Who Is Ronny Cedeno?

Believe me, I’d much rather be analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of someone who would have a much larger impact on the 2012 Mets. Unfortunately, the Mets have not given us very much to discuss this winter in terms of new personnel, so we have to play the cards we’re dealt. That said, let’s find out who this Ronny Cedeno guy is, OK?

You likely have seen Cedeno play at least a few times; he was on the Pirates the last two years, and began his career with Cubs back in 2004 — where he remained until 2009, when he was traded along with Garrett Olson to the Baltimore Orioles for former Met hero Aaron Heilman. Chances are, he was playing and you didn’t even notice him — which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. Your vague recollection might be of someone who looked like he was a decent fielder, an “eh” hitter, and otherwise blended into the background of the ballgame. But what kind of player is he, really?

The truth is, Ronny Cedeno is, overall, somewhere between below-average to average among today’s MLB shortstops. However, that’s more of an indictment of the dearth of quality MLB shortstops these days than it is a compliment to Cedeno. Step back and take a look at who is playing shortstop in this decade compared to the one previous, and you start to understand why Jose Reyes was given such a long, rich contract — there simply aren’t many today who can provide above-average to good performance on both sides of the ball. Don’t believe it? Check out other teams around MLB and see who their starting shortstop is — if they have one everyday guy rather than a platoon. You see names like Yuniesky Betancourt, Reid Brignac, Paul Janish, Jason Bartlett, Clint Barmes, and Brendan Ryan. The weakness at the position is the reason why Edgar Renteria and Alex Gonzalez keep getting contracts, and the ageless Omar Vizquel may find a job next spring.

But I digress … this is about Ronny Cedeno and not the state of affairs at the shortstop position.

In terms of raw ability, Cedeno has a strong arm, above-average mobility, and good hands defensively. He would project to be a good if unspectacular shortstop but unfortunately he suffers from frequent lapses in focus and makes maddening mental mistakes that nullify his positives. Offensively, his bat speed is below average to average, his discipline and strike zone judgment are poor, and his running speed is about average. If you look at his batting stats you’ll see someone who: strikes out far too often for a non-power hitter; doesn’t draw many walks; doesn’t steal many bases nor score many runs; drives in very few runs; and, frequently grounds into double plays. Strangely, he once hit 10 homeruns in 376 at-bats (2009) — though he did that while hitting .208. In 2010 he hit 8 HR with a .256 AVG but a .293 OBP. The slugging spurt ended in 2011, as he hit only 2 HR in 454 PAs; though, he did rip 25 doubles, which isn’t too shabby.

At age 29, and after 7 years in MLB, Ronny Cedeno “is what he is”. I don’t foresee him suddenly finding extreme focus on defense, or hitting .300 (though, stranger things have happened). As a starting shortstop, a team could do worse — though, not much worse. For what his role likely will be with the Mets — as a backup middle infielder — Cedeno is well-suited. He can play both sides of the bag well enough, and is probably a better defensive second baseman than anyone else in the organization. If this were 1975, he’d probably be the starting second baseman. But, in 2012, a Major League second sacker needs to provide either a bit more offensively or a lot more defensively.

Financially, I think the Mets did very well by signing him to a one-year, $1.1M contract; some feel that he’s worth at least three times that. Again, look around at middle infielders these days and you’ll understand why that’s so. For the Mets, I see Cedeno getting a decent amount of playing time, as a late-inning defensive replacement at second base but also sending Ruben Tejada to the bench for short periods — i.e., when Ruben runs cold and Cedeno gets hot. Overall, I can’t complain too much about this acquisition, though, it’s not exactly something that gets me excited. The main disappointment is that this would appear to be one of the team’s final moves of the offseason — a “final piece”, if you will.

Thoughts? Could the Mets have done better for a utilityman? If so, by acquiring who? And, how much playing time do you project for Ronny Cedeno? Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Reese Kaplan January 8, 2012 at 12:34 am
    A below average fielder with average or worse speed who has little to offer with the bat…and they could have done WORSE?

    Personally, I think they would have done just as well to pay major league minimum to one of the other recent pickups — Quintanilla or Wimberly for what should only be late inning defensive replacement for Murphy or the rare spot start. At least the other guys have well above average running speed. It was money thrown away.

