Conspiracy theories aren’t my thing. I’ve been to the famous grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and I’m confident that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter. It’s not that I did some complicated and expensive re-creation using a computer simulation or watched a really detailed re-enactment of the event. It’s just that I’ve seen two guys injure themselves trying to open a door for a woman at a mall, so I have serious doubts about the ability of two men to coordinate on something so complicated. That said, I’ve got a theory. It’s outlandish and nonsensical, and there’s probably nothing to it. That’s why I’m going to tell everybody about it, so you all can have the same nagging feeling about it that I do.
I’ll take you back to the end of the 2010 season. Brendan Ryan followed a horrid 1st half (.194 avg) with a respectable 2nd half (.252 avg), and it seemed like he was losing innings to other players at SS by the end of the year. There is definitely some truth to this, because he played in 72 games in the first half and only 67 in the 2nd half. For close followers of the team, the writing seemed to be on the wall, especially when John Mozeliak referred to upgrading the middle IF. At the time, it seemed like Mo had upgrading 2B in mind, or at least that’s what he seemed indicate. Now, here’s where it gets a bit complicated.
What if TLR wanted to add depth to the team while keeping and motivating Brendan and Skip at the same time without breaking the budget? Mozeliak has 2B as the top item on his GM shopping list. TLR goes to Mo and complains about Brendan’s attitude and personality fit. He believes that Ryan Theriot could be a good pickup, because he’s played both 2B and SS, and he provides depth and flexibility on the infield. Suddenly, Ryan Theriot is the guy the Cardinals have to have. He’s been playing 2B for a while now, but he played a lot at SS, so this acquisition satisifies both TLR and Mo.
At the same time, TLR is suddenly a lot more positive about Brendan Ryan than ever. According to TLR, Brendan’s “grown up a lot”. Speaking at the recent winter meetings, TLR was quoted as saying:
“He’s had a lot of our players mentor him. But he’s still you know, he’s a very personable guy and he’s got a lot of energy. He’s still learning that there is a time to be expressive and animated, and there is a time to kind of make sure you breathe and back off a little bit. So I think he’s made so much progress. I don’t think the chemistry side is a reason.”
Really? Interesting. It sounds to me like TLR is trying to enhance Brendan’s trade value to improve the return. Maybe he has a motive for doing this beyond just trying to get the most the team can in the deal. Maybe he’s trying to raise the price past what any team is willing to pay. Way to talk up your recently deposed SS, Tony. Nice work. At the same time, the manager has just said some rather complimentary things about Brendan.
Fast forward to spring training in 2011. What if Theriot just doesn’t seem to show the kind of range or arm at SS that TLR expects? What if Brendan gets there and just happens to be more “focused” and more “determined” at SS than ever before? Could Theriot end up right back at 2B? Of course he could. Could Brendan find himself the starting SS on opening day? Yep, that could happen too. Does that mean that TLR would have Skip Schumaker as his super-sub on the bench along with Allen Craig and possibly Tyler Greene? Yes. Does that translate to a deep bench for the Cardinals, complete with situational pinch hitters? Well, Skip hit .275 versus righties last year, but Allen Craig and Tyler Greene only hit .208 against lefties. That leaves it up to Jon Jay who hit .308 versus left-handed pitching. In retrospect, that looks like a deeper bench than what the team had last year. The only substantial difference is the lack of switch hitters, but that might be a fair trade for better speed, more athleticism, and a bit more power in the form of Craig. Maybe this wasn’t an engineered maneuver to add a veteran infielder and still keep both Brendan and Skip. Then again, maybe TLR is effusive with praise every time he turns around and never snaps at anybody, either. Now THAT would have the conspiracy theorists alarmed!
TIDBITS: Rumor has it that Jay Bruce just signed a 6 yr / $51.25M deal with the Reds. Bruce hit .281 with 25 hrs and 70 rbi in 2010. He struck out 136 times and scored 80 runs. Bruce will be 24 at the beginning of the 2011 season. Colby Rasmus hit .276 with 23 hrs and 66 rbi in 2010. He struck out 148 times and scored 85 runs. Colby will turn 24 during the 2011 season, and he’s not eligible for arbitration until 2012. I’m of the opinion that Bruce is the better defender, but the salary differential will be huge for at least 2 years thus underscoring the value of cost-controlled talent. It would sure be nice to see the Cardinals show that they appreciate that difference as well.
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