For the first time in as long as we can remember this season, Edgar Renteria was the hero in a Red Sox victory, 7-5 over the Oakland A’s last night. Good. Now perhaps everybody can shut up about him.
Renteria’s bases-loaded single last night gave the Sox their first win in three games and a chance to come back home with a 3-3 mark on their West Coast swing, with one more to play this afternoon at the Al Davis Pavilion. It was a glimpse of something good, something Sox fans haven’t seen enough of from the Nation’s shortstop for the next three seasons, one due to make $40 million over four years in Boston. Too many strikeouts. Can’t come through in the clutch. Not mentally stable enough to play in Boston. Enough errors to make Nomar Garciaparra look like Ozzie Smith.
The numbers aren’t jaw dropping: he's hitting just .253 with a pair of home runs and 13 runs batted in. His on-base percentage of .306 is low, especially for a guy who has been among the league-leaders in that category over the years. Mark Bellhorn has more walks than Renteria. Enough said.
And yet the criticism lobbied toward Renteria is rather sparse. Fans are starting to wonder why this Edgar has seemingly found himself on a ride with the Edgar Winter Group. Is this a new, kinder Red Sox Nation in the wake of victory?
Come on. The answer is simple. He hasn’t been nearly as bad as you think he has.
Tony La Russa went on WEEI yesterday and professed concern for Renteria’s feelings. He’s worried they might be hurt by a Boston fan base frustrated with Renteria’s subpar performance thus far, and wondered aloud whether a guy like his former shortstop in St. Louis, where even carjacking comes with a smile, could ultimately succeed in Boston.
His feelings? Are you kidding me? My God, send him over to Bunker Hill Community then to find Sean Maguire if that’s a concern. Did La Russa serve the Cardinals Chips Ahoy and read from the Magic Schoolbus when things got a little tense in the clubhouse? Wow. If the Sox had known this before, maybe they should have thrown the Cardinals a bone and tossed one of the games last October to spare hurting their feelings. You know what helps make the bad feelings go away. How about $40 million dollars? That help?
Besides, we’re not really sure what La Russa is basing these claims on, since on this very date a year ago, Renteria’s production at the plate was similar to what it is in 2005 with Boston.
For La Russa to hint that Renteria may not be able hack it in Boston is either ignorant or egotistical. Knowing La Russa, it’s the latter. Exactly one year ago on this date, Renteria was batting .284 with three home runs, 16 runs batted in, and an on-base percentage of .327. This was apparently before the intervention Walt Jocketty held to rid him from being sad.
Aside from the batting average, sounds a little familiar, no?
Renteria finished the season at .287, 10 home runs, 72 runs batted in, .327 OBP, certainly not numbers that were close to his best season a year earlier when he was .330, 13, 100, .394. But Renteria has never come close to those numbers in any previous season, and for Sox fans to expect that instead of a tidy .280, 12 homers, 80 runs batted in, is not realistic. From a production standpoint, Renteria is right where Red Sox fans should expect him to be. It’s his consistent ability to get on base that folks should be more concerned with.
And oddly enough, his defense.
His six errors lead the team, and this is a club that writes Kevin Millar checks for bringing a glove to the park. He had 11 all of last season, five fewer than Cabrera had between Montreal and Boston, and his .960 fielding percentage this season is worse than any other shortstop in baseball not named Clint Barmes of Jhonny Peralta.
Meanwhile, Orlando Cabrera leads American League shortstops with a .989 percentage. Oh, by the way, after a fast start, Cabrera is hitting .241 with the Angels. Of course, Sox fans are apt to remember his flashy leather more than his adequate pine. His defense made his inadequacies at the plate easier to deal with.
In Renteria’s case, the early season defensive shortcomings would be overlooked if he hit the ball a bit more. But Renteria is a different player, and not in the sense that you have to coddle him. He’s never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, and may never drive in 100 runs again. He does a lot of things well, but no one thing great. He has consistently in his career been able to get on base and score. That’s what you get in Renteria. If you’re expecting an offensive powerhouse, you’re going to be waiting a while I am afraid.
Just don’t boo him if you start to get frustrated. It might hurt his feelings, and those of course are first and foremost.
Jumping off the cliff
How does a list of the Top 10 TV cliffhangers include South Park, but not the Simpsons classic, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” And where is “Sledgehammer?” Not many TV shows can create a cliffhanger where the main character destroys Los Angeles in a nuclear explosion.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Betting Fool is becoming a Red Sox hata. “Note to Red Sox fans: Can't you at least stay away until your idiotic team shows up? Dozens of sparkling new Red Sox hats at the Coliseum over the weekend. As one of the main Flag Waving Psychos pointed out -- again and again to anyone with a "B" on their brow -- "Nobody here likes you!"
Jeez. I sure hope he didn’t something of the same ilk to Edgar Renteria. Might have hurt his feelings.