Thursday, December 08, 2005

Renteria Era Over for Red Sox. Erratic Shortstop Traded to Braves.

The Edgar Renteria era came to a screeching halt this afternoon at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Dallas, as the Red Sox traded the disappointing shortstop to the Braves for a minor-league prospect. ESPN excerpt:

DALLAS -- The Boston Red Sox gave up on Edgar Renteria just one year after lavishing a four-year, $40 million contract on him, trading the shortstop to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for third base prospect Andy Marte.

Full Story

Renteria was arguably the biggest free agent bust of 2005. Don't believe me? Check out his stats from this past season:

He (Renteria) led the majors with 30 errors in '05, struggling at the plate in April and finishing with a .276 average, eight homers and 70 RBI. The Red Sox had been hoping for something more like the .330 average, 13 homers and 100 RBI he had when he won his second consecutive Gold Glove in 2003.

Perhaps Carlos Beltran of the Mets could make a better (worse?) case of having been the biggest free agent flop of 2005, but Edgar is right up (down?) there. Renteria never seemed comfortable in a Red Sox uniform. He would occasionally go through a three or four game stretch in which he would pound out two or three hits a game, using the entire field to line doubles into gaps. But mysteriously, he couldn't seem to sustain that performance and his season never did gain any real traction. His defense was atrocious. He mishandled many routine grounders, and his throws could be sloppy, which became a huge problem that was magnified by Terry Francona's insistence on playing the less than nimble Kevin Millar for most of the season at first base.

So how good is this kid Marte?

Marte, 22, batted .275 with 20 homers and 74 RBI in 109 games in Triple-A last season, and .140 with no homers and four RBI in 24 games with the Braves. He is rated as the top prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America. "This is a throwback type of third baseman," said Lajoie, a throwback type of GM. "This is the power corner that you hope will hit 25 homers when he does play in the majors."

So the question now becomes this: Does this kid fit into the Red Sox plans, or do they plan to deal him as part of a package for another commodity? I'd guess the latter seeing as the Sox just picked up Mike Lowell, as part of the Josh Beckett deal, to play third. Not only that, but the Sox have offered incumbent third baseman Bill Mueller salary arbitration. And Kevin Youkilis is still around, but the rumors in the air seem to have him heading to first base.

So just how did the Sox manage to get rid of Renteria and his hefty salary?

Boston will pay $8 million of the $26 million Renteria is owed for the next three seasons. In addition, the Red Sox must pay the $3 million buyout if his $11 million option for 2009 is declined.

SARCASM ALERT!!! Now it makes sense. The Braves let Rafael Furcal walk as a free agent, knowing he'd command at least $12 million a year. He just signed with the Dodgers for a three-year, $39 million deal, or $13 million a year. The bottom line is that the Red Sox will be paying 31% of Renteria's remaining salary while he plays for the Braves (or someone).

If the 2006 season was to start tomorrow, the Red Sox starting infield would probably be Kevin Youkilis at first base, newcomer Mark Loretta (acquired from the San Diego Padres for catcher Doug Mirabelli) at second base, Alex Cora at shortstop and Mike Lowell at third base.

I hate to say this, but my softball team's starting infield of Kathy C at first, Jesse G at second, Mike R at short and Ron M at third would probably give this unit a good run for the money, and at a vastly reduced cost! Whoever is wearing the Sox GM hat this week, please feel free to contact me at this blog. Hell, I'll even throw my meager services into the mix as Johnny Damon's replacement in center field once the Sox get tired of dealing with Johnny's agent Scott Boras. Now that's a bargain at any price!

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