  2. JoeJP January 8, 2012 at 12:45 am
    Eh. Could say more, but as others said before, not meant to be exciting and okay for what it is.
  3. Izzy January 8, 2012 at 7:57 am
    Can’t agree with the people who claim Cedeno is worth 3 times what the Mets paid him.. If it were close to the truth he’d be wearing another uniform. He didn’t give the Mets a home town discount. There was no market for Cedeno because no matter how weak the names you listed are, they are still better than Cedeno. I don’t think he’s as good as Wilson valdez and Valdez makes less than a mil. Meanwhile, our starting SS, Tejada is inferior to last year’s SS, Reyes, and the back up SS Cedeno is inferior to last year’s backup Tejada. Our backup catcher is inferior to last year’s back up catcher, our centerfielder is older and probably inferior to last year’s centerfielder, our bullpen, heralded by the devout followers of sandy is inferior to the bullpen we had after the lord brought isringhasen out of St Lucie exile. KROD//IZZY far superior to the mediocrities sandy brought in for 2012. Lots to be excited for in Queens.
  4. Steve S. January 8, 2012 at 8:51 am
    Ho hum. Not much of a bat, but can get some playing time in the middle of the infield. As a PH? My last choice. But he doesn’t cost much (and that’s the main point, isn’t it?).

    But that starting rotation?! It really needed improvement, and the $20 million or so (plus the $6 million that non-tendering “Big Pelf”) that was cut from that $110 budget (which really should have been a $140 million one in NYC) should have helped big time.

  5. Mike B January 8, 2012 at 10:00 am
    I think it is cute that you guys are analyzing mets off season pick ups. We are not waiting for a mike stanton or bryce harper to come up. We have a couple nice pitching prospects. Maybe I am a novice but I still dont see how this team is every gonna be good never mind in 5 years.

    The Mets are picking up other peoples garbage that no one else wants, and are keeping their garbage that no one wants. How this team is allowed to operate in NYC is beyond me, The only thing that I learned from this is Bud Selig is def a guy you want in your foxhole because he will protect you to the end.

  6. gary s. January 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm
    Casey Stengel when asked in 1962 why the mets picked a catcher with the first pick of the expansion draft (hobie landrith) answered tthat catcher is important, because without one you would get a lot of passed balls.I believe the Cedeno signing carries the same weight just applied to a different position.Without a ss you would have a lot of ground ball singles to left field.I am soooooo glad the Mets budget problems are not brcause of their ties to their buddy Madoff.What a bunch of lying weasels
  7. Kevin B January 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm
    Let’s say Tejada is injured. Who do the Mets run out to the shortstop position? This is a smart and necessary but inexpensive, short-term move.

    Gone are the days of the $24M contracts for the Luis Castillo types. Thank goodness! The Mets had the money in the past and it did them no good. Alderson has the team on the right track.

    • Mike B January 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm
      oh thank goodness, because in those days our team was a favorite to win the NL east every year and win 100 games a year. Now we are picked to win a 100 games every 2 years. I am just so glad the Mets dont have any money to waste on retaining their homegrown talent.
      • JoeJP January 9, 2012 at 10:38 am
        Castillo’s contract ended last year. 100 games was not too likely during much of his contract, though it is true they reached 97 in 2006. Wasting money on contracts like his, however, didn’t do much to return to that level.

        Anyway, if the author of this blog needs to fill space, similar length entries regarding the new closer, likely set-up man and third new reliever (which various viewers, if not the writer of the blog, felt was a good pick-up) plus the likely starting CF might be possibilities.

        • Mike B January 9, 2012 at 11:51 am
          The real problem is, a team from NY that takes it that kind of money should not even flinch when they make a mistake like they did with ollie P and Castillo.

          Maybe they didnt win in 07,08 and even 09 but we had higher hopes for those teams then we do now. At least in those years I was upset about the recent past not the immeadiate future.

        • JoeJP January 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm
          The last few years had a false hope nature to them. 2011 and now 2012, fans weren’t lulled into dreaming of “100 win” seasons, a stretch most of the last decade, even when the team did play winning ball. Like an empire in decline, I guess, the team could have papered over their problems (especially if Davis and Murphy and Wright etc. weren’t out chunks of time) and the false image could continue. Maybe this year! A lot of that since 1998, at least.

          Part of the problem was misspending that gave you enough to dream, but not enough to go the extra mile. 36M, even in NY, can’t just be shrugged off. It will be spent instead of alternatives like Cards like bullpens.

