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Will the Cardinals ride the Ronny Cedeno rollercoaster?

On Friday, CBS’ Jon Heyman reported the St. Louis Cardinals are among a group of teams interested in free agent shortstop/second baseman Ronny Cedeno.

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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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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43 Responses to “Will the Cardinals ride the Ronny Cedeno rollercoaster?”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Ahh….Roger Cedeno also came from the Mets. And he was a shadow of his peak self. He was horrible as a Cardinal, released by June.
    Nonetheless, for perspective, our team was good and we made the playoffs, despite the short dalliance with Rog.

    One of the problems fans have with ballplayers is they are not all All Stars. Only 25 hall of famers can be on our team. Except, that’s not a very realistic hope.

    I like the idea of Ronny Cedeno, not depressing at all. Mo said he is perusing the free agent pool for a middle infielder. Exploring Ronny Cedeno would be consistent with Mo’s story. We could use another veteran middle infielder. Cedeno can hit and add depth. Welcome aboard Ronny, let the games begin!

    • JumboShrimp says:

      742 OPS by Ronny during 2012, though hampered by limited at bats, off the bench. Anything above 700 is good for a shortstop, hence Ronny surpassed a reasonable offensive expectation for a ML SS.

      For perspective, we suffered through Cesar at 629 OPS during 2008, while 2012 Mariners fans had endured 571 supplied by Brendan Ryan, truly putting the ugh into ugh.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Funny, I could have sworn you said they would not be adding any infielders and in fact, traded Skip specifically to make room for Kozma…

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Brian, you seem muddled. Please know, I am not unconcerned.

        I recall stating Skip was washed up. You defended Skip as unchanged, the same old washed up as he had long been. However, Mo broke our tie and agreed with me, shipping Skip out to join Mark with Donnie B, tres amigos.

        September Stud Kozma has certainly been a strong candidate to backfill the Skipster. But now Mo has moved boldly to alter the balance of power within the Central Division by recruiting THE Ronny Cedeno, Pete may be looking forward to the prospect of more finishing at AAA.

        Go Ronny Go!

        • Brian Walton says:

          December 25: “The Cards moved Skp, to clear roster space for Pete…” – JumboShrimp

          • JumboShrimp says:

            The Cards moved Skip, a second baseman, to allow a different use of this roster slot. Mark McGwire headed home to S. California, to team up with Donnie Baseball. Skip is also from S. California and Mark’s friend. It was great to be able to help both men move closer to home. They have each been wonderful contributors to the Cards, hence Mo was pleased to help them along the journey of life.

            With Skip out of the way, there is a roster slot for a right swinging player who can serve at both SS and at 2B. On December 25, the leading contender to fill this new slot was September hero Pete Kozma. Nothing surprising about my post to this effect.

            Yet Mo also loves depth and competition. Maybe he reads posts here about how awful our September hero really is. Maybe this scares Mo and he thinks, hmm, maybe I should add a veteran right swinging SS/2B-man? Rumor has it the Cards bid on the 37 year old 2Bman of the Giants from Venezuela, who hit so well against us in the NLCS, but the Giants spent their brains out to retain him. Mo has cleverly come up with a younger Venezuelan in Ronny! He telegraphed his interest in a veteran SS/2Bman, I guessed Freddy Sanchez or Ryan Theriot, but it turned out to be Ronny.

            Mo’s work to craft the 2013 edition of the Cards is done, unless a surprise bargain comes our way. With Mr. September, Wiggy, Ronny, Johnson, and old Choate, our team is complete. Lets strap on the helmets and get after it for 2013. Hooray! Bring on the Reds.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Mo landed a nice deal by inking Ronny. He can play SS, which we need, given doubts about Furcal. He is only 29. Ronny is a good bet offensively to have an OPS between 640 and 680. Having been in the majors for a while, Cedeno knows the game and given his age which is a peak time for many players, he could potentially lift performance; there is some upside potential.

              With Roger Cedeno, he was a speed guy who suffered hamstring tears. After he returned from injury, the speed was gone and he did not have anything else. With Ronny, he should be in his prime and if needed, he could step up and do a good job.

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Ronny nailed 5 RBIs in one game versus the Giants. We could have used those 5 during Game 5 against Zito.

                Mo has had a great winter. We landed J R Towles, so he cannot collect 7 RBIs in one game against us, at least during 2013. And we added Ronny the Giant killer. Terrif.

