Cardinals trade Brendan Ryan for young righty Maikel Cleto

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The Cardinals did it.  They got rid of Brendan Ryan.

St. Louis GM John Mozeliak tried to shop the slick-fielding shortstop throughout the Winter Meetings last week and drew only minimal interest, but Mo pulled off a trade today with the Mariners.  This from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

The Cards will get young right-hander Maikel Cleto in return.  He’s a 21-year-old with a fastball that reaches into the high-90s, but he turned in an ugly 6.16 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 102.1 innings at the Single-A level in 2010.

The kid is a raw talent — not fully developed, but a fine return for Mozeliak and Co.

Ryan is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and should see ample time there for the Mariners in 2011, especially if Jack Wilson’s surgically-repaired right hand continues to be a problem.   The 28-year-old Ryan batted only .223 with a 573 OPS in St. Louis this year and was far from an everyday player by the end of his tenure.  But it was only a season ago that he registered a 740 OPS and a .292 batting average.  While that may have been his peek, who’s to say that he can’t again come close?

The Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers earlier this winter and Mozeliak almost immediately named him the club’s new starting shortstop.  Some viewed that as a conscious move to drive Brendan out of town, or at least make him expendable, but it was mostly about the Cardinals’ desire to add more offense.

Most of of Ryan’s so-called focus issues in St. Louis were overblown.  The Cards simply wanted to upgrade their run production and did exactly that with the Theriot acquisition.  Ryan is generally seen as a good clubhouse guy, he was probably just a little too playful for a club with serious-minded veterans like Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols.  Oh, and a manager like Tony La Russa.  There’s little doubt that he has played a commanding role in all of the Cardinals’ decisions this offseason.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.