David Eckstein a Blue Jay
JP Ricciardi signed a free agent yesterday. Not a bad one but worth a closer look.
Eckstein is not a very good player. He had been an All-Star twice but has has never had an OPS over .800 and .979 fielder (only .960 last year). He is incredibly small, 5′ 6″ and 170lbs. However, he is a much better option than the no-hit John McDonald.
He might have trouble coming back to the AL. His fielding might suffer or it may improve playing on turf, where he hasn’t set foot on in 2 year he may play 90-95 games on turf in 2008. He has been ok hitting in the NL, hitting in the high .290s compared to the mid .270s while with the Angels. He has no power.
LaRussa used him in the leadoff spot last year but he is a fool and Eckstein should bat 8th or 9th for the Jays. Eckstein has lots of experience in the playoffs and may have better press than usual as he was the 2006 WS MVP. His contract with the Jays is reasonable as he comes at half the price of similarly skilled and aged Julio Lugo, who the Jays were interested in last season. His fielding average is the same as John McDonald but he probably won’t make as many highlight reel plays.
The big key to compare these players offensivley is McDonalds terrible 4:1 K:BB ratio. McDonald also has a 3:2 H:K lifetime ratio and has had several years in which he has struck out more than he has reached safely. Eckstein has about an equal K:BB ratio and has a 3:1 H:K ratio. Eckstein’s OBP can be expected to be 100 points better than McDonalds. Neither one has much punch.
Eckstein has played 145+ games in only one of his last five seasons. McDonald has never played that much but can be expected to get lots of time as Eckstein’s wee body will surely not be able to keep up with a full ML schedule.
JP made a good signing in this case at this point, in my opinion.