Aug 17, 2016

1999 N.L. Wild Card Champion Mets Outfielder: Roger Cedeno (1999 / 2002-2004)

Roger Leandro Cedeno was born August 16, 1974 in Venezuela. The six foot one, switchhitter was signed out of high school in 1991 by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent.

The speedy Cedeno stole 40 bases in the Rookie League in 1992, followed up by a 28 stolen base year in 1993. At AAA Albuquerque in 1994 he stole 30 bases & hit .321 getting a call up to the Dodgers that season.

He was supposed to replace Bret Butler in centerfield, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Roger was back & forth to the minors over the next three seasons, batting .354 at AAA in 1997. He played four seasons in Los Angeles batting a best. 273 in 1997, while stealing only nine bases in 80 games. He saw more action in 1998 (105 games) but the Dodgers gave up on him after he batted just .242 with only eight steals.

In December 1998 he was traded along with Charles Johnson to the New York Mets for catcher Todd Hundley after the arrival of Mike Piazza in New York.

In New York, Cedeno became a big part of the Mets 1999 Wild Card season, helping them get to the NLCS. He set a Mets single season stolen base mark at the time, with 66 steals (second most in the NL). He hit a career best .313 and led the team with four triples. He scored 90 runs, hit 23 doubles playing in 155 games as the Mets main right fielder.

He debuted as a Met in the second game of the season entering an extra inning game against Florida in the 6th inning, getting a single in his first at bat. By early May he was hitting well enough to secure himself in the everyday lineup. He reached the .300 mark & began to steal alot of bases. He stole 23 bases in May, having seven games where he stole two or more bases. 

On May 14th 1999, he stole four bases in a game at Philadelphia against the Phillies. In the 1st inning he reached on an error then stole third base after he had advanced on a ground out. He would score a run on John Olerud’s HR. In the 5th inning he singled and stole second base, scoring again on an Olerud RBI hit. In the 7th inning Cedeno singled, then stole second & third base , soon scoring his third run of the game.

On May 17th he stole three bases in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. On June 7th in Tampa, Cedeno doubled to drive in Benny Agbayani in the top of the 10th inning, breaking a 7-7 tie, the run was the game winner. He had a good year staying over the .300 mark & stealing bases while playing a solid outfield. He played in 149 games, 127 in right field, posting a .987 fielding % and had nine outfield assists.

Post Season: In the NLDS against the Arizona Diamond backs Cedeno did not start the first three games but got into each game in the later innings. He came in as a pinch hitter replacing Benny Agbayani in Game #3, & drove in a run with a 6th inning single off Dan Plesac.

In Game #4 he hit a key sac fly that scored the games tying run, setting the stage for Todd Pratt’s dramatic walk off HR. Overall Cedeno hit .286 (2-7) in the Series, as much of the playing time went to Rickey Henderson, Benny Agbayani, Shawon Dunston & Daryl Hamilton.

In the NLCS he got two hits in the opener at Turner Field against the Atlanta Braves.& In Game #2 he drove in Ronin Ventura with an RBI single off Kevin Millwood in the 2nd inning. After not playing in Game #3, he had a big Game #4 at Shea Stadium getting three hits going 3-4.

In Game #5 he came in to pinch run for Matt Franco in the 15th inning & scored what was the winning run on Robin Ventura’s Grand Slam single. Overall Cedeno hit .500 going 6-12 with a double, two stolen bases and an RBI.

That December he had good trade value and the Mets used it, trading him along with Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros for Mike Hampton & Derek Bell. Hampton would be vital to the Mets effort in getting to the World Series that season.

In Houston, Cedeno missed three months of action after breaking his hand while sliding into first base head first. Overall he finished up hitting .283 playing in only 74 games. That winter he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in a six player deal & spent one season there batting .293 with 55 stolen bases (2nd in the AL). In 2002 he returned to the Mets as a free agent, but his second stint in New York wasn’t as successful as his first.

He did steal 25 of 29 bases, but only batted .260 with a .318 on base % with 65 runs scored. He began the year with two hits, a walk & an RBI on Opening Day, in the Mets 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. In May he had a ten game hit streak but struggled all year, never hitting above .260.

In June he got into a publicized argument with Roberto Alomar after teasing him about one of his old baseball cards. Manager Bobby Valentine had to sit the players down to straighten things out.

On September 19th he singled off the Cubs Will Cunnane in the bottom of the 9th inning driving in the game winning run. He also committed eight errors in the outfield, fourth most in the NL. That off season he was arrested for driving under the influence in Bradenton Florida after he was stopped for erratic driving.

In 2003 he hit only .267 stealing 14 bases with 7 HRs & 37 RBIs. His best offensive numbers came with his 25 doubles. Cedeno was once a popular player at Shea Stadium during the winning times, but now he heard the boos as he & the team struggled. Even in Spring Training Cedeno was hearing boos & worse things. He was finally traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Wilson Delgado at the start of the 2004 season.

In St. Louis 2004 he hit .265 and went to the World Series as a reserve outfielder. It was in this historic Series that the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918.

In the NLCS against the Houston Astros he only batted .167 (1-6) but in Game #7 he singled in the 6th inning & scored the game’s tying run. Cedeno he made four appearances in the World Series going 1-3.

Overall he hit .265 that post season playing in 11 games. In 2005 he was released and signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2006 season. He showed up overweight and didn’t make the club.

After a ten year career he batted .273 with 865 hits, 213 steals, 40 HRs, 274 RBIs, 127 doubles a .340 on base % & 32 triples in 1100 games played. In the outfield he posted a .976% with 31 assists.

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