When the St Louis Cardinals traded bearded reliever Blake Hawksworth for scrappy middle infielder Ryan Theriot, we had to assume they knew what they were doing. Having sent previous starting shortstop Brendan Ryan packing to Seattle for failing to recognize the value of The Cardinal Way, Tony LaRussa and friends thought they had the right piece in Theriot.
The Riot started the season as the everyday short stop and did a Ryan Theriot-type job of it. In other words, he wasn’t very good. Never a strong defensive shortstop, Theriot kicked it around Busch Stadium while providing a smooth .631 OPS at the plate.
The Cards, still hopeful they could capture the National League Central title, acquired Rafael Furcal to take over the shortstopping duties. Theriot lost his job. He wasn’t happy about it. Shockingly, he still isn’t pleased over losing his job.
After picking up a rare start at short on Sunday, Theriot let his frustrations boil over in an interview with Cardinals beat writer Joe Strauss. Theriot expressed frustration at moving from shortstop for the second season in a row (with a second organization, for what that’s worth.)
“I don’t think at this point in my career I see myself as a second baseman,” he said. “That said, I have no problem going to play second base. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
Hard to fault Theriot for clinging to the belief that he can still hack it at short. If only he stopped there. Theriot not only believes himself to still be a serviceable shortstop, he also fancies himself the straw that stirs the drink in St. Louis.
The Cardinals led the division until July 27, four days before the Furcal acquisition. Speaking only about his own role, Theriot noted, “When I was playing shortstop we were in first place. I know that. It is what it is.”
Ouch. That is the kind of quote that gets you into trouble, Ryan.
It is true, the Cards were in first place when you were the starter. Weird that the team was just six games above .500 in your starts (winning at a .533 clip) compared to the teams .542 record overall. In other words, Ryan, the team is better when you aren’t the starter.
Which is to say nothing of the torrid pace of your division rivals from Milwaukee. The Brewers pretty much went crazy in August and have only slowed to match the pace of your Cardinals. It might even be out of your control, Ryan!
Theriot’s days as an everyday shortstop are likely finished. If a veteran-coveting curmudgeon like Tony LaRussa can’t find place for you in his lineup, you’re pretty much out of luck. Good luck finding that mythical starting shortstop job next year, Ryan. Please remember the Dodgers went ahead and signed Juan Uribe for three years, meaning you have a long wait before you get a crack at that berry patch.