With the Red Sox being rained out on Saturday night, I had to look for other baseball to watch. Where do I turn? The only other television station with baseball on almost every day - TBS.
As all baseball fans know, TBS is the home of the Atlanta Braves. On this Saturday night they faced the Washington Nationals in one of the best games of the season in my opinion.
Nationals' young starting pitcher Michael O'Connor really impressed me with his "herky-jerky" delivery, and he would have had the win if it wasn't for Chad Cordero blowing it in the 9th inning. After the game became tied 5-5, Jeff Francoeur hit a walk-off grand slam.
But this isn't about O'Connor or Francoeur. It's about Edgar Renteria, the former Red Sox shortstop turned stud in Atlanta.
I closely watched Renteria on Saturday night, and it didn't take long for me to realize that he's a completely different player now that he's in Atlanta. He looked happy, and he acted happy. I never saw him act like that when he was in Boston.
Renteria is batting like we were told he would do in Boston. He's hitting .342 with a .408 on-base percentage with two home runs, 14 RBI, and five stolen bases. And we're paying him to do this!
Martin Gandy from Talking Chop, the Atlanta Braves blog of SportsBlogs Nation, says this about Renteria:
Red Sox fans may like to think that they have a great clubhouse atmosphere, but nothing can rival the camaraderie that exists on the Braves. The easy hand and constant encouragement of Bobby Cox, someone who never criticises his players (he won't even say bad things about 0-5 Jorge Sosa). And that style of Cox is echoed by the entire Braves coaching staff, from hitting coach Terry Pendleton, a future manager, to bench coach Pat Corrales.
The veterans that are here like John Smoltz and Chipper Jones also reflect the demeanor of their manager and coaches. One can look at the history of the Braves under Cox and see that if you can't make it in Atlanta, then you're not going to make it anywhere.
The two players who have been most critical of Cox and the Braves, John Rocker and Tim Spooneybarger, are no where to be seen on the Major League landscape these days. So all indications are that Edgar has bought into the Braves atmosphere, and is feeling more comfortable than he ever has.
It's about team, more than personal performance, and even though Edgar is on top of the baseball world right now, he knows that the real mission this season is to get the Braves back on top of the baseball world. So he will bunt and play small ball until they are.
I understand this explanation, but this is disappointing to me and I believe the rest of Red Sox Nation. We gave Renteria a fat contract - 40 million over four years - and we really wanted to get something out of him. And although his offensive numbers weren't horrible, his defense was bad enough to make it seem like he hit .220 on the season.
I really don't think the atmosphere is why Renteria is doing well, either. The atmosphere in Boston is great, and I'm sure the whole team loved Renteria. I think the pressure, however, is what doomed Renteria in Boston.
When he started stringing errors together, the Fenway Faithful got on his back. Then he started to be perfect and that just dug his own grave, because one error led to another and he couldn't stop. His hitting struggled also, but I would trade his offensive numbers last year for Alex Gonzalez's current ones for sure.
I'm happy for Renteria that he's doing well in Atlanta. I'm not happy we're giving Atlanta a nice chunk of change for letting him walk all over the competition. I can almost guarantee that he'd struggle if he came back to Boston, also.
I wouldn't be surprised if Renteria goes to the All-Star game this season and finishes the season with an average higher than .320. Like Gandy said, Renteria is built for the National League and low-pressure situations. I don't know Atlanta the best, but I'm confident in saying there's a big difference playing there than for the world's largest pressure cooker: Fenway Park.