brandon-belt

When “Thank You” is Not Nearly Enough

First let me thank the Cincinnati Reds organization, Manager Dusty Baker, and GM Walt Jocketty for removing that stale pile of Edgar Renteria from the sidewalk in front of AT&T Park. The Reds, as you may have heard, signed the chunky 34 year old Renteria to a one year contract for $2.1 million with $900,000 in incentives. This was after the Giants apparently made a $1 million one year offer to the plodding Renteria that he publicly stated showed him “a lack of respect”.

Renteria was just coming off a two year $18.5 million contract with the Giants during which his lack of run production was dramatic and his range at shortstop could only be likened to watching an elderly man pretending to move fast with a 60 pound weight tied to his ass. And I mean no disrespect to the elderly, or to those whose lifestyle includes tying heavy weights to their posteriors.

Don’t get me wrong. Renteria was a terrible pickup by the Giants in 2009, but he hit the game winning home run in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series to make the Giants World Champions. So tell me, you’re asking, did the Series win make Renteria’s $18.5 million contract and two years of poor fielding worth it? You’re damn right it did– that one electrifying moment was worth the entire two year contract. But the idea of resigning Renteria to come off the bench behind newly acquired shortstop Miguel Tejada was a loser in so many ways, much like the New Orleans Saints’ playbook.

A tenative thank you goes out to the Giants front office for apparently leaving the door, and their minds, open to top Giants’ prospect Brandon Belt making the team out of Spring Training this year. For the past 15+ years, Brian Sabean’s default for young players with potential is to keep them in the minor leagues long after most other MLB organizations would have brought them up to the big club. The spectacular emergence of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner may be the tipping point for the franchise to rethink that automatic approach.

While some amount of traditional minor league “seasoning” is essential, after a certain point players who should be producing at the Major League level are scoring runs and winning games for a minor league team. That’s exactly what happened with Buster Posey last year; the Giants were forced to bring Posey up a couple of months earlier than they planned when Bengie Molina’s bat and leadership skills went completely south. In reality, Posey should have been in the starting line-up on Opening Day.

There is room for Belt to seamlessly take over at first base (with Aubrey Huff moving to left field and Pat Burrell’s potent bat coming off the bench). If the Giants’ front office is actually giving Brandon Belt the opportunity to prove he is MLB-ready this Spring in Scottsdale, that will jumpstart the magic all over again in 2011.

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