Bad Free Agent Signings: Roger Cedeno

Roger Cedeno
New York Mets' Roger Cedeno grimmaces as St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Fernando Vina falls on him after turning a double play in the eighth inning, April 23, 2002. (AP Photo)

In 1999, New York Mets outfielder Roger Cedeno hit .313, with an on base percentage of .396, and a slugging percentage of .408. They would all turn out to be career bests.

Following the season, on December 11, the Mets traded Cedeno to the Houston Astros. After two seasons, the Mets reacquired him — as a free agent — with a 4-year, $18 million contract.

Cedeno was supposed to provide speed at the top of lineup and be a table-setter for big bats like Mike Piazza and Mo Vaughn, and play centerfield.

But soon as the 2002 season began, Cedeno was a target of the Shea Stadium boo-birds — failing in bunt situations, striking out in big situations, and with mental lapses on the field and on the base paths.

A corner outfielder his whole career, Cedeno misplayed balls in centerfield and reminded older Met fans of Marv Throneberry’s dismal play at first base back in 1962.

In November of 2002, Cedeno was arrested in Florida for driving under the influence of alcohol, and eventually pleaded no contest to a lesser charge.

Things grew worse on the field in 2003, as boos were heard every time Cedeno came to the plate or a ball came in his direction. In April, he was batting .177 and replaced briefly in the outfield by Japanese bust Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

Cedeno misplayed so many balls that veteran pitcher Tom Glavine demanded that Cedeno be benched when he pitched.

The Shea Stadium crowds chanted “Timo, Timo,” calling for Cedeno’s replacement to be OF Timo Perez. Indeed, his inconsistency landed him on the bench in favor of Perez. Cedeno stole only 39 bases and scored 135 runs in two seasons.

After giving up on Cedeno for a second time, the Mets couldn’t seem to find a new home for him, and he didn’t make it any easier on them when, for the second time in 13 months, he was arrested for a driving-related offense.

On Merengue Night in July of 2003 at Shea, the starting lineups were announced before the game in both English and Spanish. Cedeno received a smattering of boos in both languages.

Mets fans derisively chanted “MVP!” each time Cedeno batted.

Home plate umpire Greg Gibson ejected Cedeno after he struck out in the first inning of a game against the Marlins on September 8th, with boos ringing out in an empty Shea Stadium.

Cedeno finished the season the season batting .267 with only 14 stolen bases.

He was arrested on Dec. 4, 2003 in Broward County, Fla., and charged with “reckless driving.” He was clocked at 111 mph on Route 75, the stretch of highway known as Alligator Alley linking the east and west coasts of South Florida.

Cedeno’s agent, Peter Greenberg, said the latest incident was nothing more than a speeding ticket.

In spring training of 2004, Cedeno was booed constantly and even vilified when the Mets played at Tradition Field.

Mets General Manager Jim Duquette had spent the better part of the last six months trying to accommodate Cedeno’s trade request, but the $10 million he was owed over the next two years combined with his defensive liabilities made such a move seemingly impossible.

That was, until the Cardinals stepped in on April 3rd. St. Louis sent catcher Chris Widger and infielder Wilson Delgado to the Mets in exchange for Cedeno and cash.

New York picked up a considerable part of Cedeno’s salary after he, along with Mets ownership, agreed to restructure his contract.

The Mets were so desperate to dump Cedeno that they agreed to pay almost $9 million of the $10 million left on the four-year, $18 million deal he signed in 2001.

Cedeno played for two seasons and was released by the Cardinals following the 2005 season.

After a year off, Cedeno agreed to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 2007.

The Orioles were expecting Cedeno, not Mo Vaughn. It was reported that Cedeno showed up to spring training weighing 274 pounds.

He was released on March 23, 2007.

Now Batting…Number 19…Roger Cedeno. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

1999 155 525 453 90 142 23 4 4 36 66 17 60 100 .313 .396 .408 .804
2002 149 562 511 65 133 19 2 7 41 25 4 42 92 .260 .318 .346 .664
2003 148 527 484 70 129 25 4 7 37 14 9 38 86 .267 .320 .378 .698
TOTALS 452 1614 1448 225 404 67 10 18 114 105 30 140 278 .279 .344 .376 .720

About the Author

Lifetime Met fan who hates his parents for making him become a Mets fan as a child. No amount of therapy has helped and cannot switch teams now. Quitting smoking was easier. What a joke this organization really is, how much pain and suffering it has brought us through the years. Bad enough to be in Big Apple with Yankees fans.

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