Dejan Kovacevic wonders why shortstop wasn't considered a positional hole this offseason the way that second base was:
Really, why would shortstop not be considered a hole?
Management thought little enough of Ronny Cedeno that it added Bobby Crosby with the stated aim of pushing Cedeno for starting duty. That is a 239 hitter being pushed by a .238 hitter, hardly a hole-free scenario. And, if there is a shortstop on the horizon in the system, he cannot be seen without a telescope, so blocking hardly is a factor.
Still, barely any investment was made here: Cedeno will make $1.125 million, Crosby $1 million, making for a combined figure in the range of what Ryan Church or a couple of the relievers got. This for an important everyday position, surely more important than second base, where $4.85 million was added with the trade for Akinori Iwamura.
I see what he's saying, but I really think it's apples and oranges. Second base was a huge hole. The incumbent starter was Delwyn Young, who has the bat for the position but who, defensively, has all the grace of an emu on ice skates. Then there was Ramon Vazquez and Brian Bixler--enough said. After that the most obvious options were Brian Friday (who has yet to play above Class AA), Jim Negrych (who might be just as bad defensively as Young) and Shelby Ford (who was coming off a thoroughly miserable minor league season). And... that's it. Second base wasn't just a hole, it was a canyon.
Ronny Cedeno isn't a great starting shortstop, but he is, at least, a credible one. A backup on a playoff team, possibly, and certainly a second division starter at best, but if you need a shortstop, he gets the job done. There wasn't anyone like that at second. I'm no fan of Bobby Crosby, but I agree with the outline of management's plan for the middle infield: they needed a real, starting second baseman, but they merely needed depth at shortstop, and so they spent relatively heavily on the former and lightly on the latter. I'm sure the Pirates could have replaced Cedeno and nobody would have felt too bad about it, but it's worth pointing out that Cedeno played pretty well down the stretch last year, showed flashes of promise in the Cubs system, and doesn't turn 27 until next week. There's a bit of upside there, and I'm fine with the Pirates just pursuing that rather than hunting around for a veteran shortstop who might not have been as good as Cedeno anyway.