Here’s the deal: I’ve flip-flopped on the issue of Brendan Ryan more than a dying fish gasping for air on dry land while wearing a John Kerry mask (or a John McCain mask, depending on your politics). I’ve written about how his offense is bullshit and he needs to be run out of town; I’ve written about how his defense is unmatched and we should just learn to live with what we’ve got; I’ve written that the Wise Old Buffalo is a son of a bitch (now; right now I’ve written that).
Brendan Ryan has officially been benched. It might only be for a week or two, it might be for a month or two, or it might be for the rest of the season (and, thus, the rest of his Mariners career). I suppose Wedge could’ve just started Andino a few extra times per week and eventually we would’ve noticed, but instead he decided to lay down the law verbally. Brendan Ryan needs to learn how to hit. Until he’s able to do so, (or until Andino gets injured), he’s going to be our backup short stop.
A lot of people think this idea is idiotic. Yeah, I mean I guess. Brendan Ryan is terrible at offense and great at defense. Robert Andino is terrible at offense and so-so at defense. Even if Andino is a marginally better hitter than Ryan (.161 batting average to Ryan’s .143), Ryan’s defense would more than make up for the difference. I don’t know how great Andino would have to bat to equalize things, but odds are he won’t achieve it.
I get that. Really.
What I won’t listen to, though, is how Ryan is just unlucky. How his BABIP is drastically below his career norm. That, my friends, is bullshit. That’s playing with the numbers to come up with an argument more to your liking. Because, you honestly have to consider: maybe this is who Brendan Ryan really is. Throw out his career numbers! Nobody cares how Brendan Ryan hit in St. Louis back in 2009! What I care about is how he hit in 2012, and THOSE numbers indicate he’s finished as an everyday player. A .194 batting average over a full season isn’t going to cut it. Yes, his BABIP might be low, but it also might be dead-on for Brendan Ryan’s capabilities here in his 31st year of life.
My point on Twitter is valid: Run prevention is great and all, but at some point you need run GENERATION. You can’t Amazing Defense your way to giving the other team negative runs. The best you can hope for is to Amazing Defense your way to zero runs, but that’s pretty fucking hard to do, even with the best pitcher in the game going every fifth day.
Is Andino the answer? I doubt it. Will he be better than Ryan at the plate? Probably. Will he be remarkably better than Ryan at the plate? Again, I doubt it.
But, maybe this is what Brendan Ryan needs to kickstart things into gear. Any gear. Any gear that’s not N for Numbnuts. Maybe he just needs time behind the scenes to work on his swing. Maybe he needs to take the pressure off and work his shit out in the comfort of an underground batting cage. Or, shit, maybe he just needs to stop playing every day. You know how Guti isn’t an Everyday Player anymore, on account of he’s so fragile? Maybe Ryan isn’t an Everyday Player anymore, on account of he’s trying to hit baseballs with a wet noodle.
Brad Miller, come on down! You’re the next contestant on “Disappointing Mariners Baseball Players!”