No, this is not about Ryan Church......yet.
I think it was pretty easy for all to see that Aki Iwamura wasn't the guy the Pirates thought they were getting. After a first week in which he showed some good plate discipline, something rarely seen at the top of the Pirates' order in recent years, things went downhill and they went downhill fast. Personally, I think the Pirates waited almost exactly the right amount of time before the DFA'd Aki-san. The Pirates were 40% of the way through their season and it was clear, at age 31, that Aki wasn't going to be re-signed. They gave him a chance to play his way out of his slump, but it wasn't happening and he didn't seem to be adding anything in the clubhouse. Time to take your medicine. While people can criticize the trade, at least the team could recognize the mistake and move on.
Now it's time to think about the next moves. Here is Aki's line at the time he was DFA'd compared to Ronny Cedeno's today.
PA AB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ BB K
Iwamura 193 165 .182 .292 .267 .558 54 26 31
Cedeno 239 223 .220 .258 .309 .568 54 10 55
You can guess where this is headed. The Pirates aren't in a position to necessarily DFA Ronny Cedeno at this point because they really lack middle infield depth at the moment, but I don't think it should be ruled out. I had pretty high hopes for Ronny after he posted a .701 with 5 HRs in 155 ABs during his time with the Bucs last season. But, I have completely lost all hope that he develops into anything more than he is now. He is 27. His career OPS is .618, OPS+ is 60. He has ZERO plate discipline. Cedeno is adequate with the glove. He has a 0.0 WAR this year because his fielding has been above average but his career UZR/150 is slightly negative.
Cedeno is only making $1.125 this year and is under control for one more year so he is by no way unaffordable. Instead he has become unplayable. Yesterday basically sealed the deal for me. Fifth inning, zero-zero game and Ronny comes up with runners on first and second. Cedeno bunted the first pitch fastball foul. He took the second pitch for a ball and then bunted another fastball foul. Tom Gorzelanny then threw a slider in the dirt and Cedeno didn't have a chance. He checked his swing but the first base umpire rang him up. Thanks for coming.
I have not been able to find anything in the game story yet, but from this at bat one or two things are obvious. 1.) If Cedeno was told to bunt by the coaching staff they clearly think pitcher Brad Lincoln, who was on-deck, is as good or better hitter than Cedeno. I'm not sure I can ever remember seeing the number eight hitter bunting runners over with no outs. 2.) If Cedeno was bunting on his own, he has no idea of the game situation or has completely lost all confidence in his ability at the plate. Neither of these is a good thing, obviously. And to emphasize the point, he didn't get the job done. (Lincoln followed up with a perfectly executed sac bunt, btw, but the Bucs didn't score as Tabata walked and LaRoche grounded sharply into a force play to end the inning.)
To their credit again the Pirates had already made the move to reduce Cedeno's playing time and were playing Bobby Crosby at short. But, Neil Walker got banged up and Crosby had to move to second (Again, Andy LaRoche not being prepared to play second base rears its ugly head.), and now Crosby is banged up and Walker isn't back.
The point is Cedeno is done as a Pirate. I'm happy to have Bobby Crosby be the everyday starting shortstop beginning tonight and I'd even consider bringing up Argenis Diaz to be his back up and give him 20-30 starts even though he isn't hitting at all down in Indy. Now I realize this isn't at all likely to happen, but I think, like Aki, it is time to move past Ronny. The alternatives other than Crosby aren't apparent, but JR likes Crosby at short while Walker and Alvarez learn on the job. So do I.
Not to make this a throwaway paragraph in the post, but while we are making moves to make the team better, it's time to call up Steve Pearce. I'm sure Ryan Church is a good guy and all, but we are half way into the season and his produciton has been terrible. The team isn't going to get anything in a trade. Church's OPS is .509, OPS+ is 38. In 146 PAs he has 7 BBs and 33 Ks. I don't think you need to say much more than that. He's making $1.5 mm on a one year deal. Time to move on from Ryan as well. Get Steve Pearce back to Pittsburgh.