I’ve been seeing around the baseball blogosphere that I may be in the minority here, an angry Giants fan with not much to say. One of David Pinto’s readers commented:
I read the article and the guy really has no argument. He just rambles on about how the Giants have screwed up so many times before. Nothing but an angry Giants fan.
Well, that’s not true at all. Maybe it’s that I was more mad than analytical, but I have an argument, so let me be more clear.
The Renteria signing is a mistake because Renteria is a poor fit for this team. He is not a young player. He has no upside. He will not be a Giant when this team is contending for a championship. He ties up resources and a roster spot, and his production –what he brings to the party– will not be enough to justify signing him. He is not worth $9 million dollars for a seasons worth of his work. And Emmanuel Burriss might, just might, be able to handle the position for some $400,000.00, which would then free up that money to go after a real, difference-maker.
Not to mention:
…. One National League executive who saw Renteria last year said he looked 100 years old. Many observers reported a marked decline in his defensive range.
…. (Another) National League scout who saw Renteria often last year had a mixed assessment.
“I think the questions at this point have more to do with the defensive side than the offensive side,” the scout said. “He’s a player who’s lost a step. He still has the actions to play shortstop, but the question is how many balls can he get to? He has definitely lost some range in both directions.”
But the Giants scouted Renteria and saw a still-solid, National League-style No. 2 hitter in August and September.
So here’s a player that was so bad, the Tigers basically released him –sacrificing their replacement draft picks– not wanting to even imagine that he’d accept arbitration and be back next season, a player that anyone can see has entered the decline phase of his career, a player who came to camp last season fat and out of shape, even though he was playing for a new contract, likely to be the last big one of his career, and our GM looked at this same player and said this:
“I think the second half is more indicative of what he’s capable of. He was scouted heavily. We did a thorough statistical analysis of his second half versus his first half. We have no reservations about him being our shortstop let alone what he’s going to do on offense.”
He doesn’t walk much, he doesn’t steal, he grounds into a lot of double plays, he doesn’t drive in runs, he doesn’t score many runs, and he actually doesn’t get a lot of hits. He is a league average player, one that is far more likely to decline than he is to even just stay the same. Oh, and that says nothing about the very real possibility that he spends significant time on the DL. We’re talking about $9 million dollars.
Here’s Renteria average season over the last three: .298/.356/.429 .785 OPS with 85 runs scored and 60 runs batted in.
Is that really gonna help the Giants, a team that scored 680 runs last season?
Additionally, it reminds me that Brian Sabean and his crack team of baseball people have no plan for the future, no vision for building this team. This is $11 million per for Aaron Rowand, this is $6 million per for Benji Molina, this is $9 million for Randy Winn…. These are fine players, but on a contender, these would be considered complementary players. These are the kind of players you add to a team to fill out a roster, to supplement your stars. On the Giants, these are the stars, the best players on the team.
When league average guys making millions of dollars are the foundation of your team, you can never get the stars, because your baseline guys eat up too much money.
This is the same move this team has been making forever, and we’re supposed to be building for the future. This doesn’t do that.
I have nothing against Edgar Renteria, and I hope he has a terrific season. But, unless this is the first of about four major signings for MLB-caliber, top-ten offense at the position players, it is throwing money on a bonfire.
UPDATE: I’m not alone:
…. Can anyone explain, however, what Brian Sabean is doing in San Francisco? When he got rid of Ray Durham and Omar Vizquel, wasn’t it with the idea of getting younger? Then he signs the 33-year-old Renteria and 35-year-old reliever Bob Howry, both coming off bad years. Howry had a 5.35 ERA in 70 appearances while Renteria had a .317 on-base percentage with greatly diminished range after playing about 10 pounds heavier all season.
Said one scout: “Renteria may be 33, but he played like 38 last year. I can’t imagine anyone making a worse signing than that one.”