Monday, March 29, 2010

Ryan Theriot: The Iron Shetland Pony

Now that the Cubs locker room has supplanted Disney World as the happiest place on earth, the most polarizing issue facing the Cubs is how we feel about Ryan Theriot at shortstop.

Some people really like Ryan Theriot because of his scrappy, hustling play and don't want to hear about how he isn't a very good shortstop.  These people will usually point out that Theriot is the best of any candidates that the Cubs have had to play shortstop in the last few years, not realizing that fact is an indictment of the Cubs' organization rather than an endorsement of Theriot's abilities.  These people will also often refer to Theriot as a "youngster" or a "kid" because he hasn't been around overly long and he looks younger than most newborns.

Some people recognize that Theriot has value as a player because he has shown an ability to get on base at a decent rate, he has decent speed, and he makes the routine plays at shortstop with consistency.  These are people who would be very content with Ryan Theriot as a second baseman where his lack of range and arm would minimally impact the team.

Some people can't stand Theriot and are actively rooting for him to get hurt so that the Starlin Castro era can begin.  These people hate the people who love Theriot and mock those who wear the Theriot jerseys and jersey t-shirts.  They hate that he thought he was a power hitter after hitting a couple of homeruns last year, they hate that he leads off, they hate that he has no arm, no range, and a slow release in the field, and they hate that he can't figure out how not to get thrown out on the bases after managing to reach safely.  These people threw mini-parties when the Cubs defeated Theriot in arbitration earlier this year.

I'll say I fall somewhere between the second and third group.  If he puts his power-hitting tendencies behind him as he seems to have this Spring, I have no problem if he was the teams' second baseman, assuming a competent shortstop takes his place.

The problem is that Theriot is the shortstop, he will be the shortstop, and he now has no real back-up at the position.

The Cubs traded away the only real shortstop they would have realistically had on the roster when they traded Andy White away for a case of hot dog buns and have placed the fate of the back-up shortstop spot to Mike Fontenot who is somehow worse at playing the position than Theriot.  To give you an indication of how bad Fontenot's skills at shortstop are, Aaron Miles played shortstop for 44 innings for the Cubs last year.  Mike Fontenot played one inning at shorststop.  The Cubs actually preferred Aaron Miles to Mike Fontenot at that position.  That does not speak well of Fontenot's capabilities there.

That means we need Ryan Theriot to be the Cubs' shortstop no matter the situation. I wouldn't recommend days off to rest.  He shouldn't get days off when a tough righty pitcher is on the mound.  If he has to stay out there for all 17 innings of a tie game, so be it.

You folks rooting for injury should be careful what you wish for because an appearance of Starlin Castro means Theriot is pretty badly hurt, so he isn't shifting over to second.  It simply means making Castro run out there every day no matter the situation, which scares the hell out of me.

I hope Theriot has a bit of Lou Gehrig in him (not the power-hitting, Ryan, the endurance part).

13 comments:

baseballjen said...

FonteNO! FonteNO! Give me TheriOHHHHHHH.

I don't know where I was going with that, it's been a long day.

Anonymous said...

Fontenot is capable enough to be a Shortstop. He's played alot of games there. Especially in 2007. Theriot is a great shortstop, but he's more of a second basemen. I don't think anyone should move him. Let him be and let him do what he wants to

Aisle 424 said...

I'm assuming that Anonymous is Mike Fontenot's mother because no one else could possibly argue that his 2007 total of 3 games and 19 innings at shortstop is "alot of games."

baseballjen said...

Capable enough-for a minor leaguer, perhaps. Has to be his mum.

danieldschell said...

Anyone else remember a game with Font at short, made an immediate error, and Lou sent him back to 2nd and had Derosa move over to short? Could be just me

Aisle 424 said...

DeRosa did play shortstop once on August 31, 2008. Cedeno started at shortstop and was lifted for a pinch hitter and replaced by Theriot. Then Daryle Ward pinch hit for Theriot and Fontenot was used as a pinch runner.

According to the box score, Fontenot then went to the field at 2nd and DeRosa moved from 2nd to shortstop. There is no fielding error recorded.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN200808310.shtml

Aisle 424 said...

That was also the last game in the one month stretch where Jeff Samardzija was effective.

danieldschell said...

I see one game in 07 that Derosa played at short; can't figure out how to find that game's stats though

Aisle 424 said...

There it is. June 30, 2007. DeRosa started at 2B and Fontenot at SS. Corey Hart led off the game reaching on an error by Fontenot. In the 2nd inning, DeRosa was at SS and Fontenot at 2nd. He made an error there later in the game.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN200706300.shtml

danieldschell said...

Dang you! I just found it too

danieldschell said...

And Theriot played 3rd

wpbc said...

you mean samardzija was actually effective? my memory appears to be going.

Aisle 424 said...

There was that one month in 2008 where he wasn't scored on. His ERA after that game on August 31 was 0.98. Seems like such a long time ago.

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