First off, let's get one thing out of the way before I make this argument.
I'm assuming that for whatever reason, we couldn't sign Orlando Hudson, even though he would have come at a bargain of a price that we certainly could have afforded. Hudson would trump this argument automatically because of the better season he is having in comparison to both the Oakland A's Orlando Cabrera and San Francisco Giants' Edgar Renteria (not to mention his youth in comparison to those two).
That being said I'm assuming that we couldn't sign Hudson because we needed a shortstop to replace Omar Vizquel, and in GM Brian Sabean's eyes, Emmanuel Burriss simply wasn't a formidable fit as the everyday shortstop going into 2009 (which would've been so as it turned out). Being that Hudson is a second baseman, he would've been out of the fold.
However, I think Sabean, who made the right decision in acquiring a shortstop in the off-season, simply made the wrong call in terms of what shortstop he signed in December. In retrospect, Sabean would have been better off if he signed Cabrera instead of Renteria.
This isn't the first time Renteria has overshadowed his fellow Colombian-born infielder. In 2004, after the Red Sox captured their first World Series title in 86 years, instead of signing Cabrera, who batted .294 with six home runs and 31 RBI after getting traded from Montreal, the Red Sox opted to sign Renteria from St. Louis. The move by the Red Sox spectacularly tanked. Renteria only batted .276 with eight home runs and a .720 OPS, and he lasted just one year in Boston's pressure-packed media scene.
As for Cabrera? While playing for the Angels, he statistically had a worse season than Renteria (Cabrera only batted .257 with eight home runs and a .309 OBP).
What made the difference, however, between the two players came in terms of salary. Renteria made $2 million more per-year with the Red Sox than Cabrera did with the Angels in 2005.
In addition to the difference in money, Cabrera was a better fielder than Renteria at this point in their careers (as evidenced by Cabrera winning the American League Gold Glove in 2007, while Renteria hadn't won one since 2003), and Cabrera's teams ended up doing better in the playoffs.
The Red Sox were eliminated in the ALDS in 2005. The Angels made it to the ALCS in 2005. The Red Sox won a World Series title with Cabrera in 2004. The Red Sox didn't win a playoff series with Renteria in 2005.
Four years later, we're seeing the same things with these two.
Renteria is overpaid and underachieving (even though I hold a slight glimmer of hope in one of my previous articles), while Cabrera is playing hot and proving to be a steal considering how much the A's signed him for in the offseason. Cabrera makes $4 million this season in Oakland. Renteria makes twice that at $8 million this year across the bay in San Francisco.
And yet, despite being paid more, Renteria pales in comparison to Cabrera in every statistical category this season. Cabrera is batting .276 with four home runs, 41 RBI and a .313 OBP for the A's. Renteria is only batting .252 with two home runs, 38 RBI and .305 OBP for the Giants.
It's crazy to think how consistently overlooked Cabrera is in comparison to Renteria. Sure, Renteria has put up some great stats in the past, and is a much better physical specimen than Cabrera (Renteria's six-foot, one-inch, 200-pound body towers over Cabrera's five-foot, nine-inch, 185-pound frame), but Cabrera has proved to be a better bang-for-the buck player over his career.
Furthermore, when it comes to the Giants, Cabrera would have fit perfectly with the already goofy, laid-back personality of this team. He would have found a great niche in between the "Kung-Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval at third and the Mohawk-sporting Juan Uribe at second.
The trio would be doing all kinds of handshakes that would make even Victor Martinez's head spin.
Intangibles and handshakes aside, the fact of the matter is that Cabrera would have offered more production at a cheaper price than Renteria. However, because of Renteria's physical attributes, and his overly-acclimated success with the Cardinals and Braves, Sabean overvalued him and paid way too much, even though he could have gotten a player with more spark and better chemistry issues at half the price.
Cabrera may not have been the more ballyhooed offseason signing, but he would have gotten the job done. When you consider how meager this San Francisco offense has been this season, especially at the shortstop position, we certainly could have used a guy like him on our squad this season.
And with the cheap price we undoubtedly would have gotten him at, who knows what possibilities we could have last offseason, this trade deadline or even next offseason.
Unfortunately for the Giants, with Renteria's mediocre play and contract still dragging the organization down going into next year, we'll never know those possibilities.
The Giants may have won the Bay Bridge Series this season, but the A's sure as heck kicked the Giants' butt when it came to signing a shortstop this year.