26. Has Edgar Renteria gotten back on track?

The Braves had a tough task in replacing fan favorite Rafael Furcal, but Edgar Renteria proved to be a solid acquisition. In the continuing series on the top questions facing the Braves this winter, The Braves Show's Bill Shanks talks about the veteran shortstop.

When the Braves acquired Edgar Renteria from Boston last December, they were clearly gambling that he could return to his All-Star status in the National League. And if one season is an indication, their gamble paid off.

Renteria returned to the All-Star Game and had a very good season. He was the solid player the Braves wanted to replace Rafael Furcal, who bolted for Los Angeles last winter. Renteria wasn't spectacular, but he was solid, and that's just what the Braves expected.

Almost everyone in baseball knew that the Renteria we saw in Boston in 2005 was a mirage. He was obviously unhappy and did not adjust well to the American League. He was simply a better player than the one that took the field in Fenway Park.

Early on Braves' fan were thrilled with the Renteria that was back in the National League. He hit .365 in April, including a 23-game hitting streak to start the season. Before the All-Star Break, Renteria was at .318 with 9 home runs and 35 RBI in 79 games.

The terrific first half landed Renteria his fifth assignment in an All-Star Game. He cooled down in the second half, hitting only .264 to ruin his chances at hitting .300, but the overall numbers were much similar to what he had done in his last few years in St. Louis than his lone season in Boston.

Defensively, Renteria decreased his errors from the 30 he had in 2005 to only 13. He had averaged just over 15 errors in his last three seasons with the Cardinals. So this season was much more reflective of the solid defense Renteria can play compared with 2005. He doesn't have the best range in the world, but he makes most of the plays he gets to.

Renteria is just steady. He's a steady hitter. He's a steady base runner. He's a defensive player. He's just steady. He proved to be exactly what the Braves thought he would be when they got him in exchange for Andy Marte.

There is no reason to believe Renteria will not continue to be the same type player for the next two (or three) years. He's very happy in Atlanta, and happy to be back in the National League. He somewhat proved that as long as he's happy, he's going to be productive.

It is good, however, that the Braves are only paying him $6 million dollars. He's a good player, a steady player, but not an outstanding player. He might make a few All-Star teams, but the Braves are paying him about what he's worth. The market for shortstops has exploded over the last few years and Renteria cashed in – and rightfully so. But with the Red Sox paying a chunk of his contract, the Braves have him for the right price.

With the possibility of having a new (and even a rookie) second baseman next season, Renteria's presence will be even more important. Bobby Cox loves his veterans, and he'll count heavily on Renteria next season if the Braves break in a new double play partner for him. Plus, with the chance that Andruw Jones might be dealt, Renteria's veteran leadership with the Latin players could be more important as well.

The Braves are grooming a terrific young shortstop in Elvis Andrus, who at 18 is still a few years away from the big leagues. He could easily take over for Renteria in a few years when Renteria's contract is up. But until then, the Braves are happy that they'll have a steady player in a position that has always been crucial to the team.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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