup could possibly be a drag on the bats.  Besides, if the guy is being compared to David Eckstein's tenure here, that's not necessarily the strongest of endorsements.  Eckstein was fine and, yes, won the World Series MVP in 2006 (though Scott Rolen deserved it more), but I don't think his best was that much better than Ryan.

Matt Sebek, of course, has struck to the heart of the matter in trying to determine if Theriot is really "gritty".  I think a drawback to Theriot's application is that the portion of the fan base that loves the gritty guys already has an attachment to Ryan and usurpers have a hard time overcoming that initial resentment to a player taking "their guy's" job.  I guess if he came out with a strong April, he might be able to become a fan favorite and then have a better chance of being gritty, but right now, I'm not feeling it.

As you know, I'm a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and we've got something new out now.  If you are an iPhone person (and I just got mine this week, which I am quite excited about), the BBA has an app where you can read the blog posts of many of our members, including yours truly.

Mobile Blog Reader - powered by Notice Orange

Just click on the above or search for Baseball Bloggers Alliance in the App Store.  Julian from Splashing Pumpkins took the lead on this and did an incredible job getting it all together.

Remember, I'm hosting the UCB Radio Hour tonight with James from Astros County guesting.  I know we'll talk about the Theriot deal as well, so call in or at least join us in the chat room!

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

Good stuff. Placed your article on my CardinalsGM Facebook page.


Good luck Cardinals. I know that Brian Tallet will be a great help to the team. Go! Go! Go!

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