Thursday, December 4, 2008

San Francisco Giants' Offseason Takes a Step Back, But It's a Small One

I was all set to write an article about how Edgar Renteria might not be a great idea for the San Francisco Giants, even at the relatively-cheap price of $9 million per year for two years. The reason was because of Ken Rosenthal's latest installment concerning the Major League Baseball offseason rumors. Well, Rosenthall now reports the Giants have signed Edgar for two years and $18.5 million.

Now, I'm generally not a fan of Rosenthal's writing.

But I am nothing if not fair and the man usually gets reliable, accurate inside information. Ol' Kenny has great access and does an excellent job of passing it along. So when he quotes an anonymous general manager questioning why so many teams are interested in Edgar, it gives me reason for pause.

When Rosenthal mentions a low OPS, the pause gets longer.

Renteria played for the Detroit Tigers last year. That's an easier hitter's park (despite what new-fangled ballpark stats may say) and a far more formidable lineup. I don't see how Renteria's OPS will improve in the Gents' weaker lineup and offense-swallowing home yard, especially if the pitching in the National League West continues on its upward arc.

That means his defense must be very good, otherwise he's arguably not an upgrade over Omar Vizquel (who gave you no power, but excellent defense at a cheaper price).

My pause turns slightly towards revulsion.

Because Ken also points out that Renteria's defense is a major concern, specifically his ability to move to his right for balls in the hole. That's unsettling for two reasons. The first being that, if this is true, Renteria will not be very good defensively and SF just wasted money. The second being the constitution of the as-assembled 2009 San Francisco Giants. With young pitchers and a weak-though-improving offense, defense will be at a premium.

And covering the hole may be an issue because neither Kevin Frandsen nor Pablo Sandoval have seen a lot of time at MLB's version of the hot corner.

Even worse, in the first Rosenthal piece, he links the signing of Renteria with C.C. Sabathia.

Oh no. Oh, oh, oh NO!

I've said it before, but I like Sabathia. Who wouldn't like a guy who takes the whenever asked, usually gets you to the eighth before you even think of stirring the bullpen, and may launch one for good measure? But at $22 million a year?!?

For a team stacked in pitching - young, cheap pitching - and a staff that already contains an enormously bloated contract? Even with a hometown discount, that's going to be more than Barry Zito's albatross. And, as I've written before, there is reason to be scared by the prospect of signing C.C. and then losing him.

Renteria, even if the deal goes sideways, won't be too crippling. If his offense improves (or even just persists) and his defensive woes are overstated, he'd be a pretty valuable and efficient signing. I don't think the latter is likely, but I see the worst-case scenario as only a slight regression.

Signing Sabathia would be a major regression.

It would make the pitching staff ridiculous and make either Jonathan Sanchez, Noah Lowry, or Matt Cain. I'd guess Cain since he'd have the most value on the open market and will demand the highest price to keep when that day comes. But the staff already looks pretty impressive and I love Matt Cain. I'd rather have him than Sabathia.

I think he's remarkably similar to Sabathia (though younger and backed by a pathetic offense) except he's a homegrown product. And I love his heart, his mental toughness. Those are the intangibles that make good talents great players.

Only time will tell if a metaphorical seismic shift is in the future for the Orange and Black.

But the last, literal one wasn't too kind to San Francisco. I don't think the metaphorical version would be any better.

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