Tag Archive | "Fuel To The Fire"

Ronny Cedeno provides depth for St. Louis Cardinals, but little else

In an offseason of sparse, small moves, the St. Louis Cardinals made another signing Monday that will minimally impact their season, and hopefully it won’t be a factor at all.

RonnyCedeno

The Cardinals signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a one-year contract to be a back-up option in case starting shortstop Rafael Furcal’s right elbow has problems again in the upcoming season.

The 30-year-old Cedeno is an eight-year veteran with a career .247 batting average while playing for four different teams: the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. At best, he’s been an inconsequential player on irrelevant teams.

The Cardinals aren’t an irrelevant team, and something will have to go terribly wrong if Cedeno sees much playing time. The team has Furcal penciled in to be the everyday shortstop, and  Pete Kozma would seem to be a fairly solid back-up option given his .333 batting average in 26 games at the end of last season.

In many ways, the Cardinals had no need for Cedeno unless they think Kozma can’t hit above .250 and play decent defense. Both Kozma and Cedeno are righthanded hitters without much power, so the Cardinals certainly didn’t improve the back-up shortstop situation by this move.

Maybe the Cardinals think Kozma needs to be pushed during spring training or during the season if he has to regularly play shortstop with Furcal out because of injury. But still, the team has Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter as other middle infielders who could supposedly move over to shortstop if Furcal gets hurt and Kozma plays terribly.

General manager John Mozeliak said the team needed “insurance” at the position. Well, as some television commercials suggest, this is a cut-rate insurance policy and not the Allstate value plan. Cedeno should have to play above his career average in spring training just to break camp with the club.

This move also adds fuel to the fire of people who are already frustrated the Cardinals haven’t improved enough during the offseason, while the Cincinnati Reds traded for Shin-Soo Choo, the Atlanta Braves added the Upton brothers and the Philadelphia Phillies added the steady and productive Michael Young, formerly of the Texas Rangers.

Many of the top teams in the National League made significant moves to improve during the offseason, and the Cardinals basically stood pat. OK, they signed bench players Ty Wigginton and Cedeno. Sorry, but those two won’t even make opponents’ scouting reports.

Overall, the Cardinals are going to need their core players to stay healthy and be consistently productive throughout the entire year because the rest of the league has improved. If the Cardinals fall behind six to 10 games in the division or wild-card race, the teams above them might be too good to allow for another miracle comeback.

Right now the Reds, Braves, Phillies, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are all built to be strong playoff contenders. Even with the expanded playoffs, only five National League teams will make the postseason, so a playoff berth is far from guaranteed for the Cardinals this season.

That competition should make for a fun season, so long as the Cardinals don’t have to file a claim on the Ronny Cedeno insurance policy.

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Holliday Poised For A Break-Out Season With Cardinals

There’s no question that Tony La Russa is the single most divisive figure in the Cardinals franchise. Matt Holliday might be second.

Much of the fan base was upset with the trade that brought Holliday to St. Louis in the first place. Brett Wallace was a fast-rising prospect in the organization, and for everything he seemingly could not do in the field, he made up for with his bat. The kid could straight mash with the best of them.

The anti-Holliday movement regained momentum in the 2009 NLDS. He batted .167 in the series and dropped what would’ve been the final out of game 2, ultimately costing the Cardinals the game and their run at a 3rd trip to the World Series in 6 years.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Holliday tested the free agent market for a good 2 months after the season, making comments that would lead you to believe he wanted anything but to return to the Cardinals. He then eventually signed to the richest deal in Cardinals franchise history.

And then, he got off to a terribly slow start in 2010, and his inability to get clutch hits began to remind fans of Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs pre-2007.

But Holliday rebounded, eventually evening out to his normal self in the 2nd half of the 2010 season. It was evident that the pressure of the huge deal and all the expectations had gotten to him. He only hit .250 with the bases loaded, and just .271 with runners in scoring position. And despite all of that, he still managed to hit for .312, 28 HRs, and 103 RBIs for the season. Insane.

Just imagine what Cardinal fans could be in store for this season: Holliday with all the pressure off in year two of his contract could easily hit over 30 HRs and 120 RBIs with a decent start in the first couple months of the season. And with Pujols and Berkman playing for contracts batting 3rd and 5th in the lineup, the Cardinals could have one of the most lethal 3-5 combinations in baseball. Bookend those hitters with Colby Rasmus and David Freese, and you’ve got potentially the best Cardinals lineup since the 2004 squad. Only time will tell, and for the first time in a while, it feels like time is finally on our side: 6 days until the spring opener, 37 until opening day.

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