As mentioned in yesterday’s article about Rich Hill, the Chicago Cubs organization is facing tough decisions on young players who are all out of minor league options. The club has already sold low on outfield prospect Felix Pie, who was dispatched to Baltimore for a No. 4 or 5 starter and a minor league pitcher. Infielder Ronny Cedeno is another player that is currently on the bubble, and he could very well find himself traded before April 5.
Due to the club’s lack of depth in other areas on the big league roster, any trade would probably have to bring back minor league talent, which would help the somewhat barren system. If the Cubs cannot find suitable trading partners for Cedeno, or for Hill, the organization may want to find a way to work the players onto the 25-man roster. Pie had the greatest trade value of the three players and the organization could only get Garrett Olson back for him.
Cedeno has the chance to be at least an average Major League starting middle infielder. He wowed a lot of people at shortstop while coming up through the minors but has not been quite as consistent at the Major League level and his range has been hampered at times. Cedeno, 26, spent a fair bit of time at second base in 2008 and looked solid, making only two errors in 273 innings.
Offensively, Cedeno is still a work in progress. He spent the majority of 2006 as the Cubs’ starting shortstop but hit just .245/.271/.339 with an ISO of .094 in 534 at-bats. Cedeno then spent the majority of the 2007 season in Triple-A where he hit .359/.422/.537 in 75 games.
In 2008, Cedeno had a chance to play a number of positions for the Cubs and showed improvements with the bat over the 2006 season by posting a line of .269/.328/.352 with an ISO of .083. Now obviously those numbers do not set the world on fire, but Cedeno showed the ability to make adjustments and improvements while also not playing every day, which can be tough for a young player.
Cedeno’s walk rate improved significantly between 2006 and 2008 and more than doubled from 3.1 to 7.7 BB%. His strikeout rate held close from 20.4 to 19.0 K%, which is still a little high for a player of his skill set (ie. zero power). Cedeno also does not show an aptitude for stealing bases, having stolen just 15 in 25 attempts in 329 MLB games.
Both the Bill James and CHONE projection systems feel Cedeno is going to show more improvements in 2009 by hitting .277/.324/.393 and .281/.332/.412, respectively. Marcel, meanwhile, sees the Venezuelan taking a small step backward.
There are a number of clubs that could benefit from a middle infielder that possesses some potential upside with the bat, as well as solid defence. Teams that could use Cedeno at shortstop include the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, and San Diego Padres.
Here is a comparison, offensively, of some of the players being considered for starting gigs by the teams listed above – all of whom are at least two years older than Cedeno.
.269/.328/.352 | $0.8 M | Ronny Cedeno (Chicago NL)
.267/.332/.356 | $1.1 M | Marco Scutaro (Toronto)
.265/.289/.429 | $1.3 M | Wilson Betemit (Chicago AL)
.284/.344/.382 | $4.0 M | Nick Punto (Minnesota)
.237/.296/.349 | $5.3 M | Bobby Crosby (Oakland)
.265/.343/.349 | $0.9 M | David Eckstein (San Diego)
How out-of-whack do the Punto and Crosby 2009 salaries look? Those teams could certainly benefit by taking a flyer on Cedeno, who has the chance to surpass each and every one of them offensively. He’s probably already a better fielder than any of those Major Leaguers- and he’s also the least expensive player on the list.
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