Ronny Cedeno or Clint Barmes?

So the Pirates are nearing a two-year $11MM deal with Clint Barmes. That basically pays him to be a league-average shortstop over the next two years, which isn’t so bad. As @JunkStats points out, Barmes has averaged roughly 2 WAR/season since 2008, and it’s not like he’s that¬†old. He’s 32. Had the Giants signed him for this amount, I think I would have been content. Especially considering that a) the John McDonalds and Willie Bloomquists of the world have gotten pretty friendly deals this offseason, and b) the Giants paid Miguel Tejada $6.5MM last offseason.

The Barmes deal has sparked an interesting debate: Ronny Cedeno v. Clint Barmes. Cedeno had a $3MM club option for 2012, but the Pirates chose not to pick it up — and to instead pay the $200K buyout. This is after Cedeno produced roughly 1.5 WAR this season (regardless of your metric of choice). That’s nearly¬†league-average production, and worth about $6-7MM on the open market. In fact, there are those that believe that Cedeno (contract aside) is a better shortstop than Barmes.

Now I’m not one of those people. Cedeno’s a career .246/.286/.353 (63 wRC+) hitter, whereas Barmes is a career .252/.302/.401 (74 wRC+) hitter. Bill James projects the two for nearly a twenty-point difference in weighted on-base average. The defense is a little harder to measure, given how unreliable defensive metrics tend to be, but I’m inclined to believe that Barmes is also the better defender of the two. Go ahead and peruse their defensive ratings if you’d like (Barmes, Cedeno).

In any event, Cedeno’s not a worthless shortstop. He can’t hit, but for an above-average defensive shortstop, he’s not that bad. The Pirates very well may have set the market for Cedeno by declining his option, and if he’s getting a one-year $2MM deal this offseason…that’s pretty enticing. It kills me to say this — it honestly does. This is a guy that has batted ninth (behind the pitcher) many times in his career.

Yet at the same time, the Giants, as a team, didn’t hit much better than Cedeno in 2011. They’re out on Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, and there are very few acceptable options left. They’re not going to spend big on shortstop, so their best route is to buy low. In this case, Cedeno appears to be a solid stopgap. He’s slightly better than Brandon Crawford, but more importantly, he’d allow Crawford to develop his hitting in Triple-A this season.

Yes, I’m seriously advocating for the Giants to sign Ronny Cedeno.

2011 Season in Review: Miguel Tejada

Miguel Tejada is one of the greatest shortstops of all time — top 50 easily, and arguably top 25. Simply going by WAR (Baseball-Reference’s implementation), he’s 23rd all time. That’s not too shabby — higher than Omar Vizquel even. I wouldn’t say he’s Hall-of-Fame material, but he’s certainly Hall of Very Good material.

Anyway, 37+ year old shortstops are rare, and good ones are even harder to come by. The departures of Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria left the Giants with a void at shortstop last offseason; they didn’t have many options — particularly on the free agent market — so they chose to sign Miguel Tejada. This was — without doubt — their greatest mistake of the offseason, as Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy were both available on the trade market at the time (Hardy would soon be traded to the Baltimore Orioles for next to nothing). Additionally, the contract — $6.5MM over one year — seemed a bit lucrative for a shortstop of his age, coming off a season in which he’d posted an OPS just under .700; it was a classic case of Brian Sabean outbidding himself. In any event, the Giants went with Tejada, and sad as it sounds in retrospect, he was their biggest new addition (with Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell returning after re-signing with the Giants).

Tejada, of course, fell off a cliff with the bat, proving futile at the plate in 343 plate appearances. He was aggressive — only drawing 12 walks on the season — and his power all but disappeared, as he slugged just .326 (the lowest mark of his career, by far). His defense at short, as expected, left a lot to be desired. After averaging 158 games per season from 1999-2010 — proving to be incredibly durable, Tejada missed 25 games in the late summer due to an abdominal strain.

In late August, Tejada was the subject of much scrutiny (kudos to Bay Area Sports guy for calling Tejada out), after refusing to run hard on a bunt. Soon after, Tejada was designated for assignment along with Aaron Rowand.

Fangraphs has Tejada’s season valued at exactly 0.0 wins above replacement, which is just perfect in so many ways. What a forgettable season he had. Quite a sad ending to a fine career, though.