A funny thing happened between this post decrying the possibility of an Renteria-indebted Giants team, and the false-positive news that Renteria signed for two years. Surprise of surprises, I kind of liked the idea. Oh, sure, by most accounts, Renteria's fielding has declined. His range, if you believe anecdotal evidence, is now somewhere between Russ Davis and a guy in a Grimace costume. If stats are your thing, there's evidence that Renteria's fielding has been in a slow decline for a while. Sure, his offense was down last year, and a mid-30s player isn't always the best bet to rebound. And, yes, Renteria's signing yesterday would have cost the Giants a second-round pick, which seems like a poor investment for a rebuilding team. And...
Wait, where was I? Oh, right, why I was kind of excited yesterday. My if/and/then scenarios:
If Renteria is productive, and Burriss performs well in the minors or majors, then the Giants have a tradeable contract with Renteria if the Giants don't contend, or a productive veteran in the outside chance the Giants do contend.
If Renteria is a dud, and Burriss performs well in the minors or majors, then the Giants aren't out much. Renteria isn't the difference between Sabathia or no Sabathia, or the difference between a Lincecum extension or letting him walk.
If Renteria is a dud, and Burriss is a dud, then the team will have to find a shortstop somewhere else before they're good. Note this scenario would be the same without Renteria.
If Renteria is productive, and Burriss is a dud, then Sabean's lack of faith will look like a nice slice of goateed genius.
And I share that lack of faith in Burriss. I humbly apologize, but I can't help it. For five years, I've been yapping things like "play Todd Linden!"or "give Damon Minor a shot!", but when a young shortstop comes up and shows off a good glove and a .357 on-base percentage, suddenly I start backing away. But Burriss shouldn't have been in the majors last season. That he did better than expected was a huge boost to the youth movement, but his performance wasn't a likely one when considering that Burriss was just a year removed from playing his way out of San Jose.
Most importantly, if Burriss struggled -- we're talking a true sub-Mendoza, Bocock-blocking of the Giants' offense -- there wasn't another option. Ivan Ochoa? The actual Brian Bocock? Good gravy. And the options in next year's free agent class are miserable -- unless former Rated Rookies like Khalil Greene or Bobby Crosby are the types of reclamation prospects that shuck your oysters, there's absolutely nothing of value on the free agent market. Maybe the Giants could swing a trade, but either they would have to deal substantial pitching talent for a promising shortstop, or they would have to take a Burrissish chance on an unknown quantity.
The risk of Burriss struggling probably isn't worth a four-year deal to Furcal. The if/and/then scenario breaks down right away, as a broken and expensive Furcal would almost be as hard to trade as Barry Zito. The risk certainly isn't worth three- or four-years to Orlando Cabrera or Renteria. Those kind of contracts seem like recipes for future untradeable, unwatchable malcontents.
But two years? Suddenly, I'm thinking about how nice the offense would look if Renteria repeated his 2007 season. I'm thinking, great, now Burriss can get the development time in Fresno that he skipped, and Kevin Frandsen can finally get the put-up-or-shut-up season that his minor league career warrants. And if Renteria decomposes before our eyes, the deal isn't long enough to affect much of anything.
The difference between two years and three years to Edgar Renteria: surprisingly huge. I was already looking forward to the rest of the offseason. Now, I'm not especially looking forward to the eventual four-year, $40M deal that Renteria does sign with the Giants, but for a moment, the acquisition made sense.