I will happily concede a few points before I get into this:
- The Pirates are trying to spend money this offseason because of their extremely low payroll.
- The Pirates are trying to do so in a fashion that does not block any of their young MLB players or soon-to-be-ready prospects.
- Ronny Cedeno is not very good and having someone else start at shortstop would probably be a good thing.
- Bobby Crosby is a free agent shortstop on whom money could be spent without blocking anyone (unless he’s signed to a multi-year deal, which would be insane on a Littlefieldian scale) and by doing so the Pirates could limit Cedeno’s playing time.
All four of those things are nice and since beggar’s can’t be choosers, maybe I should just accept that Huntington will push hard for Crosby and that he even might sign him and simply stop worrying about it because it’s much better (or more accurately, much less damaging) than the infamous Burnitz/Randa signings during the winter of 2006.
All of that being said, I can’t help myself and I have to point out that Bobby Crosby is really just not a whole lot better than Ronny Cedeno. It’s true that his glove at shortstop is probably better than Cedeno. If you’re using UZR, Crosby’s career UZR/150 at short is 4.1, Cedeno’s is -5.6. That’s worth about a win over the course of the season. At the plate, Crosby’s better over his career, but his best OPS since 2006 is .645. That’s better than Cedeno’s combined .593 this year, but their 2010 Bill James projections of .243/.299/.354 (Cedeno) and .240/.311/.377 aren’t terribly different.
The problem is that Crosby is almost incapable of staying healthy. He’s had seven DL stints since 2005 (at least one in each year) and spent a total of 233 days on the shelf. He’s going to spend time on the disabled list if we sign him. That shrinks the difference between the two players, and if a Crosby injury necessitates playing time for Brian Bixler or Argenis Diaz for whatever reason, well, **shudder**.
It’s not that Crosby would be a bad signing (and hey, if they convince him to wear #87 they’d drive jersey sales WAY up), it’s just that I’m not sure he’d make things all that different.