Cardinals Trade Ryan To Seattle

The Brendan Ryan Era has officially come to an end in St. Louis.

The Cardinals today have announced that Brendan Ryan has been traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospect pitcher Maikel Cleto.

According to early speculation in Seattle, Ryan will be given the opportunity to challenge Jack Wilson for the starting shortstop position and will, most likely, see time at second base while rookie Dustin Ackley develops in through the system.

The Mariners have acquired the best defensive shortstop in the game, a high-energy ball player that sometimes can be his own worst enemy, and a fan favorite player that is incredibly endearing. But what did the Cardinals get in return?

Cleto is a pitcher that has confused most people that have evaluated him. He is a high velocity guy that throws consistently in the low to mid 90’s, sometimes reaching 97 MPH. He has struggled to develop a secondary pitch with various scouts opining about his “below average curveball” or his “yet to be developed slider”. Additionally, scouts have been confused by the hit-ability of his fastball. Most reports suggest that his heater is incredibly straight and shows little movement, leaving it hittable, even at High-A ball, where Cleto spent most of 2010. During his tour in High-A ball, Cleto would establish a 4-9 record with a 6.16 earned run average in 23 games (21 starts). He would strikeout 83 while walking 44, surrender more than a hit per inning pitched, and give up just under one home run per nine innings pitched. Cleto is a 21 year old starting pitcher from the Dominican Republic who spent most of 2009 battling Visa issues after being traded from the Mets’ system to the Mariners in the JJ Putz trade two years ago today. The Mariners had placed Cleto on their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Not regarded as a top prospect, Cleto does show the potential to be impressive, though most experts predict any pending success will come in the bullpen and not in the starting rotation. With development of his slider and a decent off-speed pitch, I would have to wonder if the Cardinals are seeing a potential back of the bullpen type arm.

Brendan Ryan may very well be the type of player that looks to rebound from a forgettable season while enjoying a change of scenery. Ryan last season hit .223 after posting a .292 average and winning the starting shortstop position the year before. He would struggle at the plate, showing little patience and taking his frustrations onto the field, allowing it to affect his otherwise brilliant defense. Given playing time, constructive criticism, and ample structure in his job, Ryan has the opportunity to reinvent himself in the American League and show the Cardinals’ organization that they may have given up a little too soon. With a young, rebuilding, struggling and often frustrating team in Seattle currently, Ryan will not have to perform at astonishing levels to keep his position in the Mariners’ starting lineup.

The story of Brendan Ryan in St. Louis suggests that there is more to the story than the public is being made aware of. If that is true, I commend the organization and the shortstop for being sensitive to the matter and ensuring that a player was not “run out of town”.

All things considered, this trade may have been just what the doctor ordered for the player and both teams involved.

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