Like a lot of Giants fans, I haven’t been one of Edgar Renteria’s biggest fans.
At times I may have called for them to just go ahead and DFA Renteria or give him a position as "Special Assistant to the Trainer," or even trade him for a bag of balls, but the time has come to eat a nice big plate of crow, or—for those of you not familiar with that term—recant, renege, repudiate, renounce, abjure, disavow, disown, and rescind my past statements regarding Renteria being a waste of a roster spot.
You have to understand that it’s not all my fault. Like many Giants fans, I have been conditioned by Brian Sabean to have a knee jerk reaction to any aging veteran he signs—and overpays for—who begins to show signs of either declining production or spats with injuries, or both.
For examples of this please refer to Aaron Rowand, Mark DeRosa, Edgardo Alfonzo, Armando Benitez, Benjie Molina, and Freddy Sanchez.
After 2009, there appeared to be little doubt that Renteria would wind up being just another name on a laundry list of players for whom Sabean had over-payed and who then failed to produce at anything close to their previous production.
That year, Renteria played in just 124 games, hit .250, with a .305 OBP and just five home runs with an OPS of just .635.
What’s more is that Renteria had never been billed as a defensive shortstop but was there for his bat. Through 2009, he generated a WAR of merely 0.3, which means that he was essentially a replacement level player making $9 million a year.
However, at the end of the year, Renteria disclosed that he’d been playing through pain with bone chips in his right elbow. While it seemed logical that Renteria might rebound once he had surgery, I wasn’t holding my breath.
Renteria shot out of the gate this year. He hit .326, including a five hit day and a walk-off home run before landing back on the DL in May with a pulled groin.
Like a lot of other Giants fans, this was not a surprising turn of events for me. Renteria seemed destined for a recurring role on General Hospital and a future spot on the Kerry Wood All-Stars.
Then Renteria came back, but instead of going into the toilet, he kept hitting. I was more surprised than Danny Noonan when Judge Smails came busting through the door.
I figured that, just like Garbage Pail Kids, Britney Spears, and Mel Gibson’s sanity, it wouldn’t last. The thing is, even after being platooned with Juan Uribe, Renteria has pretty much stabilized at a slash line of .284/.346/.376, good for a 1.0 WAR.
Not bad numbers for a shortstop who has an average glove.
However, more important in my book is that Renteria came up big against the Dodgers. Matt Cain looked poised for another “Caining.”
Oh, you’re not familiar with Caining?
Caining, [keyn-eng] –verb
1. To pitch lights-out baseball and not surrender any runs through seven to eight innings only to have your team score no runs during that time, stranding runners on second like they think it’s getting too cramped in the dugout, only to be pulled for a pinch hitter, taking a no-decision.
2. To surrender fewer than three runs over six to nine innings but have your meager offense look like Bea Arthur against an opposing pitcher who came in to the game with an ERA over 5, scoring less runs then the other team to take the loss.
Renteria, however, came up big yesterday and is yet another example of how you don’t necessarily have to be a great player to endear yourself to Giants fans.
Just play great against the Dodgers (remember Brian Johnson).
While I still don’t think that Renteria is worth $9 million a year (fangraphs.com currently lists his player value at $4.1 million), I don’t think he’s a waste of a roster spot either and am ready to admit that I was wrong.
Hopefully, Renteria will continue to produce down the stretch, and the Giants will overcome their disadvantage of having Sabean and Bochy in charge. Then we can all forget that Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa will make a combined $18 million this year.