The San Francisco Giants have been the talk of baseball over the month of July for many different reasons.
First and foremost is that prior to Monday night's 4-3 loss against the Florida Marlins, the Giants had racked up 15 wins in their previous 18 games.
Secondly, the Giants aren't just doing it with their pitching. San Francisco leads the majors in runs scored for the entire month and rookie sensation Buster Posey is riding a 19-game hitting streak, which has catapulted him to becoming the lead candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.
Yes, even ahead of Stephen Strasburg.
Furthermore, first baseman/outfielder Aubrey Huff is by far the best offseason offensive acquisition by any team in baseball.
When you consider that he is currently hitting:
.306/.390/.543/.946, 19 HR, 60 RBI, 49 BB, 47K
and is only being paid $3 million dollars in 2010, he is easily the best offensive addition any team has made. No other first year player for any of the other 29 teams has provided as much bang for his buck as Huff has for the Giants.
Combine the new offensive might from the Giants with the best starting rotation in baseball (sorry Cardinals fans, think what you want, but your rotation is second fiddle because it is top heavy).
And with the Cardinals' Brad Penny hurt, it is obvious the Giants have the dirtiest rotation in baseball with all five starters capable of being No. 2s, and three of whom are legitimate No. 1's.
But while the Giants have a dominant rotation, and a much improved offense from last season, the little things can still cost this team in a playoff race that will come down to the very last week of the season, if not the final series of the season.
That said, the way San Francisco lost to the Marlins on Monday night was only eerily reminiscent of recent losing seasons by the bay.
Washed up, overpaid veterans failing to produce is only all too familiar for Giants fans and the fact that their starting shortstop on Monday night couldn't even make solid contact once in five at-bats is downright pathetic.
It's partially the fault of the manager Bruce Bochy, who inserted Renteria in the lineup and in the two hole despite his being 0-15 against the Marlins' starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco heading into the game. The Giants suffered from gut-wrenchingly ugly at-bats all game long from their soon to be 35-year-old shortstop.
Not only did Renteria finish the game 0-5 with three Ks and three runners LOB, but in both the seventh and ninth innings, Renteria had the tying run in scoring position with two outs and struck out both times.
But the manner in which both strikeouts occurred was absolutely appalling. In the seventh, Renteria couldn't make any contact on two straight high-80's fastballs as he swung through both without even tipping either one.
And in the ninth, he swung and missed on ball four in the dirt for the final out of the game.
What does an awful game at the plate like this tell us? It tells us that the player doesn't have anything left.
Despite what he might have told San Jose Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly a couple of weeks ago, Renteria has nothing left.
Not only can he not come through when his team needs him at the plate, but he is a liability defensively as well. He is in the bottom-fourth, if not bottom-fifth, of all big league shortstops when it comes to range, and he has a noodle for an arm.
He doesn't steal bases (just three on the year, two fewer than Aubrey Huff), he can't beat out infield hits, and he can't hit a home run to save his life (just one homer on the season back during San Francisco's home opener).
His extremely pronounced closed stance prevents him from pulling any pitch down the left field line. Seventy-five percent of his swings look to be at half speed, and despite an above-average on base percentage of .356, his inability to hit for any type of consistency or drive in any runs ruins the few good numbers Renteria has established this season.
All you really need to know is this: Despite having a superior OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) to that of teammate and fellow middle infielder Freddy Sanchez (.721 to .660), 99 percent of Giants fans would tell you they would rather have Sanchez at the plate in a crucial RBI situation than Renteria.
Why is that the case? There aren't any numbers that support that case, so how can that be?
The reason behind Giants fans wanting Sanchez at the plate over Renteria is because of Sanchez' extended hot streak earlier this season and the sustainable fact that he is fun to watch play the game.
Sure, Sanchez' current slump has seen his numbers drop lower than those of Renteria, but Sanchez can hit the ball to all fields; he doesn't get overpowered by any pitcher's fastball, and he smiles.
The guy shows a personality on the field and in interviews with which it is easy to fall in love. You can see him making adjustments, having fun, and making difficult plays in the field seem routine.
With Renteria, it's just the complete opposite. He has a blank stare on his face, never seems to be enjoying the game, and doesn't give off a fun personality to the fanbase.
Therefore, when Renteria falls into a slump, it's easy for fans to bag on him because he always looks mopey and depressed out on the field.
Now are smiling and having a bounce in your step prerequisites to being a productive major leaguer?
No, of course not. But the fact that Renteria is now one of the league's worst defensive shortstops and is nothing but a mediocre .250 singles hitter with average speed, means the Giants could do better without him.
San Francisco would do a world of wonder for themselves if they were to eat the rest of his $9 million dollar salary and give his platoon shortstop role over to the younger and faster Emmanuel Burriss.
Even though Burriss has just a .262 career average and .629 career OPS, the 25-year-old would immediately become one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, as he sports a cannon of an arm with tremendous range, and would give the Giants an added dimension to their roster: speed off the bench.
The only other true base stealing threat on the 25 man roster is starting outfielder and leadoff hitter Andres Torres. With Burriss added to the mix, the Giants would have a better ability to give Torres days off (since Burriss is by far the next best option to hit leadoff) and the rest of the time, Burriss would provide the role of a perfect late innings pinch runner.
Any lack of offense Burriss would bring, compared to Renteria, would be made up with Burriss' defense and base stealing speed, and by going this route, the Giants can have so many different looks.
Not only can Burriss hit leadoff when Torres needs a day off, but instead of Sanchez, Rowand, Uribe, or Renteria batting eighth, the Giants could hit Burriss in that spot. If a starting infielder needs a day off, Burriss could hit in front of the pitcher and possibly move up two bases in one at-bat. A straight steal of second and then the pitcher sacrificing him over to third is just one of the possibilities with Burriss' speed.
This move simply makes too much sense not to happen, because while maybe Burriss wouldn't have done any better at the plate than Renteria did on Monday night, Burriss would have certainly thrown out Dan Uggla on a routine grounder to save a run.
Instead, Renteria's noodle arm let Uggla beat out an infield hit and the Marlins' second baseman came around to score later that inning.
Baseball games are won on both offense and defense, and Burriss clearly brings more tools in helping the Giants win than Renteria at this point in their careers.