Without getting into how much I dislike the Cardinals probable starting middle infield of Ryan "The Riot" Theriot and Skip "No nickname needed when your first name is Skip" Schumaker, I want to ask you guys about a trade idea I have for Brendan Ryan, since the Cardinals seem intent on him leaving the ball club.
According to Brendan Ryan's page over at Baseball Reference, http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ryanbr01.shtml, Ryan is arbitration eligible through the 2013 season and will not be a free agent until 2014. He had a flat out atrocious year with the bat in 2010. His OPS (.573) was worse than Barry Bonds' OBP alone in both his 2002 and 2004 seasons. That being said, Brendan Ryan was worth roughly 1 win over a replacement value player (WAR) last season because of how ridiculously fantastic his defensive skills were. In 2009, when Ryan had a quite respectable .740 OPS (for a defense-first shortstop especially), he was worth nearly 3.5 WAR. In his 1332 plate appearances and nearly 3000 innings in the field, Ryan has been worth a shade over 6 WAR in his brief career.
Alex Gordon is a Kansas City Royal. He is a former #2 OVERALL draft choice by the Royals. He was their next "face of the franchise" when being drafted, as a 3rd baseman, and was supposed to replace George Brett in the city's eye. He is also arbitration eligible through the 2013 season and will not be a free agent until 2014. In 4 seasons in Kansas City, he has played 408 games, just over 1600 PAs. He has played nearly 3500 innings in the field, 2800 of them as a 3rd baseman, but has been switched to the outfield as of this past season because of the Royals next "3rd baseman of the future" being close and Alex's shortcomings thus far as a major leaguer. Speaking of his shortcomings, Gordon had a very realistic rookie season in 2007, as a 23 year old. He had a .725 OPS. He was able to raise that, in his sophomore season, to a .783 OPS; however, in the past two seasons he has played 49 and 74 games, respectively, and had .703 and .671 OPSes, respectively. He has been banished to a new position, yet has not seemed to fall too far out of favor with the executives of the ball club. In terms of WAR, Gordon had a high-WAR of 3.1 in 2008, but only has a career 4.0 because of the other three seasons' failures (for lack of better term).
So, why would I think Gordon is worth trading away one of my Cardinals? In 138 games at AA, Gordon hit .328 with a .429 OBP and a .593 SLG for an OPS north of 1.000. In 86 AAA games, Gordon's slash line was .315/.441/.560/1.000. He had 48 homers in 235 minor league games, along with 30 steals, only 5 caught. He walked 155 times and only struck out 212 times - a great ratio.
The Royals currently have an atrocious shortstop (Yuni Betancourt has a career 3.5 WAR in 7 seasons - compared to Brendan Ryan's 3.4 in 2009 alone) but probably an even worse outfield, so it might be very difficult for them to part with Alex Gordon, whose POTENTIAL impact bat at a corner outfield spot would be a HUGE plus for them. The Cardinals, meanwhile, could use another left-handed bat. Alex Gordon could be a very good backup at both corners in the infield and both corner OF spots. Lance Berkman will not play more than 120 games, I believe. Also, our third base position is as up for grabs as any position in the majors at the moment. I could see Alex Gordon playing over 100 games for the Cardinals under LaRussa's helm, and it would be played at a far better clip under Gordon than under Aaron Miles, Randy Winn, Nick Stavinoha, or Pedro Feliz - to name a few from last year alone. Plus, Gordon has been moved around a lot, but is still only entering his age 27 season.
Because of those reasons I just listed, Gordon's potential, lack of outfielders, and age, I believe the Royals would be hesitant to trade Gordon for Ryan alone, but I also believe that because of Gordon's shortcomings in translating a fantastic minor league career into a major league one the Cards would hesitate to part with much more. I am struggling to figure out what would be needed to make it a "fair deal," but I believe that this would be a good deal for the Cardinals IF they are INTENT on trading Ryan immediately.
Let me know your thoughts! Thanks!