                • JumboShrimp says:

                  Ronny was SS for the Cubs during 2006. For 2007, the Cubs spent big and brought in big time, intense manager Lou Piniella, TLR’s pal. Ronny was displaced at SS by Ryan Theriot. Thus Ronny was replaced by the intense Theriot. Small world. Now Ronny is backstopping Theriot’s injury riddled replacement, Raffy.

                  Now Theriot is post-peak, whereas Cedeno is still in his age prime. And the Cards still have Jose Quendo and September Stud Kozma, to help motivate Cedeno to maintain intensity. This looks like a good tactical signing.

                  • JumboShrimp says:

                    Ronny Cedeno has started 531 games in the majors at SS. At 2B, he has started 75 games. He has also started 5 times at 3B.

                    Cedeno could also help out in the OF. He started 4 games in LF for Seattle. Now that Skip and Hector Luna are gone, Cedeno could provide the Cards some flexibility between OF and IF.

  2. jj-cf-stl says:

    wigginton, cedeno, filler vet of the month. looks like trade positioning for Mo, with adams, Koz, jackson, etc as the chips.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Clearly I am elated about the signing of Ronny Cedeno. Ronny is much more uplifting to the spirits than Wiggy or Old Choate.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    There may be a lesson to be learned from the baseball career of infielder Marco Scutaro. Scutaro is Venezuelan and turned pro age 18 in 1994. He spent years at AAA, circa 1999-2003. He did not get much ML opportunity until 2004, with the As, circa age 28. Scutaro has had steady ML employment since and did much to get the Giants into the playoffs and into the World Series. He just signed a 3 year deal that will carry him through age 40. A long ML career for an unglitzy player let go by the Brewers and Mets.

    Scutaro’s example may be relevant for Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno is still a young player, age 30. If he applies himself and enjoys good health, Cedeno could perform at the ML level for another 5 to 10 years, like Scutaro has. This could translate into wonderful earnings. If Ronny is smart, he will strive to have a big year with the Cards so as to cash in by landing a multiyear contract next winter.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    According to Wikipedia, “Venezuela is well known for its successes in beauty pageants….Venezuela has received 6 Miss World, 6 Miss Universe, 6 Miss International and 1 Miss Earth titles.”

    Venezuela is just north of the equator, so it has warm weather. Weather to make you thirsty for a cool one. The country’s biggest beer supplier is Polar.

    To help educate Venezuelans about Polar pilsens, the company employs “Chicas Polar.” According to Wikipedia, Aura Avila served Polar during 2006 to 2009.

    When the Cards started fielding a team in Venezuela, it might have been 2006 or so. And the first location for our Venezuelan squad was near a Polar factory.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        There are a lot of jobs, on this Earth. A lot of these jobs are difficult or tedious, some are even occupationally dangerous.

        Happily, some other jobs are fun. Not all work has to be pure drudgery. For instance, consider the occupation of serving as a bikini model. You get to wear lots of nice bikinis, some stylish. You get to smile a lot and be likeable. You get to perform your work at pretty locations, like sunny beaches. One of the occupational hazards would be too much sun, so you probably are given sun-screen lotions for free.

        Then, because you do your bikini job really well, your photos appear on billboards and magazine covers. This gives you the benefit of lots of publicity, and opens up other jobs, like acting in television commercials during which you wear more clothing.

    • blingboy says:

      Jumbo, stats oriented guys such as yourself tend to look at info from years past and draw unwarrented conclusions about the pesent. Aura was a chicas up until 2009. So you think we’re getting a hottie, but she might well be a hag by now. I Know nothing about Mrs Kozma or Mrs Jackson, but a bikini hag would not be an upgrade. I just hope Mo did his homework.

  6. Brian Walton says:

    Cedeno’s expectations may need adjustment. Or maybe he asked to see Furcal’s medicals before agreeing to sign… 😉

    “Cedeño was displeased with his agents last year because he wanted to be a starter, not a backup, so he had no intention of re-signing with the Mets,” says Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

  7. Bw52 says:

    Veteran backup……..what`s not to like? Could be Manager Matheny wanted another option for the infield.Makes me think the Matt Carpenter to 2B isn`t going as well as hoped.

  8. blingboy says:

    The three lefty NRIs makes me think there is little confidence in Garcia.

  9. blingboy says:

    I think what Mo was looking at was what if there is no Furcal. Going all or a major part of the season with Kozma and Jackson would be kinda scary.

  10. blingboy says:

    Three pitchers invited last year but not now: Jordan Swagerty, Nick Greenwood, Tyrell Jenkins.

    Swagerty was out all last year, the other two were not exciting, although Jenkins remains a hot prospect for now. Greenwood is the throw in we got in the Lugwick for Westbrook trade.

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