Thursday, April 26, 2007

theriot promoted to shortstop

the first inking came with yesterday's starting lineups, but after the game lou piniella confirmed that the cubs had indeed taken a positive remedial step in demoting cesar izturis and ronny cedeno, who had previosuly been splitting time at shortstop, in favor of ryan theriot.

"We need a lift," Piniella said. "We need somebody who can get us going a little bit. Been trying to figure out where to play [Theriot]. He has been getting work at shortstop, so we're going to put him out there and let him play."

Piniella wouldn't say how much time he would give Theriot at short, but as long as he continues to hit, the job is his.

"The kid can swing the bat, and he has some energy," Piniella said. "I like the way he plays the game. The problem is, where do you put him?"

Theriot, 27, played shortstop at Triple-A Iowa last year and was given a few games there in spring training before Piniella pulled the plug and decided "he's better on the right side of the infield." That means he thinks Theriot's arm and range are lacking.

But with Izturis hitting .184 and the Cubs scuffling for runs, Piniella changed his mind. Theriot has been working out at the position for the last three days before games.

"It's something I'm comfortable with and excited about," Theriot said. "I look at is as an opportunity to impact the game in a positive way."

two of the cubs most destructive three position players to date in terms of value over replacement have been cedeno (-3.5) and izturis (-2.5), joining jacque jones (-2.7); the two shortstops are also the loss leaders by vorp rate. as alternatively measured by looking at win expectancy added (wpa), cedeno has again been the loss leader in the field at (-0.97), with izturis placing fifth (-0.43) sandwiching jones (-0.75), cliff floyd (-0.68) and matt murton (-0.50).

for context in terms of wpa, derrek lee, in going 393/474/560 over 97 at-bats in this young year, has accumulated a team-leading wpa of +1.00 -- which is to say, cedeno in just 30 at-bats has virtually cancelled the effect of lee's 97 at-bats in terms of winning games.

that is some seriously deficient individual production, though it is nothing new to anyone who watched cedeno compile one of the worst seasons in the majors in 2006 under the stubborn tutelage of dusty baker and jim hendry.

it is often said that managers have little or no effect on the outcome of games, but this writer has long secretly suspected that to be an error of omission. in terms of lineup construction and other mundane features of the game, it is certainly true that the difference between good and bad management offer small returns; moreover, it is not at all certain that what makes good management good in any one season is a repeatable mechanism that is harbored in the talent of an individual so much as in the good fortune of circumstance.

but these evaluations are taken on that which can be measured -- and it is all but impossible to measure that which has not happened. the most valuable (and damaging) decisions a manager makes are often those of passed opportunity, of the road not taken, of the allocation foregone. and for this reason one suspects that management remains a quantity unquantifiable in the strictest sense, even if we can be sure that luck plays a larger role than virtue.

regardless of the nature of management, it is hard to see how replacing cedeno and izturis with theriot cannot provide some small benefit to this club, though it may be marginal. theriot is, after all, currently carrying a 339/362/375 line on a babip of .388 -- an aberrant number that will surely come back to earth with increased playing time. and though that good fortune has helped him compile a value over replacement of +3.0, theriot is nonetheless on the negative side of the ledger in wpa at (-0.39) -- indeed, the cubs have but four positive offensive contributors in lee, aramis ramirez, michael barrett and mark derosa. his fielding at short will be suspect -- theriot was a second baseman for good reasons -- though it can hardly be vastly worse than that seen to date.

but the very act of removing from regular action two of the worst players on the roster -- including the unquestionably awful cedeno, who should never be allowed to play another game in the majors and whose promotion and use from necessity is perhaps the blackest of many blots on hendry's abysmal record -- will very probably have positive effect for the club even if theriot comes back to earth. he at least will likely play the position without finding ways to actively sabotage the club in critical situations with unnerving frequency, owing mostly to a penchant for reaching base.

1Carlos ZambranoRyan DempsterScott Eyre*Michael BarrettDerrek LeeAlfonso Soriano
2Ted Lilly*Bob HowryWill Ohman*Henry BlancoMark DerosaFelix Pie*
3Jason MarquisMichael WuertzNeal Cotts*Geovany SotoRyan TheriotJacque Jones*
4Rich Hill*Rocky CherryClay Rapada* Aramis RamirezCliff Floyd*
5Wade MillerAngel Guzman  Cesar Izturis**Matt Murton
6Mark PriorRoberto Novoa  Ronny CedenoDaryle Ward*
7Juan MateoKerry Wood  Scott Moore*Angel Pagan**
8Sean Marshall*   Brian DopirakBuck Coats*
9Carlos Marmol     
10Jeff Samardzija     

No comments: