With the decisions on their options due today, the Pirates did the expected and declined Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, and Chris Snyder's options, but they also came out of left field and declined Ronny Cedeno's option, as well.
As previously discussed, Cedeno's not a super-star, but he played solid defense at shortstop last year and that makes him a valuable player, especially in a market thin on shortstops. There just aren't a whole lot of obvious options, internal or otherwise, for the Pirates without Cedeno on the roster. Jordy Mercer or Chase d'Arnaud might turn into decent Major League players, but that's far from obvious at this point and Cedeno at $3 million provided a reasonable insurance policy in the likely event that neither of those two are ready to play every day.
Honestly, I don't know what the Pirates' plan is this winter. If this whole thing plays out with Yunieksy Betancourt playing shortstop for the Pirates in 2012 ...
I don't even want to think about that.
I believe Neal has a big move planned. Either a crazy FA signing (I'm thinking someone like ARam with Pedro moving across the field) or (more likely) a trade. I saw on traderumors that Yankees beat writer Joel Sherman has heard rumblings about the Pirates sniffing around for catching prospect Austin Romine. I think Neal is going to pull some sort of big multi-player trade or a couple smaller ones (probably involving Hanrahan, one of our young OF prospects and/or one of our pitching prospects) that fills a couple of these gaps with the rest coming on dumpster diving FAs (I think they'll go after DLee pretty hard for instance).
At least, I keep telling myself there is a method to his madness. I really really don't want to think he's gutting a 90 loss team and just punting on 2012 on the hope everything will break exactly right for a run in 2013.
This just frees up money for Jon Rauch, Grady Sizemore, Kelly Shoppach, Yuniesky Betancourt, Aaron Hill and Dan Wheeler. Then they can go after some more familiar guys like Nate McLouth, Lyle Overbay, Xavier Nady and Zach Duke! Wow! What's crazy it that some of these guys MAY ACTUALLY END UP HERE!
So far the Pirates' plan for 2012 seems to be:
1. blow gaping holes in the lineup at 1B, SS, C, and SP
Starting from a playoff team, that would suck... starting from a 90-loss team is even worse. I've supported NH's plan since the beginning, but this makes no fecking sense.
I'm not sure this is completely out of left field; I had seen outlets that speculated that this move with Ronny Legend was at least possible. I grant you this move is a bit odd, given the lack of internal options combined with the fact that the Pirates will, in terms of a head count at least, be carrying twenty-five men on the parent roster and it's not apparent who those twenty five will be. Likewise, a Yuniesky Betancourt sighting in the black-and-gold will lead me to stop watching games and spend my evenings replaying Strat-O-Matic seasons from the 60's. That said, while Cedeno was strong defensively last year, he hasn't been consistent in that respect (or any other) during his career, and (according to B-R) he is exactly a replacement level player for his career, and if you can't find a replacement-level shortstop somewhere, you're hurting. Cedeno's strongest asset is that he's the evil we know.
There is always the option to bring Cedeno back at a cheaper price. However, he makes a lot of sense as a cheaper option for better teams - Milwaukee, for example, or even St. Louis (if they like him, which I don't know). There are no worthwhile FA shortstops who will come to Pittsburgh, so yeah, a bit of a head scratcher. And it's not like the Pirates are guaranteed that a quality shortstop is out there in a trade-scenario.
@Carnegie Chip Instead of D-Lee, I'd like to see the Bucs trade for Lucas Duda; the Mets have Ike Davis coming back, so there's their first baseman, and Duda just isn't an outfielder--what he is, though, is a legit big league hitter who's a decade younger than D-Lee.
Ah yes, return of the prodigal son - exactly as he starts to slump and age poorly...check out his slow starts the past two seasons (though Ramirez did rebound well in a contract year, surprisingly). As far as sniffing around for a catching prospect - Romine has all of 15 ABs above AA (where he has posted a 728 OPS) and might not be ready, probably no more ready than Sanchez at this point. Plus, why should the Yankees trade Romine except for full value? Not likely.
A trade makes the most sense or has to make the most sense, although the declines shouldn't be a surprise in and of themselves - none of the players are worth exactly the value of the options. The odd part is the lack of a public back-up plan.
@Andy Coulter Well, Rauch would fill our need for a power forward.
@gonfalon You are 100% correct. Even in his interviews he says he has no plan other than "internal prospects." Oh, lets replace a .250 batter who is a gold glove nominee with a .219 batter (Chase) who had 9 errors in 48 games. Good thinking. This is the cheapest f'n team on earth. Why did I buy that 20 game pack before. Wonder if I can get a refund. And 7 Springs is a dump. So where is Nutting putting all his money.
I thought phase one was "steal underpants!" Ha!
@wkkortas Or the fact he is a lifetime nearly .250 hitter, we have no replacements who have proven that he can hit anywhere NEAR that, his defense keeps improving, to the point he was a gold glove nominee. When he's an all-star with another team this will be another cheap-dumbass move but Nutting. Thanks for Nutting Bob.
@wkkortas See as how the best the Pirates could do the past few years was Cedeno and his internal replacements don't project to be better, I'd say the Pirates haven't been able to locate a replacement-level shortstop. Therefore, they are hurting.
Wow, imagine that fat ass ranging around the infield...
If you meant for him to play 1b, why on earth would he for less than 25 mil a season (for anyone, but especially the Pirates). Given the Brewers dominance over the Pirates, I doubt he is as impressed with the Buccos as other players are (supposedly, allegedly).
No, there is no way on earth that Fielder signs with Pittsburgh, regardless of the offer.
@RyanC883 I suspect if you Google "Ronny Cedeno" and "all-star", this comment will be the sole result.
@schuleg I believe that should be "grazing" around the infield. Prince is a vegetarian, after all.