          The waste has to stop at some point and the success won’t be immediate. The team didn’t suddenly get to 2006 after the 2000 WS led into a lull. The team still has 40M or so invested in Bay and Santana alone in ’12, both big question marks. Smart moves for back-up infielders provide a bit of sanity next to that.

        • Mike B January 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm
          First have you ever heard of a guy named Kei Igawa, the yankees didnt flinch with him they made a mistake and moved on.
          Every team has a Jason Bay, who doesnt perfrom or a Santana who doesnt play. Adam wainwright didnt play this year and the Cards won the WS.
          And I am sorry but the 07 and 08 Mets teams were great teams just like this years Red Sox and this years Braves were great teams. And in 09 well SI just picked them to win 92 games and win the WS.
        • JoeJP January 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm
          The Yanks, yes even they, are somewhat restrained. Colon and Garcia were bargain pick-ups. At some point, especially with Madoff problems, even in NY money means something. The Mets don’t just have ONE Jason Bay. They had Bay, they had Castillo, they had Perez, they had Santana (out for year).

          The Mets didn’t have “great” teams in ’07 and ’08. Nor did the Red Sox or Braves this year. They had good teams that had fatal flaws. Glavine, Maine, Perez and such, a “great” rotation does not make. The bullpen was not “great” either. A “great team” doesn’t fall apart after a few weeks when the closer is hurt. etc.

        • Joe Janish January 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm
          I’m of the same mindset as Mike B. You’re right — the Mets did spend just enough to create hope, and weren’t a “great” team. Every year from 2006 through 2009 they spent just enough to keep that hope alive, but not enough to push the team over the top. Not sure if you were a MetsToday visitor way back then, but we discussed that exact topic as it was happening on several occasions.

          And further to Mike B.’s point — and again, something that was discussed ad nauseam here at the time — one would thing that the Mets were the only team in MLB saddled with bad contracts. Yeah, they had Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo but the SF Giants were stuck with Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. The Tigers had to bite the bullet on an expensive Gary Sheffield contract. The Rockies got nothing out of an expensive (for them) Garrett Atkins in 2009. The Brewers had Jeff Suppan. The Dodgers won their division two years in a row despite having the useless and expensive contracts of Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, and Esteban Loiaza sucking up space on their payroll. The list goes on and on — but it’s only used as an excuse for losing by the Mets. Why?

          In ’06, ’07, and ’08, the Mets were one or two pieces away from near perfection at the July deadline, but didn’t make a significant move. Why? Because Minaya couldn’t turn a deal? Or because the Wilpons refused to expand the budget to pick up someone like Manny, Jason Bay, Moises Alou, and/or the big arm they needed at the time? After watching this team through several front offices, and seeing the same patterns, I’m going with the latter. The Wilpons’ stated goal has always been to “play meaningful games in September” — not October.

  8. Rob January 9, 2012 at 9:36 am
    Joe: One question that just occurred to me as I was reading your article was where is the moneyball analysis in all of these mediocre acquisitions? When Alderson was hired, it was “moneyball with money”. Now that we know that the Mets have no money, where is the moneyball? Because that’s where the strengths supposedly lay for Alderson and his brain trust. So where is the overarching plan…where is the moneyball? And while I’m asking, what the heck is moneyball as an overarching philosophy? Is it simply OPS? Is it some other statistical focus? It occurs to me that the success of moneyball is dependent upon the notion that you are signing players that no one else wants because the other teams fail to recognize the statistical value of those “castoff” players. However, now that more than half of the teams employ a sabrmatician and have GM’s that lean in that direction, isn’t the type of player that fits into the moneyball model more expensive because everyone is looking for him now? And if everyone is employing that kind of analysis, then moneyball is no longer a cheap exercise in building a team.

    I’d sure like to know where the philosophy is with current management…besides saving money. Because I refuse to believe that there isn’t a long term plan that’s being employed in some way. I just don’t see it right now. I sure hope I’m wrong…

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • MikeT January 9, 2012 at 11:45 am
      I can’t believe its 2011, and there was a movie made out of it, and yet people still don’t understand Moneyball! Go read the book! It’s about market inefficiencies. OPS and OBP were all undervalued at the time this book was written. Bean got players cheaper than he should have simply because others did not value there worth correctly. That’s it. The reason Beane is a terribly GM now is that everyone else is aware of these philosophies and he can’t sneak up on anyone anymore. That and the true greatness of his teams was the pitching. Having three aces will make anything you do look great.

