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.

Jon Heyman: Giants eyeing shortstops, first basemen, outfielders

According to Jon Heyman, there’s no belief that San Francisco will pursue Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins. They are, however, focused on the market for shortstop, first base, and outfield:

No belief #sfgiants will make play for reyes or rollins. They are eyeing ss as well as 1b and OF. but pitching still the focus

We’ve heard this again and again: the Giants, due to budgetary constraints, are not in on Reyes or Rollins. They’ve really embraced the pitching-first philosophy (although it’s almost like a pitching-first and pitching-second and pitching-third philosophy).

Anyway, they seem focused on finding a backup option for Brandon Crawford, and Clint Barmes seems like the obvious target (at the right price, that’s not such a bad thing). The market for middle infielders is shaping up to be pretty ugly though; bad ones, the likes of Willie Bloomquist, are making more money than they should. Hopefully the Giants don’t fall down this trap.

It’s a little odd that they’re looking at first basemen — as they have both Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff – but they could definitely stand to add an outfielder. I’m guessing they’ll re-sign Cody Ross, who would like to return in 2012. He’ll be cheap, and seems like a good fit (if he can still play a serviceable centerfield).

Splash Hits: 11/11/11 Edition

For your Friday night reading pleasure, links…

Top 15 Prospects: San Francisco Giants | FanGraphs Baseball
Fangraphs’ Giants prospect rankings.

Alex Rodriguez, other talents didn’t boost legacies with PEDs – SI.com – Fantasy
“Few, if any, steroid users who would garner enough votes to get in would have failed to do so had they never used PEDs.”

A Thank You to Pat Burrell – McCovey Chronicles
Pat Burrell is probably going to retire from the San Francisco Giants. Here’s a note of thanks.

MLB Free Agency: Willie Bloomquist Signs Meaningful Two-Year Deal – Baseball Nation
You asked for wall-to-wall Willie Bloomquist, and now you have it. Here’s what his two-year deal means.

Do you need a great closer to win it all? – SweetSpot Blog – ESPN
Are closers really worth big contracts?

A post in which I make a meat analogy « Bay City Ball – A Giants Blog
Should the Giants sign Clint Barmes?

Lefty Malo – Buster, Freddy, And The Noble Quest For League Average Offense
Buster, Freddy, And The Noble Quest For League Average Offense

Angel Pagan And Andres Torres: Undervalued Then And Now – Baseball Nation
Andres Torres and Angel Pagan were both undervalued commodities who turned into highly valued assets. Looks like they’re right back where they started.

Will Melky Bring His Bat to San Francisco? – Baseball Analytics Blog – MLB Baseball Analytics
Cabrera needs to outperform his projections by proving that he can maintain his increased power/contact.

The Giants offered more for Willie Bloomquist than Arizona

Per Nick Piecoro:

Sources say utility man Willie Bloomquist had a two-year offer from the Giants worth more than the $3.8M he took to stay in Arizona.

Absolutely ridiculous. This is a guy that’s been worth $4MM over his entire ten-year career, according to Fangraphs’ estimates. What were they thinking?!

Update: $4.6 million over two years. That was the Giants’ offer.

Willie Bloomquist has an offer from the Giants

Via Jon Heyman:

Willie Bloomquist has offers from #dbacks, #sfgiants. ties to AZ may give dbacks edge

Bloomquist, 33, is a career .264/.317/.337 hitter, and beyond the ability to play nearly ever position, he has little to offer. Even though he is pretty versatile — a classic utility player — he’s not much of a defensive asset anywhere. He’s racked up a grand total of 1.6 rWAR (and 1.3 fWAR) in his career.

It also appears that the Giants will in fact go with Brandon Crawford as the starting shortstop, and simply shop for a backup this offseason. That would make a lot of sense for the team, particularly if they can find a bat that complements Crawford. I think they should consider Clint Barmes: he can hit lefties (career .793 OPS v. LHPs), and he’s a solid defensive shortstop. If he can be had at a relatively cheap price, he’s definitely worth pursuing.That’d certainly be a better solution than overpaying Jimmy Rollins with a five-year deal.

Update: Bloomquist has signed with the DBacks. On a two-year deal! You can’t make this stuff up.