Context is Everything
The facts are these, however:
- Renteria came off a season where he hit .270/.317/.382/.699 at Detroit, but hit .296/.343/.469/.812 in the second half of the season. He had hit .332/.390/.470/.860 the season before in Atlanta, .293/.361/.436/.797 the season before that, and he hit .336/.387/.477/.864 on the road in 2007, .287/.363/.460/.823 the season before that. These all suggest he just had a bad first half of 2008 and would hit somewhere in the mid to high 700 OPS, perhaps higher if he got things going. He would be 33 for the 2009 season.
- Orlando Cabrera was the option that most note as an example of who the Giants should have signed instead. He signed for $4M in the middle of spring training. His two previous seasons he hit .282/.335/.404/.738, .301/.345/.397/.742, and .281/.334/.371/.705 in 2006, 2007 and 2008. And his career numbers right now is .275/.323/.398/.721. That's the reason he was paid so much less, he isn't the hitter that Renteria has been, either career or in the recent prior two seasons. Plus he is a year older than Renteria.
- Rafael Furcal was another option. He signed before Renteria for 3 years at $30M plus team option year. His career numbers are about what Renteria has had and he's only 31 for this season. However, he had been bothered by injuries in 2007 and 2008. And he hit pretty poorly in 2007 when he played most of the season, though he hit great in limited but extended play (36 games, 143 AB) in 2008.
Furcal, however, was pretty bad on defense, about 10 runs below average. And his offense has been about as good as Renteria's. So he was clearly a worse deal than Renteria's, less runs overall while getting more dollars and more years.
So Renteria's deal, viewed in the line of pre-season facts, at least was equal to the deal that Cabrera got, and appeared better than what Furcal got. It wasn't a steal, but based on past performances, it appeared fair at least. One of Fangraph's writers thought so, writing "For San Francisco, this isn't a bad deal..."
Reality, However, Can be a Bitch
However, it has not worked out as it appeared it might before the season began. Furcal's having his best fielding season ever, even for his younger years, but having one of his worse hitting years. Still, with good defense, Fangraphs have him generating $8.7M of value thus far, so he looks like he will earn his salary, based on Fangraphs methodology. Cabrera is having his worse defensive year ever, but his offense is one of his better ones. He has earned $3.2M according to Fangraphs, and look to earn his salary as well.
Not so good for the Giants, not by a long shot. Renteria has had a bad year both offensively and defensively - apparently he has an elbow spur, which is similar to what Dave Roberts had his first season with the Giants, and which he needed an operation on - and is actually costing money, so he has been a total loss. It is his worse season ever, but $9.5M is $2M less than the average of what Renteria had earned since 2002, $3M less than his prior three seasons, and is $500K less than what he had earned the prior five seasons. He looked like a good bet to earn what he'll be paid, even given some decline, over the next two seasons, but he is a bust signing.
However, clearly, that bone spur on Renteria's elbow greatly affects him. It affected Roberts so much that he could barely hit with it, but was back to normal once it was operated on and he returned to the lineup later in the season (his first one). I'm not sure why the Giants just don't operate on Renteria, which would shut him down for the season, as they have Uribe in reserve, and while he's not as good as Renteria in recent years, he should be better than Renteria this year.
Heck, between Uribe and Frandsen, the Giants should be able to cobble together enough offense and defense to match the suckiness that has been Renteria's season. I would never wish an injury on anyone, but Renteria sitting on the DL now wouldn't be the worse thing in the world right now for the Giants. Renteria's "Hot" streak is .273/.351/.364/.715 since July 26th, but his cold streak is .193/.256/.229/.484 since July 4th (I had explained my Hot/Cold streak in a prior post: basically, the players hottest and coldest streak I could find for him currently, where both are relative to each other, i.e. both could be good, both could be bad, but one is hotter than the other).
Uribe apparently has hamstring problems right now, which would make Frandsen the starter at SS (but could cost Aurilia, who just got off the DL, with Bowker going down, DFAed), based on who we have in the minors right now. Frandsen's MLEs and his career hitting in the majors suggest that he should easily beat Renteria's .254/.311/.318/.629 abomination this season and the puny 2 homers Edgar has hit so far, easily. That Frandsen would provide some average defense as well would be a bonus.