Well, that didn’t take very long. Before the 2013 season could even bother getting underway, the Cardinals have jettisoned shortstop Ronny Cedeno back to the scrap heap from whence he came, perhaps as a result of the realization that he isn’t very good. With Rafael Furcal on the shelf he’s come to know and love, Cedeno was all set to battle Pete Kozma for the shortstop job for a team that simply hasn’t had much luck at all at the position. That battle was more of an uneventful skirmish, though, and it looks like Kozma has come away the clear winner.
Obviously no scenario that ends with Pete Kozma as the victor (except for perhaps game five of last year’s NLDS match-up between the Cardinals and Nationals, of course) is an enviable one to have witnessed, but it still feels like a win. Cedeno had no place on the team; Kozma and Ryan Jackson are both younger and cheaper, and while the upside is certainly very limited, it’s not like they’re worse options than Cedeno. More tellingly, this move gives us a better idea of what to expect when the rest of the roster is finalized.
Cedeno’s release confirms Kozma at short, but that already seemed fairly inevitable. What it also may do, though, is signify Matt Adams Time, a time that could result in lengthy homers and plenty of contact. If the Cardinals aren’t keeping Cedeno around, that may very well open up a spot for the powerful Adams to get some at-bats at first as the rest of the team shifts around to accommodate injuries and days off. Carlos Beltran is already reporting some sort of seemingly minor injury, Allen Craig‘s health record always gets in the way of his whomping, and moths have already been sighted lurking in the depths of Busch Stadium’s left field region. Adams gives the Cardinals some valuable insurance simply by being able to step in at first base and let everyone else dance about the outfield in the event of a disaster/hiccup. He’s already shown he can do anything he wants at the Triple-A level, so why worry about him getting more exposure down there?
This is just one of those times when it feels exceedingly nice to be a fan of a team with tremendous depth. Rather than worry about the Cardinals adding another light-hitting middle infielder to the mix, we can (probably) take solace in the fact that Daniel Descalso can handle shortstop when necessary if Kozma can’t play or needs a day off. This would of course be in addition to Dirty Dan’s other duties as a possible starting second baseman, laser-armed manner of the hot corner, and occasional plugger of the right field gap. And when Descalso needs to slide across the bag to short, there’s always Matt Carpenter (our preferred starter at the keystone) to pick up the slack and get on base like nobody’s business.
If there’s anything not to like about the Cedeno axing (there isn’t), it’s that the Cardinals were however briefly mentioned in the same breath as the legendarily awful Yuniesky Betancourt. This is a guy who makes Ronny Cedeno look passable, and that’s saying something. Let us briefly take a look at Betancourt’s WAR totals over the past five seasons: 0.4, -2.1, 0.9, 0.4, and -0.8. That’s ineptitude of colossal proportions, and the idea of seeing both he and Ty Wigginton try defense on the left side in the same game gives me cause to contact a hospital immediately.
Still, a rumor doesn’t mean much of anything in most cases, and there doesn’t seem to be much truth to the one suggesting Betancourt has a future in St. Louis. The organization is as smart now as it’s ever been, and adding one of the worst players in the game would do very little to increase playoff odds in the coming season. I’m doing my best not to accidentally overreact and slip into panic mode because John Mozeliak has done nothing to make me feel like I need to since taking over. Despite nearly two decades of consistent winning baseball, I think my fandom is approaching a zen-like state for the very first time; that’s a testament to just how far the organization has come and how excited I get to be this season and for the next several.