Cedeno is Starting to Struggle Again

Last month I wrote about how all of the shortstops at the top levels were having success in the month of May.  Ronny Cedeno ended up with a .286/.368/.405 line, which combined with his great defensive play has given him some value as a starting shortstop.  Chase d’Arnaud hit for a .329/.357/.456 line in AAA.  Jordy Mercer hit for a .318/.372/.486 line in AA.  I talked about how both shortstop prospects were blocked from moving up a level because of Cedeno’s strong play.  I also wrote this about Cedeno:

Just like d’Arnaud and Mercer, 56 at-bats is not nearly enough to suggest Cedeno’s current run is legit.  We’ve actually seen this out of Cedeno before.  He struggles, the Pirates bench him for a lack of consistent play, and he comes back strong.  The problem is that, in the past, the hot streaks haven’t lasted.

Cedeno was benched twice in a three game span in late-April/early-May last year, and returned to hit for a .329/.386/.468 line in his next 79 at-bats.  However, the hot streak didn’t last, as Cedeno went on a big slump that lasted for most of the month of June, which saw him go 7-for-65 at the plate, with no extra base hits, and one walk.

That led to a three game benching at the start of July.  Cedeno returned and hit for a .396/.439/.660 line in his next 53 at-bats, with 11 of his 21 hits going for extra bases.  Again, the hot streak was short lived.  Cedeno went on to hit for a .188/.250/.292 line in his next 48 at-bats.

He missed eight games with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup, which was hardly a benching.  From that point forward he was decent, with a .284/.306/.418 line in 141 at-bats, although those numbers are not what you dream about from your starting shortstop, especially since his defense totally fell off at the end of the season.

Because of his past, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cedeno goes on another cold streak.  He’s playing well right now, but we’ve seen this out of him before.  He’s also strong defensively this year, with a very impressive 18.7 UZR/150.  We’ve also seen that.  There were times last year where Cedeno was one of the highest rated shortstops in the league, according to UZR.  His inconsistent play eventually led to a -4.0 UZR/150.

The Pirates should definitely ride Cedeno’s hot streak for as long as they can.  Best case scenario, maybe something finally clicked with him and he’ll be able to put it all together.  The more likely scenario is that Cedeno will once again go on a cold streak, which will eventually lead to him being benched.  If Chase d’Arnaud is still performing well in Indianapolis when that happens, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the switch, bringing d’Arnaud up to the majors, putting Jordy Mercer in AAA, and moving Cedeno to the bench, where he might be able to provide some value to the Pirates.

Cedeno is struggling again.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, Cedeno started to struggle again.  In fact, from the time of that writing, Cedeno finished off the month hitting for a .235/.297/.353 line in 34 at-bats.  So far in June he has a .143/.182/.214 line in 42 at-bats.  His hot streak at the plate has been surrounded by horrible cold streaks.  He still has a strong 7.9 UZR/150, although even that is down from the level it was at almost a month ago.  I don’t put much stock in short term UZR swings, and usually I want multiple years of data to make a conclusion.  However, last year we saw Cedeno range from one of the best defensive shortstops, according to UZR, all the way to his -4.0 UZR/150, which is in line with his career -3.0 UZR/150.

Cedeno is struggling again, and that’s been seen on both sides of the ball.  That’s not to say he’s playing poorly in every game.  He had a nice diving catch last night to end the game, for example.  However, he’s not playing well enough to hold back prospects in the lower levels.

Chase d’Arnaud is hitting for a .289/.360/.444 line in the month of June, and that includes an 0-for-15 performance in his recent four game series with Gwinnett.  Jordy Mercer is also playing strong baseball, with a .311/.373/.644 line in June, and already has four homers in 45 at-bats, giving him 11 in 230 at-bats on the season.

We might see d’Arnaud in the majors soon.  Josh Harrison is currently hurt, and will be evaluated today to see if he can swing a bat.  David Todd of Extra Innings asked Clint Hurdle whether Chase d’Arnaud would be a replacement option, and Hurdle confirmed that the Pirates had talked about d’Arnaud.  Chase has been playing third base the last two games, giving him 33 games this year at shortstop, 20 at second base, and two at third base.  He’s played seven games at third during his minor league career, although he played the position in college.

If d’Arnaud comes up, it would give the Pirates a good look at him in the majors, with a chance to evaluate whether he’s ready to take over for Ronny Cedeno.  The Pirates have Pedro Ciriaco on the bench right now, which you might have forgotten, since Ciriaco only has three at-bats this year.  Even if Harrison doesn’t end up on the disabled list, the Pirates could bring d’Arnaud up to take Ciriaco’s wasted roster spot, and give Chase some playing time at shortstop.  Maybe that even lights a fire under Cedeno again, although at this point I think it’s pretty well established that the fire will inevitably go out.  Because of this, it’s time for the Pirates to start seeing what they have with d’Arnaud, rather than riding the Ronny Cedeno roller coaster and hoping that there are more ups than downs.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    This is why I always laugh when Hurdle talks about “fixing” Cedeno. This is what he is – an inconsistent hitter and defender. And the thing is, he’s better than what a number of teams have at SS.

    I would like to see them call up D’Arnaud and play matchups with Cedeno an D’Arnaud. I realize this isn’t a “platoon” per se (they are both righties), but I’d like Cedeno to have to compete for playing time. Hurdle has shown that he’s pretty adept at finding out what matchups/situations are best for certain players.

    The biggest thing here is that fans (and coaches and management) recognize that Cedeno has already shown us what he is. There’s no secret here. There’s nothing to fix. The question is: Do we put up with the valleys? Are the peaks good enough?

  • Anonymous

    Even though Ronny seems to be a nice guy he has had his chance to show he can get it done (to bad he hasn’t).  Lets bring up Chase and see if he is going to be the fit in the puzzle the team has been looking for.  If not then they need to move onto plan C.

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t Ronny be a super utility player?? Like it was talked about this off-season if they would have a acquired Hardy or someone else? He can be a good defensive replacement. And spell guys all around the diamond and even maybe one of the corner outfield spots, like he played in winter ball. Hes a nice piece to have on the bench.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I agree with this approach.  I think Cedeno would be fine as a utility player, as his defensive skills make him a strong backup at every infield position.  I think it’s obvious that he’s not an everyday player, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a productive bench option.

  • Anonymous

    First of all on Cedeno, he will always give you 1.5 months of hitting every year. But, Ronny is playing great SS and is one of the reason for the great pitching. However I support bring up D’Arnaud to get his feet wet. Let him play one game at SS per week, one game at 3rd, and spell Walker once every two weeks for a game. Use him as a PH and PR in other games. There is not only a short term, but long term benefit. Then advance Mercer up to Indy.

  • Anonymous

    I am ready for Chase even if he doesn’t take the field. Acquiring Brandon Wood made Ronny play better for awhile because of the threat to his job security.

    He needs the constant pushing, and the only way to ensure it is to have someone that can take his job away.

  • http://twitter.com/JamesSantelli James Santelli

    I am very interested in seeing how d’Arnaud would perform at the Major League level, and would like him to be the regular starter at SS in Pittsburgh. I think Cedeno’s speed could lend well to a super-utility role, and he could still start at short with ground-ball heavy Morton on the mound.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3CTA5BBXC3SRUUHG5JR5OWOUEI David

    Could it be a durability issue more than needing a push?  Why not “bench him” for 3-4 games every 30 games if that is what appears to get him going.

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