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An Open Letter About Edgar Renteria

To Whom It May Concern;

Edgar Renteria might be the worst starting position player in baseball. He’s at least in the discussion. Don’t take this as an attack on the idea behind his signing – I thought it was a good idea at the time. I regret that thought, and I wish there enough Lava Soap of the Mind to scrub it from my psyche, but I can’t complain about having Renteria on the team. I liked the length of the contract, and I was only a little put off by the money. Watching a year of Brian Bocock and an expired Omar Vizquel flailing at the plate will do that to a man.

So assigning blame is pointless. The end result is that Edgar Renteria is here, and he’s one of the worst starting players in baseball. I could feed you stats to prove my point – maybe throw in a link to Renteria’s FanGraphs page, which is worth 10,000 words – but you can use your eyes for this one. We all thought those post-signing scouts were just being curmudgeons when they panned the Renteria deal, but it turns out that Renteria has only one decent baseball-related skill left: he’s a very steady fielder on balls hit within his range. Renteria is no longer good at everything else that is related to the sport. He can’t catch up to fastballs; he can’t lay off breaking balls; he doesn’t hit for any power at all; he has no range; he’s slow; he’s impatient at the plate.

That’s just how it is. He probably deserves to be on a major league roster based on his one remaining skill, so this isn’t to say he should be released. And blessings to Juan Uribe for his surprising offensive production this year – it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s something more than we expected – but I understand if you don’t feel as if he’s a viable option as a starter. Kevin Frandsen has obviously displeased the organization, and I’m not really privy to the internal conversations as to why, so I’m not going to pretend to know if that’s a reasonable thing or not. And while I’m confident Frandsen can outhit Renteria at this point, I’m not sure if Frandsen can be as good defensively as Renteria, which is a pretty telling lack of faith. Maybe the reports from Fresno are positive, but I’d be surprised.

So there might not be a palatable in-house alternative for the rest of the 2009 season. I’d probably give Uribe more at-bats if I were in charge, and I’d certainly have Frandsen on the roster, but those aren’t changes that will make a whole lot of difference.

What will make a difference, though, is if you treat Renteria as if he is one of the worst starting position players in baseball. This would mean:

  • Not hitting him as high as second in the order, which can only lead to more at-bats.
  • Not hitting him in the middle of the order – there have been a couple of lineups in which he’s hit fifth! – which will only lead to wins if the other team is unable to take the field through the tears and laughter
  • Not intentionally putting Renteria into high-leverage situations, such as putting him into pinch-hit for Travis Ishikawa with runners on base in today's game against the Reds.
  • Going into the offseason with shortstop as a priority. Again. It stinks, but it’s the best way to improve the team offensively and defensively. The money given to Renteria isn’t coming back. But the position can be upgraded. So you can lose the money and have poor production, or you can lose the money and have better production.

I understand why you took a chance on Renteria. He just turned 34, but he used to be an elite player. He had a strong second-half last year. There weren’t a lot of ways to upgrade the position without giving up prospects or draft picks. The position was an absolute organizational ghost town. But that’s in the past. Right now, Renteria does not help the Giants win. Next year, Renteria probably isn’t going to help the Giants win. The short-term options are limited, but there are things you can do to minimize the disadvantage.

I did love, though, that he wanted to tear Russell Martin's larynx out with his teeth. He'll always have a spot in my heart for that one.



Some Guy in His Mother’s Basement