St. Louis Cardinals Add Solid Pinch-Hitting Bench Piece With Ronny Cedeno

By Thom Tsang
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After what was apparently a weekend courtship, the St. Louis Cardinals have found their reserve middle infielder in Ronny Cedeno.

The team’s one-year major league contract with with eight-year vet means that they not have go to with in-house replacement Pete Kozma, who has all of 42 games of major league experience in his young career, if/when shortstop Rafael Furcal goes down with an injury sometime in 2013.

While Kozma may prove to be a pretty good player yet, Cedeno gives the redbirds a utility man who played every infield position except first base last season, and someone who can come off the bench to pinch-hit for someone like Daniel Descalso and stay in the game afterwards.

Although you might not think of Cedeno and his career .647 OPS as much of an offensive force, he is actually a bit of a different animal at the plate when not asked to start. In 79 at-bats as a pinch hitter throughout his career, Cedeno has an impressive .266/.356/.456 triple-slash; though a number of leg issues hindered his ability to take the field last season, New York Mets fans knew him as something of a minor pinch-hitting hero, as Cedeno put up a otherworldly 1.041 OPS over 20 at-bats.

That’s not the type of number you’d normally associate with Cedeno, but is one that the Cardinals will be happy to have on the bench, considering that Rafael Furcal will probably need his fair share of relief from his elbow issues, and that Descalso has a .654 career OPS.

As far as bench moves go, it’s a pretty good one.

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