Reaction: Renteria, Girardi, Torre

Herewith the first installment of the “do we care” category of the Hot Stove season …

Edgar Renteria Traded to the Tigers

Do We Care: yes

The Atlanta Braves made the first move of the offseason — a preemptive strike on the impending free agent market — by sending shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for two minor leaguers no one has ever heard of, RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez.

On the one hand, it’s great that the Braves have dumped one of their most dangerous hitters and an excellent defender in the infield. On the other hand, they have Yunel Escobar waiting in the wings and looks more than ready to take over — possibly matching Renteria’s production both in the field and at the plate. Plus, he comes at a much lower salary, which means the Braves now have some cash to throw at free agents such as Torii Hunter and Tom Glavine.

Oh, and then there’s that matter of the two “unknown” prospects — it turns out they’re pretty good. Jurrjens, a 22-year-old from Curacao with outstanding control and a 97-MPH fastball, is almost guaranteed to step right in to the back end of the Braves’ starting rotation and be the pitcher that Kyle Davies couldn’t. Hernandez may be further away from MLB duty, but he’s only 20 years old and is a Carlos Gomez type of prospect — great speed, good raw ability, some possibility of developing power as he grows older. Baseball America rated him Detroit’s #7 prospect last November, saying, “The only position player in the system with more upside is Cameron Maybin. Hernandez may follow the same path and play in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He could become a special prospect if he continues to mature.”

Ain’t it amazing how the Braves are seemingly always able to make brilliant deals, shed money, and come up with great young (and inexpensive) talent? It’s really annoying …

Joe Girardi Named Manager of Yankees

Do We Care: No

Ho-hum. Do we care? Not really. The only benefit to the Mets is that Girardi is not a manager in the NL, where he showed promise leading the Marlins. Had he not been offered the job by the Yanks, he likely would have had a shot at the managerial position of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that might have bothered me, since Girardi would have been a good fit there. However …

Joe Torre May Manage the Dodgers

Do We Care: Not really

So, “Clueless Joe” is moving westward … or at least, that’s the rumor. The rumor also surmises that Don Mattingly will follow him there as bench coach.

This is supposed to make the rest of the National League shake in their boots?

Unless the Dodgers decide to double their payroll, I’m not concerned. Without the very best talent in the universe available to him, Joe Torre’s managerial record is a sparkling 894-1003. Yes, he managed some bad Mets teams in the 1970s, but he also did nothing of consequence leading the Braves and Cardinals. OK, he did finish first with the Braves once (1982), but didn’t finish first in any of his other 15 non-Yankee years as a manager. Returning to the NL, he’ll have to actually manage again — you know, do that stuff that Willie can’t comprehend, like remove pitchers at the right time, use pinch-hitters effectively, call bunts at opportune times, and do that double-switch thing every once in a while.

If the Dodgers are dumb enough to blame their 2007 season on Grady Little, and think Joe Torre is the answer … well … good luck with that, guys. Another fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive NL West looks to be in the future.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. skibolton October 30, 2007 at 11:37 am
    Jurrjens onlt throws in the low 90’s, but he has good command. He is actually very similar to the prospect they gave up in the tex deal. He pitched well in several starts for detroit this year. The move only saved them 6 million, and I really think they would be wasting their money on glavine. That said, I hope they sign him so that we can move on to somebody else.
  2. joe October 30, 2007 at 11:43 am
    You’re right … Jurrjens only throws in the low 90s, but in the same way Pelfrey only throws in the low 90s — both can get it up over 95 when they want to, with a straight-arrow 4-seamer. In fact, Jurrjens is the guy the Mets wish Pelfrey was, and likely the guy the Yankees wish they took from the Tigers instead of Humberto “Ouch My Elbow” Sanchez.

    Why do I get the feeling this guy Jurrjens is going to win 15 games and the ROY award next season? And that Escobar will hit .320 and play Gold Glove defense? I hate the Braves…

  3. skibolton October 30, 2007 at 12:12 pm
    Escobar isn’t really an improvement ove renteria, but I do like the prospects atlanta got. They sent all of their best prospects away at the deadline last year, and aren’t very deep with major leaugue ready talent. Their bullpen is still awful, dotel will probably leave, and gonzalez isn’t expected to return anytime soon. Hampton still isn’t a definate, and they are losing andruw. Texiara can’t really hit any better than he did after they acquired him. Chipper was relatively healthy (for chipper). Smoltz and Hudson would be very hard pressed to improve on this season. This is a nice trade for them, but I just don’t see it helping that much in 2008. Unless the braves get some more help, I just don’t see them finishing any better than third next year.
  4. joe October 30, 2007 at 2:07 pm
    Renteria has been an All-Star-caliber shortstop for a long time. In that sense, no, Escobar is not an improvement. Escobar also hasn’t shown the affinity for run production that Renteria has accomplished in the past few years. However, Escobar did look pretty darn good at the plate in his limited audition in ’07, and his glovework was as good or better than Renteria’s — and Renteria was once a Gold Glover. It’s a very smart move by the Braves and I don’t think they’re going to lose much production at all from the shortstop position as a result of it.

    Smoltz and Hudson don’t need to improve, but simply continue the standard they’ve set over the past three seasons. And that’s better than any 1-2 combo the Mets have had over the same time period. Add in Glavine for another 200+ innings and now the bullpen is not such a serious worry for them — although I agree it’s currently in a shambles. But, the thing about Bobby Cox, and unlike Willie Randolph, is that he isn’t afraid to try 25 guys in the bullpen, and doesn’t believe in hard-set roles. So the Braves have more potential to improve in the ‘pen after Opening Day.

    Also this is just one move of many to come from the Braves … they’ll be re-tooling, and already have a pretty strong foundation from which to work.

    They may finish third next year, but could still wind up within five games of first place … I doubt they’ll be blown out of the water.

  5. isuzudude October 30, 2007 at 2:18 pm
    I agree, Joe. The Braves always seem to have some aces (figuratively speaking) up their sleeves, and always seem to field competitive teams no matter how few high-priced veterans are on the roster. Wasn’t it just a few years ago they won the NL East using 18 rookies or something like that? Plus, I don’t think it’s a little premature to be predicting what teams are going to finish in what places in OCTOBER. A whole lot can happen between now and opening day, so let’s stay patient.