Serious questions were raised about whether Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria truly deserved and was worth the two-year, $18.5 million contract that general manager Brian Sabean signed him to at the beginning of the free agent frenzy that is baseball's offseason.
He was coming off one of the worst seasons of his professional career in 2008 while playing in Detroit. And despite coming to back to the league that he has excelled in, there were concerns that he had aged a whole lot more than a player at age 33 is supposed to.
His Spring Training wasn't anything to brag about, especially the way he closed it out and after looking like he had snapped out of a funk to begin the year, Renteria's performances in the Giants’ first six games of their current ten-game road swing has been anything but impressive.
With Aaron Rowand completely torching opposing pitchers since he moved to the leadoff spot 16 games ago, you would think that Renteria would be taking advantage of every opportunity to drive in runs over the past week.
Not so much.
He is 4-for-22 at the plate since the Giants arrived in Washington DC to begin the month and has only driven one run in the last nine games. He’s also looked sluggish in the field on the current road trip, committing one of his five errors on the season on the night Randy Johnson won his 300th game, a night where the Giants defense shined.
To his credit, when Sabean signed Renteria, he said his new shortstop is a clutch player and he has produced with runners in scoring position, hitting .311 with 21 of his 23 RBI coming in those situations. He’s going to surpass the run production, that’s pretty much a given, but the batting average isn’t that far off what was done last year.
The overall runs production numbers are good, but with the way Rowand has been tattooing the ball since May 20, Renteria should have a lot more to show for it. And it’s the other situations where he is struggling to put anything together, especially of late.
Whether it’s the nine-plus hours of rain delays or the continuation of what looks to be a season-long funk, Renteria has struggled both at the plate and with his defense, something that surely doesn’t help him change the doubters’ minds about him.
There’s a reason why San Jose Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly, after the Giants’ 5-4 loss to the Marlins Saturday night, dropped the line, “Renteria left the Marlins when he was 23. Now he’s 33. And Saturday night, he played like he was 53.”
He booted a ground ball against Marlins leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan to start the game, which was originally called an error but was changed later in the game. He also closed out the game with a terrible at-bat, one that saw his bat be the only thing that got passed the mound after he swung at three-straight pitches.
Not a good way to cap off a 1-for-5 night by any means. And this was after he didn’t play Friday.
Yet this is the Renteria we have seen this year, especially away from the friendly confines at AT&T Park.
When he finally looks like he’s clicking at the plate, he falls right back into whatever is bothering him, either little nagging injuries or just a lack of confidence at the plate.
Looking at his numbers 45 games into 2009, they are even worse than his so-called worst season in quite some time.
2008: 169 AB, .284, 4 HR, 24 RBI, .320 OBP, .396 SLG, .716 OPS
2009: 176 AB, .239, 2 HR, 23 RBI, .318 OBP, .318 SLG, .636 OPS
The two obvious stats that standout between Renteria’s 2008 and 2009 stats are his batting average and his slugging percentage.
He is walking more than he did a year ago, but he clearly isn’t driving the ball with the same kind of thump he did a year ago and his batting average is a reflection of that.
He was brought to San Francisco to improve the offense and fortify the shortstop position that hit only .228 with only one home run and 36 RBI last season. He was expected to have a better year because he was returning to the National League where he had his best years.
But neither has really been the case and the Giants are still at the bottom of almost every offensive ranking in the league.
Whether he remains in the No. 2 spot or is dropped down to a lower spot in the order until he gets out of this current funk, the grace period is over. Other players on the Giants have gotten a talking to from manager Bruce Bochy to either produce or see their playing time given to somebody else.
And there’s no reason, despite his contract, why Renteria shouldn’t be one of those players who has gotten a talkin’ to.