by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
October 30, 2007
On Monday, the Atlanta Braves traded SS Edgar Renteria to
the Detroit Tigers for for RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys
"The Tigers don't wait around for the winter
meetings, when all the owners and agents get involved.
We got Sheffield early last year and now we got Renteria
right away. I think this was a good move because
Renteria is a great player, who is a winner with a
championship under his belt."
--Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez
We can file this quote under Why Players Don't Make Good
General Managers. While I-Rod lauds the Tigers for
acting quickly, he should be chastising them for acting
Jair Jurrjens ranked as the Tigers 3rd best prospect
(73rd overall) in
Prospect Guide. The undersized 21-year old
had a 3.20 ERA in Double-A before making seven decent starts
with the Tigers. His fastball only resides in the
low-90's, but his command and pitching acumen are
ridiculously advanced for someone his age. The Tigers
may feel that they have a lot of pitching depth and could
afford to give him up, but then why did they need him to
make seven starts down the stretch as they competed for the
AL Wild Card?
Moving Gorkys Hernadez made a little more sense for
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. Detroit really is stacked
in the outfield, and although this 19-year old ranked 7th in
the Tigers' system (253rd overall) in the Scout.com Prospect
Guide, his OPS dipped to .735 in his first full professional
season. He did steal an incredible 54 bases this year
at an 83% clip, and reportedly has a high power ceiling, but
at least he's years away from reaching that potential.
The Braves have to be ecstatic about both acquisitions.
Jurrjens immediately becomes the third best starter in
Atlanta, and adding to their outfield depth was paramount
after losing Andruw Jones to free agency. But the real
steal of the trade is how little the Braves had to
relinquish to acquire these prospects.
Renteria is 32 years old and coming off what the Tigers
must believe to be a resurgent year. His .332 batting
average was a career-high, and his .390 OBP and .470 SLG
were each the second best marks of his career. You
don't have to believe in PrOPS (Renteria outperformed his by
72 points in 2007) to realize that this was indeed a fluke
season. Renteria has only twice posted an OPS over
.803, the other instance coming with the Cardinals in 2003.
He had a .375 batting average on balls he put in play and a
.331 batting average with runners in scoring position, each
of which are way out of line with anything Renteria had done
in the three previous seasons.
Of course, this is not a mere case of the Braves selling
high; they also sold high to the highest bidder. Dave
Dombrowski watched a 22-year old Renteria win him a 1997
World Series title in the eleventh inning of Game Seven that
year. I bet if you were in Atlanta this past week, you
could hear Dombrowski panting and clawing at new Braves GM
Frank Wren's door, "Renteria! Yeah, yeah. Renteria!"
The Tigers were in the market for a shortstop once they
concluded that Carlos Guillen wasn't cutting it defensively
there. The trouble is, Renteria hasn't been an above
average defender in years, and really only poses an upgrade
over Guillen by default. His limited range will be
partially masked because of the outstanding defenders on
either side of him, but that is all the more reason for
Detroit not to overspend on a shortstop.
Indeed, while Boston will pay a portion of Renteria's $9
million 2008 salary (along with the $3M buyout when the
Tigers decline his $11M 2009 option), he's not likely to
justify the portion that the Tigers need to pay, much less
the loss of those two top prospects. Meanwhile, the
Braves have Yunel Escobar ready to outperform Renteria in
every facet of the game and Brent Lillibridge, who the
Braves snared from the Pirates organization when they sold
high on Adam LaRoche last year, waiting in the wings in case
There may be a new GM in Atlanta, but it looks like
business as usual down there. The Tigers, meanwhile,
may have been quick to act, but they are also on the fast
track to the same three-year pattern begun on the South Side
of Chicago in 2005.
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.