The Venezuelan, who turns 30 years of age in two weeks, first came up with the Chicago Cubs in 2005. In 2009, Cedeno was traded to Seattle then Pittsburgh. Replacing fan favorite Jack Wilson, he remained a Pirate, starting at shortstop before moving to the New York Mets last season.
Cedeno has a history of nagging injuries with periods of strong defensive play and encouraging offense interrupted by maddening mental lapses. Streakiness, inconsistency and resulting frustration seem to dog him like a bad cold.
In 2010, Cedeno suffered through hand, lower back, wrist and shoulder injuries. The free swinger struck out 106 times in 468 at-bats with Pittsburgh.
Despite an on-base percentage of .293 in 2010, the Pirates decided to keep him for 2011. They paid Cedeno a base of $1.85 million plus incentives with a $3 million club option for 2012 or a $200,000 buyout. Even so, the Bucs were reportedly looking for an upgrade at short during that off-season, even as Cedeno played some outfield in winter ball.
As 2011 camp opened, Cedeno was the Bucs’ shortstop, however manager Clint Hurdle expressed public concern over Cedeno’s lack of concentration. Despite a finger injury during spring training, Cedeno was the starter on opening day.
After a series of defensive lapses, before April was out, Cedeno lost playing time when Brandon Wood was acquired via waivers. Cedeno did not help matters by not running out a ground ball in late April. In May, he got hot with the bat and returned to playing most days, logging an impressive 40-game errorless streak at short in the process.
In late June, Cedeno angered his manager once again by attempting a bases-loaded bunt. He followed that with a streak of hitting almost .500 over a two-week span before suffering a concussion.
After three weeks on the disabled list, Cedeno was activated. Soon he was benched again with focus problems. A frustrated Hurdle noted, “There was a time that Ronny was probably playing the best shortstop in the game.” Obviously, that time was in the past.
Rather than keep Cedeno for 2012, the Bucs bought out his option following the season. Last January, he signed a $1.1 million deal with the Mets.
For New York, Cedeno played some third base in April when David Wright was injured, but before the month was out, he went on the DL himself with an intercostal strain.
Returning to the active roster in May, Cedeno teased the Mets with an improved on-base performance and was rewarded with a move to the leadoff spot. It didn’t last long. A few days later, he was back on the DL, this time with a calf strain.
Activated again in late June, Cedeno moved into a middle infield reserve role. On August 2 against the Giants, he matched a career high with five RBI. He became a free agent again following the season after posting a line of .259/.332/.410 in 186 plate appearances.
It remains to be seen if the Cardinals are serious about wanting to ride the Cedeno rollercoaster. Perhaps they would be lucky and Cedeno and Rafael Furcal could alternate DL stints. Given Cedeno’s past, anything beyond a very modest make-good deal would seem a questionable investment.
For those depressed about the possibility, think of it this way. Ronny would have to be really bad to become the worst Cedeno to join the Cardinals from the Mets. That honor goes to outfielder Roger Cedeno, who logged a .372 OPS (yes, OPS) in his second partial season with St. Louis before being released in June 2005.
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