      Sandy was not even in Moneyball the way you think he was. Yeah it is the same group of people around him, i.e. Paul DePodesta, but trust me when I say that this is irrelevant. Moneyball is not the only thing the Mets are doing with their player acquisition strategy.

      • WK January 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm
        The thing about the approach some people like to call Moneyball is that is constantly evolving. As Mike T points out, it’s based on exploiting market inefficiencies, and most people don’t recognize those inefficiencies at the time. After all, if they did, the inefficiencies wouldn’t exist. The whole idea of Moneyball is taking advantage of things your competition doesn’t see.

        Back in 2000. Moneyball may have meant looking at OBP when everyone else was looking at AVG. But once everyone else started copying that approach (a process which was sped up by Beane’s short-sighted decision to cooperate with Michael Lewis so a fawning book could be written about him), Moneyball had to evolve into something else. A high OBP player is no longer a “Moneyball player” because EVERYONE recognizes that player has value.

        So what has Moneyball become since then?

        Well, for a while the Rays exploited inefficiencies when they realized you could actually project how many runs a player could save you on defense. That was moneyball circa 2005. But now everyone is using stats like UZR, and that advantage is now lost.

        Then, in the last couple of years, we starting seeing stats like WARP – the idea that you could quantify how many WINS a player was worth. My guess is that some teams must have been using those kinds of stats before they became mainstream as their versions of “Moneyball”. But once again, everyone now knows about it.

        So what is Moneyball circa 2012? What top secret formula are Alderson, Depodesta, etc. using to evaluate talent? Who knows. My guess is…see what the hot new stat is two years from now, and that’s what Moneyball is today.


        • MikeT January 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm
          I think the Rays were actually exploiting the Draft and international signings. Once the Red Sox and Yankees began doing the same, MLB stepped in and made it impossible for a small market to exploit that market. Sad that the Royals and Pirates only recently caught on (as did the Mets).

          You’re right though, who know what the next Moneyball market will be.

      • Joe Janish January 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm
        Mike T., I think Rob understands the concept of Moneyball from this sentence:

        “It occurs to me that the success of moneyball is dependent upon the notion that you are signing players that no one else wants because the other teams fail to recognize the statistical value of those “castoff” players.”

        In other words, exploiting a market inefficiency.

        But as he also points out, what inefficiencies are left, considering that everyone is now crunching numbers? Hobie, below, I believe is making a joke but how funny is it? If everyone is punching keys on a calculator, then maybe the new market inefficiency is visual evaluation — i.e., what’s old is what’s new. It’s not the the craziest theory, is it?

        Something else: I don’t believe for a second that Sandy Alderson was using the same tactics for the A’s championship clubs that Billy Beane employed in the 21st century. Rather, I think he just got lucky in finding huge pieces off the scrap heap such as Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley. What was the market inefficiency then? Finding value in cross dressers and alcoholics? The big pieces of the offense were two steroid-enhanced beasts and high-priced free agents. I don’t really get how Alderson was the godfather of Moneyball, and even if he is, what he can possibly uncover now, in a much more advanced technological age. It has to be something completely different, such as psychological training or voodoo. The “sign guys coming off arm surgery” experiment failed miserably … so what’s next coming out of the Flushing laboratory?

        • MikeT January 10, 2012 at 11:47 am
          I don’t believe Sandy used Moneyball either, which is why I said as much. Sandy was just one of the first to really look at SABR-metrics.
    • HobieLandrith January 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm
      Maybe the market inefficiency now is evaluating a player based on a visual analysis rather than the stats. You know, what scouts did for the 100 years before the Moneyball book came out.
  9. Spike January 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm
    Geez, I have no clue as to what Moneyball has to do with any of this.

    The amusing thing about any references to Moneyball being meaningful is that it omits the most important factor in the success of the ’02 A’s – Zito, Hudson, & Mulder.

  10. Bob January 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    I find this signing very puzzling. The bench is going to be very, very weak from an offensive standpoint and this guy’s defensive game is a dime a dozen.

    For a moneyball Gm I also find it surprising because the guy is a lousy hitter. What I mean by that is the guy’s middle name is “K.” We don;t need anymore strikeouts on this team. At the very least, get a guy who can put the ball in play.

