March 4, 2011

2011 Position Preview: Shortstop

Some idiot* decided in 2006 that Ronny Cedeno was a Starting Shortstop, and I guess there's no way to shed that label. He's your starter once again in 2011. Cedeno will lose playing time at some point due to some combination of being a poor contact hitter, being a poor power hitter, having poor plate discipline, and fielding poorly. Nonetheless, he'll still start somewhere around the 132 games he started in 2010.

*This is a literary technique. I act like based on the decision this was an non-specific idiot. Wrong. It's a specific idiot and it's Dusty Baker.

The best source for Ronny Cedeno jokes is @cryingbaseball's excellent Twitter feed. The second best source is watching Ronny Cedeno play.

2008: 99 games, .269/.328/.352, 36 Runs, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB
2009: 105 games, .208/.256/.337, 32 Runs, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 5 SB
2010: 139 games, .256/.293/.382, 42 Runs, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 12 SB

Interestingly enough, 2010 was Cedeno's best year yet. There's nothing more to say about him. He's 28 so he'll probably perform at the same level again. So my prediction is .256/.293/.382, 42 runs, 8 homers, 38 RBI and 12 steals.

Backup: Josh Rodriguez
I guess every Rodriguez gets a "Rod" nickname now, so I can report that "J-Rod" is certainly making this team. The Pirates didn't waste their first pick in the Rule V draft on him for no reason, and they have to offer him back to Cleveland if he doesn't make the team.

Rodriguez is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop, and has never played in the major leagues. However, he had a great season at the plate in the minors last year hitting .317/.405/.476 at Akron and then .293/.372/.486 at Columbus. Those are better 2010 minor league numbers than say, Brandon Moss, who hit well enough that everyone was clamoring for him to play in Pittsburgh in a corner outfield spot.

Rodriguez will be 26 this year, has had success hitting in the minors, and is a solid fielder at all three infield positions. The bar to be an MLB backup middle infielder is not high, and he clears it easily. He also could see action as a pinch runner for Chris Snyder. I expect him to get around 150 at bats and hit a respectable .250/.320/.370, a.k.a. better than Ronny Cedeno, with 15 runs and RBI, three home runs and five or six steals.

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