Ronny Cedeno: X-Factor

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Trolling around for stuff to write about and I come across this piece from FanHouse yesterday, in which John Hickey runs down the “x-factors” of all the NL teams. You know, those guys who will hopefully make the difference.  The Pirates’ entry caught my eye:

Ronny Cedeno, shortstop. Cedeno’s last two managers, Lou Piniella with the Cubs and Don Wakamatsu with the Mariners, have predicted big things for him, but somehow the fit has’t been quite right yet. That may no longer be the case in Pittsburgh. Cedeno has a little bit of power and should hit for a better average, but his biggest boost in Pittsburgh is defense that could serve to make the Pirates pitching staff that much more effective.

Maybe Cedeno is good with the glove, but given that the guy he is more or less replacing — Jack Wilson, shy a couple of months post-trade — is about the best there is these days, are the Pirates’ pitchers really going to see a benefit?

My take on just about every preseason analysis piece is to believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.