Filed:November 7th, 2008
Ronny Cedeno and Neal Cotts to Baltimore for George Sherrill
I can't stand a lunkhead.
During the course of the baseball season, I inevitably end up in at least two conversations a week about whether Cedeno is a good shortstop. Amateur sabermetricians and more defense-oriented fans love him, and can't figure out why he doesn't play more. Maybe you've seen him on TV, and wondered the same thing. But if you're watching 20-40 games a season at Wrigley like I do, we're generally in agreement on why that is; he's a lunkhead.
Whether it's his being prone to defensive guffaws at the worst possible moments, a total inability to effectively run the base paths, no comprehension of situational hitting, or slugger-like swing, he will do something in almost every game in which he appears that will leave you wondering why is he on a major league ballclub at all. Manager Lou Piniella gets it, even going so far as to make Mike Fontenot his primary infield backup, regardless of Cedeno's defensive talents.
Here's the good news though. There are 30 general managers in baseball. Numerous assistant GMs, player personnel directors, cross checkers, managers, hitting coaches, and infield instructors. In all, probably a few hundred guys -- and women -- in a position of influence around baseball. All it takes is a couple to think "we can fix this guy", and a player like Cedeno is in play.
The likeliest place for this to happen is Baltimore, where the shortstop solutions are possibly even worse than their starting pitching. No team in baseball is in more need of a upgrade at the position than the Orioles, who fielded the likes of Brandon Fahey, Freddie Bynum, and Alex Cintron there in 2008, with the expected terrible results. For the Orioles, Cedeno represents a real and tangible upgrade right now, with meaningful upside, as they are a place that can afford to give him a season-long assessment.
Now, I suppose that they could try and convince a bigger talent to sign with them via free agency, but in reality, they need to spend that money on infrastructure, and pitching. Lots and lots of pitching. And really, as they appear to be putting together a major Teixeira offer, and Brian Roberts extension, the cash is effectively spent. There's just no point in overpaying for Hudson or Furcal to join the club, which is what would likely need to happen to get a free agent to join a rebuilding team.
In return, the Cubs collective an effective -- albeit over and mis-used -- middle reliever. George Sherrill came over from the Mariners as part of that big Erik Bedard trade, and was thrust into the closer's role following injuries to Danys Baez and Chris Ray. He did a fantastic job overall, collecting 31 saves in 2008, and making the All-Star game. The reality though is that he's a closer in name and situation only, and as the season wore on, this reality eventually set in. Sherrill would finish the season with a 4.73 ERA, and 1.50 WHIP. It is the AL East, after all. However, he has always been able to get left-handed hitters out, and has blossomed into a legitimate set-up man, capable of retiring righties as well. Bottom line is that George is not a closer, and would be much more productive in his usual setup role. With a gaping hole left by the booting departure of Scott Eyre, and a very affordable price tag, I think Sherrill would be a welcome addition to the Cubs.
A full-time position player for a middle reliever? What do you think?