I keep looking for a downside to the Cardinals’ trade of Blake Hawksworth to Los Angeles for Ryan Theriot, and I can’t find one.
Hawksworth is a great guy and a serviceable bullpen arm, but it’s pretty well established that he’s not going to be a star. With Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs ahead of him from the right side in the ‘pen, it’s a safe bet that he’s a replaceable part.
Theriot is a classic Tony La Russa player. He can play second, third and short, and is more than willing to move around. Lou Piniella told us on The Fast Lane that Theriot is a terrific guy in the clubhouse…a guy that never makes waves and that everyone likes. Is he a “glue” player like Mark DeRosa? No, but he’s reliable and steady…which is what the Cardinals want.
Cards GM John Mozeliak told us that Theriot is a guy that “we envision as our starting shortstop.” He’s OK defensively, but doesn’t bring to the table what Brendan Ryan does. In 2008, Theriot had a .387 OBP for the Cubs. Players generally play their best under La Russa, so if he can approximate that with the Cardinals he’ll be a perfect leadoff hitter.
I thought when the trade was made that Theriot would be an upgrade as a replacement for Felipe Lopez as a utility guy. Offensively, he CAN be an upgrade over Ryan, although it’s unlikely he’ll match Ryan’s range.
At the end of the day, though, the Cardinals needed to improve their ability to get on base ahead of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. If Theriot lives up to the standards he set earlier in his career, Mozeliak really has something. If he doesn’t, they lose Hawksworth, and move on to the next project.