Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Reader Blog: Trade Ryan Theriot

Much has been made this offseason and during spring training about the future of Ryan Theriot and Starlin Castro. I believe the answer of what to do about these players is obvious.

Ryan Theriot has been a very valuable player. He is average to above average defensively at an important position according to all fielding metrics. He also hits fairyly well for a shortstop. Tack onto that his salary which is now 2.6 Million. According to fangraphs, Theriot has been worth over 10 Million in real dollars each of the last two years. Even with another solid year, he's probably looking at a raise into the 4-6 Million range for 2011. That makes him a decent bargain for any team.

If the Cubs did not have a potential stud shortstup prospect, I'd call Theriot one of the best values on the team. However, with Starlin Castro breathing down his neck, Theriot is going to need to be moved. I don't like moving him to second base because of the presence of another decent below market player with a nice glove named Mike Fontenot.

Fontenot is making 1 million in 2010 and will probably see a raise bringing his salary to just under what Theriot is making now in 2011. Fontenot is a better hitter than Theriot, in my opinion, and is also 6 months younger. I think it would be bad idea to replace Fontenot with a worse hitting, more expensive Theriot in 2011.

That leaves the Cubs with one choice. Trade Ryan Theriot. This is not something they should do during the 2010 season. This year, the Cubs do not have any room for developmental players like Castro. But the 2011 team will and Castro will be that much better. The Castro of 2011 and 2012 will be paid next to nothing and will probably put up numbers not too dissimilar to what Theriot provides now. On top of that, Theriot, now 30, will be entering his decline years.

The fairly cheap, but productive Theriot should net the Cubs a Grade B hitting prospect sitting at Double A or higher plus a decent middle reliever. The Cubs save 2+ million and move on to their next move. They can do this without weakening the team.

Fine

But do you really think that Fontenot will contribute as many wins at 2B as Theriot would? Honestly, I'd rather see Theriot man the keystone next season with Castro taking over full time at SS. Remember, Theriot lost in arb this year. That will keep his salary lower for next season as well. You're right that Theriot isn't a long term answer for the Cubs, and if they are still relying on him by 2012, I will be concerned. However, I think he should be the Cubs starting 2B next season.

It all depends....

on what Fontenot does in 2010. We already know that Fontenot is a competent defender at second and I suspect he's a better hitter than Theriot. Given the fact that Theriot is currently earning 2.6 Million to Fontenot's 1 Million, Theriot will be more expensive and 6 months older. Ultimately, we're splitting hairs here but not only is Fontenot probably a better option at second due to those factors, Theriot has more perceived trade value on the open market due to his ability to play shortstop. I don't think it would be a tragedy if Theriot ended up at second base but if Fontenot OPS's say .810 or so this year, there is no reason to move him off second base.

I'm sorry, but the record

I'm sorry, but the record just doesn't support your opinion that Fontenot is a better hitter than Theriot. Sure he has a bit more power, but 21 HR in 859 AB isn't exactly great power to begin with. Other than that, I have no problems with your post. Theriot would be better defensively at second, but I doubt teams would give anything decent for Fontenot, whereas Theriot might net something in the neighborhood of what you're looking for.

Agreed

If Fontenot hits as well or better than Theriot this season, than you're right. I just don't think he will. His LH bat would be valuable to the Cubs, although he is so helpless against LHP that we would need a backup capable of eating 200 or more at bats over the course of the season without killing us at the dish.

Fontenot Platoon Player

Fontenot's position as a platoon player makes his trade value and his value to an arbitor less than Theriot's. Theriot will net us a better prospect than Fontenot and he'll make at least twice as much as Fontenot. Given that Theriot's skill set will be wasted at second base on this team, it makes more sense to keep Fontenot and trade Theriot. Longterm, that's the move.

The record

Theriot's career OPS is .724. Fontenot's career OPS is .758. Fontenot has a slightly lower OBP but beats Theriot in SLG by close to 70 points. Fontenot has platooned for much of his career so his numbers might be somewhat skewed but it's a matter of what you're looking for. As I wrote in my post, is is *my opinion* that Fontenot is a better hitter than Theriot. They are close but I'd take Fontenot.

OBP more closely correlates

OBP more closely correlates to scoring runs than sluggin does, although they are both important. I just don't love Fontenot I guess. He'd need to show me something this season to get me to come around to your point of view.

Theriot

There is always someone out there wanting to trade great everyday players that make the least amount of money on the team which has been Ryan Theriot. He was their most consistent player the last couple of years. Made just over the league minimum and played his heart out. Then when he starts playing well some idiots get on the line and want to trade him for someone not yet proven. Lets get rid of high priced dead weight such as Zambrano, Fukodome, SORIANO. Heck, we could get some decent players for the money they are getting paid. Leaver Theriot alone and let him remain a Cub for a while and everyone will see he is well worth keeping.

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