Orlando Cabrera just landed with the Oakland A's, signing a one-year deal worth $4 million, which could hardly be more illustrative of the difference between Billy Beane and Brian Sabean. Sabean makes moves out of desperation, acting hastily, and either ends up getting fleeced or overpaying for mediocrity; while Beane cannily outmaneuvers whoever he's dealing with, and waits for the exact moment when he can maximize his efforts and the team's success.
Looking at their last three seasons, the two shortstops are almost identical in terms of offensive production. Renteria has a slight edge in home runs, and OBP, while Cabrera has played in more games, and consequently accumulated more hits, runs and RBI. BP's VORP has Renteria at 10 and Cabrera at 18.8 for last season. In '07, Cabrera was at 28.8 and Renteria 48, and in '06, Renteria was at 38 and Cabrera at 28 again; so using VORP, it appears that Renteria has been more productive (96 total VORP over the last three seasons), albeit inconsistent, while Cabrera has been consistently average (77 total VORP for the last three seasons)
Of course, defensively, they're not so similar. Renteria has never turned 100 double plays in a season, while Cabrera has reached that mark six times, including each of the last three. Cabrera also has many more assists, putouts, and total chances, indicating that he gets to more balls, and turns more of them into outs. The
gue_filter%5B0%5D=All&pos_filter%5B0%5D=6&Submit=Submit&orderBy=plays&direction=DESC&page=1″>Hardball Times defensive metrics indicate the Cabrera's better than Renteria across the board, and in some cases, quite a bit better.
In fact, looking at the two players side by side, it's hard to imagine how Renteria landed a two-year, $18 million dollar deal while Cabrera sat and twisted in the wind, until I remember who absolutely had to get a shortstop, right away, even though our primary need was a big bat. So, while the Giants did not address their number one priority this off-season, a big bat, they did fill a position that some would argue was already manned, or at the least, one that could have been filled by someone commanding a far smaller salary. Instead, they went out and got the far weaker defensive player out of the two 30-something shortstops available (remember, only grownups can be counted on to play well), and they paid four times as much to get him.
In fact, the Giants could have taken the $18 million they're burning in Renteria's honor and landed both Cabrera and Adam Dunn, which would have, again, actually contributed to the possibility of contending.
UPDATE: Even John Shea agrees with me:
…. With the A's agreeing to a contract with shortstop Orlando Cabrera, it's the Giants' move, and anything less than a Manny Ramirez purchase gives the clear edge to the A's in the competition to upgrade the most powerless offenses in the majors.
…. The A's have added 65 home runs and 241 RBIs (based on last year's numbers). The Giants have added 10 homers and 55 RBIs.