July 9, 2012 at 9:06 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
With news of Andrelton Simmons being out likely a month, the Braves have an issue at hand at the shortstop position — once again.
The options right now are to start Jack Wilson, who is essentially all glove and no bat, or go with Tyler Pastornicky, who has a better bat that still isn’t any good and an awful glove. Of the two, I would likely start Wilson due to his defense. The Braves need help with run prevention, and Wilson would obviously be the preferable option in that regard.
Even though Wilson’s defense is superb, he has fallen off quite a bit since his peak years. Trusting defensive metrics for his game at shortstop the past two years is unwise, but it is somewhat obvious in his play that he has lost a few steps. Rather than go with Wilson, who has absolutely no offensive potential and is not as good of a defender as he once was, I would like to see the Braves trade for Brendan Ryan to start for the next month or so, then cut Wilson when Simmons returns and make Ryan the utility infielder.
Ryan does not have a bat either, with a wRC+ of 60, but he at least does walk and has the potential to hit enough to justify being played every day. His fielding is top notch, as he is likely the best defensive shortstop in the league — it’s between him and Simmons, in my opinion — so he is good enough to play just based off of that alone. If his BABIP rises up to his career .287 from its current level of .234, he could be a ~80 wRC+ guy with tremendous defense, which certainly has value.
He won’t cost much at all and he likely is not all that coveted of a trade target. The Mariners are going nowhere, so moving a guy like Ryan will certainly not be a difficult move for them to make. I advocated a trade for Ryan in the pre-season, and I especially think he is a guy the Braves should target after they have exhausted all of their options.
Consider that Ryan has been a 1.6 win player according to FanGraphs and a 2.7 win player according to Baseball-Reference before simply yelling about his batting average. Not all value is easily quantifiable, but top notch defense like Ryan’s has value and the Braves would be wise to acquire him as they currently lack any above replacement level option.