In Thursday’s series finish against the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan was left out of the starting lineup, for good reason. The 28-year old has been an utter failure as the Cardinals’ starting shortstop.

His batting average is .173, which would be a little disappointing by anyone’s standards.

Ryan was not expected to win any batting titles, but the Cardinals were willing to barter with his bat in exchange for his stellar glove.

I, as did some others, pegged Ryan as my preseason pick for a Gold Glove. How wrong I was.

In the first two games of the Houston series, Ryan made a combined four errors, which led to a combined nine unearned runs for Cardinals starters Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. Both pitchers have every right to be disgusted by Ryan’s lack of effort, both at the plate and in the field.

Luckily for St. Louis, they have an answer to the issue. Unfortunately, that answer is currently rehabilitating from a sore right elbow. Felipe Lopez, who the Cardinals signed at the beginning of Spring Training, should succeed Ryan at short.

Ryan has been hitting ninth in Tony LaRussa’s modified lineup, and the Cardinals manager hinted change could be on the way.

“It’s what it always is,” La Russa said Thursday. “The best guy plays—every position. Brendan is the guy we expect to be the best guy, but I don’t think he should play today. If somebody jumps in there and plays better, he plays. If we’ve got a better catcher than [Yadier Molina], he plays. … We believe in Brendan, but this is not the Minor Leagues.”

Lopez, who started as shortstop for the Reds in 2005 and made an All-Star team, would not be much of an improvement on defense (evidenced by his .970 fielding percentage in ’05), but he would almost certainly help a Cardinals offense that is struggling at the plate.

There is even the possibility that Brendan Ryan could be sent down to Memphis, with infielders Tyler Greene and Aaron Miles ready to take his spot.

Ryan is a talented player and a good clubhouse influence, so few Cardinals fans want to see him sent down, but you won’t hear many complaints if Felipe Lopez takes the field next week in his place.

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