August 24, 2010

2011 Shortstop Options

It is no secret that this Pirates team has been rather terrible offensively. The numbers say they are last in the National League in runs scored, but it is really worse than that. There are certain games where it s just certain before the game that the Pirates won't score. For example, I would be shocked if they got over two runs in tonight's game. One looks like a good bet.

Lineup changes are certainly in order for 2011. One obvious area for improvement is shortstop where Ronny Cedeno, though serviceable defensively, simply can't hit well enough to warrant being an MLB regular.

Acquired in the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell deal, Cedeno hit .248/.307/.394 in 46 games at the end of last year while playing below average defense. This year he has played above average defense and is hitting .245/.288/.366. He has 19 walks and 88 strikeouts. That might look like a bad year to you but by OPS+ this is Cedeno's career year.

Cedeno is making $1.1 million this year and is eligible for his final year of arbitration. He would probably get around $1.5 million if tendered a contract, but I think the far wiser move is to non-tender him and let him catch on elsewhere as a utility infielder. The Pirates can't afford to have him in their lineup and $1.5 million is too much for a player who can't hit.

Here are the potential free agent shortstops who are currently starters:

Orlando Cabrera is hitting .260/.302/.339 this season for the Reds, which is poor enough that Cincinnati probably will decline his $4 million mutual option for next year and use Paul Janish as their starter. O-Dog was productive from 2001-08 but he will be 36 next year making him a poor bet to rebound to respectable numbers. He hasn't hit for power since he wore an Expos uniform. Pass.

Alex Gonzalez, at .261/.307/.479, has probably shown enough pop that the Braves pick up his $2.5 million option - especially considering they just traded for him.

Cristian Guzman is hitting .263/.309/.334 and is another Cedeno-like player - a free swinger with little power. Pass.

Jerry Hairston Jr., hitting .252/.307/.364 with San Diego, would actually be an upgrade over Cedeno and would cost around $2 million. You could do worse but he's really better suited to a utility role.

Derek Jeter at .277/.340/.387 is having the worst year of his career but possibly the best year of anyone on this list. It would be hilarious if the Yankees didn't bring him back and he signed with the Pirates. However, the Yankees will bring him back.

Jhonny Peralta is hitting .239/.306/.395, which would be an upgrade over Cedeno but also isn't very good. Peralta will be 29 next year and the Tigers certainly will decline his $7.5 million option. From 2005-08 he scored 357 runs and drove in 307 runs with 81 home runs. With the worst case scenario still better than Cedeno, it might be worth a shot to see if he can recapture that form.

Nick Punto is hitting .253/.327/.318 which is a little better than Cedeno's numbers. It's also not good enough to start. The Twins won't pick up his $5 million option but I still think he'll come back to Minnesota.

Edgar Renteria has well underperformed his contract with San Francisco but actually if he can put up this year's .342 OBP again would be one of the better options on this list. I wouldn't be surprised if he has to settle for something in the $2 million range for his age 34 season.

Jose Reyes has an $11 million team option which might not be picked up. He is only hitting .292/.329/.432 which is really not well enough to be worth that kind of money. Some systems also rate his defense as below average. Reyes, however, is so overrated that his cost would certainly be prohbitively expensive.

Miguel Tejada was moved to third base for a reason and also can't hit anymore. He's actually had a decent run back at shortstop in San Diego but it would be absurd to sign a rapidly declining 38 year old to be the starting shortstop.

Juan Uribe is hitting .248/.309/.422 and is the best choice on this list. He is making $3.25 million this year and should sign for about the same. Uribe has consistent 20 home run power and plays solid defense. He doesn't walk enough but still gets on base more than Cedeno. At age 31 he should have plenty left.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to see Uribe too. ABC (Anybody But Cedeno)