    I am sure you can find a good fielding, contact hitter somewhere that would be heads and shoulders better than this guy, even soemwhere in AAA somewhere/

  11. Bryan R January 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm
    Ryan Theriot would have been a better acquisition for the mets but a little more expensive since he is a better hitter than Cedeno. I also think that the mets should resign Miguel batista for another year he was great with 1.36 era with the mets and can give the mets innings as a long reliever and as a back up starter
  12. JoeJP January 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm
    Meanwhile, F-Mart, Herrera on way out to clear spots for Cedeno and Hairston.
  13. JoeJP January 10, 2012 at 1:30 am
    “I’m of the same mindset as Mike B. You’re right — the Mets did spend just enough to create hope, and weren’t a “great” team. ”

    He thinks they were a great team. So, not quite the same mindset.

    ” the Mets were the only team in MLB saddled with bad contracts.”

    Again, not quite on the same page. The Giants couldn’t just ignore the bad contracts. They had some affect on how much money they spent. They went all the way with a couple hitters shining and not expensive starter studs other than the Zito. And, the next year they came back to earth because they couldn’t just spend at will.

    Citing one or even two bad contracts also doesn’t mean — like Mike said — the team could just shrug it off. And, the Mets had Perez, Castillo, Bay (a dubious contract that people worried about from the beginning even before he got hurt), AND Santana (out for year, and unlike Wainwright, who knows what he has left?) PLUS obviously Madoff financial type problems.

    Also, of course, various teams also lose because of bad contracts and injuries too. And,the NL West is easier than the NL East. The Mets could have got in three times in a row with a bit less competition. Dodgers also had not so good years besides two wins.

    “In ’06, ’07, and ’08, the Mets were one or two pieces away from near perfection at the July deadline, but didn’t make a significant move.”

    Mike thinks these teams were “great.” But, I’m not denying bad choices hurt the team too. They had the money if they used it wisely enough. Bad contracts didn’t help. 18M for Perez and Castillo. Around the same for Bay, who was a desperation move to prove they “did something.” The same amount or more for Santana, hurt. At some point, contra Mike, the money kinda matters.

    Again, the management made lousy choices too. It’s like someone who’s a drunk. The margin of error is less. Of course, Mike thought the team was “great” when it was not, so ironically he was drinking some of their kool aid.

    • Mike B January 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm
      By the way, Jason Bay was a desperation move? The guy avgeraged 30 hrs and 100rbis. At the time I liked Matt halliday a little better but I was happy Jason Bay was coming back to the Mets.
      • JoeJP January 12, 2012 at 11:16 am
        Yes, a four year deal with that much money when there was clear dissent on how good he would do in the long term away from Boston at the time looked a bit desperate — the team had to SOMETHING that offseason. Other than that, what exactly did it do?
        • Mike B January 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm
          I guess anytime you have to give millions and millions of dollars to grown man it can come off desperate.

          You know Joe I dont know your take on what you want the mets to do but what do you want the mets to do?

          My opinion is if you want a successful ML team and for it to last more than 1 season you have to spend on contracts of Bay and Reyes even though there is risk involved and even when you have failed before. Its just the cost of business in sports these days anyone who thinks different is from a different era.

  14. NormE January 10, 2012 at 9:33 am
    I think that Joe Janish cut right to the chase when he pointed his finger at the Wilpons. Whether we’re dealing with Omar or Sandy, and neither one is incompetent as a baseball person, the fault lies with the unwillingness of ownership to
    make the financial commitment to play in Oct. rather than “meaningful”games in Sept.
    I’m guessing that ownership did a cost analysis and felt that being competitive in Sept. was good enough for the bottom line. Paying more money to try to win it all was too costly a gamble their mindset.
  15. Mike B January 10, 2012 at 9:50 am
    Have we come to arguing over adjectives? Ok gun to my head they werent great, they were good, above average.

    I dont know every teams contract sitution and I am not going to research it at this time. At the end of the day not every contract works out and teams find a way to win.

    Again not knowing everything about the money coming in, but with a team in NYC and a cable network I excpect the mets to be in the 150-170 million range, and of course in any business some of the investment will underachieve or get injured.
    I agree with Joe J that the management didnt make bad choices but were likely handcuffed from making any decisions. For the record I liked the Bay, Santana and even Ollie P signing at the time.

    I dont drink any of this teams Kool aid trust me, but I did have high hopes for my team every December in the years we are discussing you know the Above average good years of 06-09.