David Eckstein Signing Analysis
One of the main issues with Eckstein (outside of his fielding) is his almost across the board declines.
When Eck first came up in 2001, he had a reputation as big time base stealer. This has declined in essentially every season since his debut. Another sign of his declining speed can be found in the triples category, with a grand total of one triple over the past two seasons.
The batting average is nice but the OBP is nothing to write home about. His lack of pop hurts in an AL order, especially the AL East, although he will the true leadoff hitter that the Blue Birds lacked last season.
We can also see that David is averaging just 120 games over the past two seasons. I would have to say that the last thing the Jays need is another injury prone old man. However, I really can’t fault a one year contract at $4.5 million in today’s environment too much. Eckstein appears to be on the decline offensively and even so he provides a drastic improvement over Macdonald. One question that many will pose is: Will Eckstein’s bat be enough to make up for his glove?
Eckstein Fielding Stats:
McDonald Fielding Stats:
Of importance is the number of innings played by both, with Eckstein logging 18% more time in the field. That point alone will show that McDonald was far more productive in the field, as he is slightly behind David in PO & A, despite playing 18% less. He converted more DP (although Hill’s presence helped) and had a better fielding percentage by 22 points, which is a huge difference in FP. The range factor and especially the Zone Rating are largely in favor of McDonald.
Outside of this, the Hardball times has a stat called OOZ (Out of Zone) for balls hit outside of a positions typical Zone. Eckstein had a total of 46, McDonald had 51.
From a statistical standpoint, the answer appears to be McDonald is far superior. I’m not going to delve into win share points on the offensive or defensive side of the equation. It is clear that Eckstein is a much better option with the bat (although both knocked in only 31 RBI in 2007) and McDonald has the clear advantage with the glove.
From an anecdotal viewpoint, the Jays still have a fairly young and inexperienced pitching staff. Will the lose of McDonald’s far ranging plays effect the success and on-field mindsets of the youngsters? I think this could become a stronger issue than the statistics will point to.
I will hardly bestow a best of free agent acquisitions award to this signing. The fact that this is a one year deal makes it easier to swallow and the presence of McDonald does create flexibility if David does not produce. I do have to question how honest Toronto management was to McDonald when resigning him and then relegating him to a back-up role. That aside, on the whole I’d give this signing a slightly negative rating, with the rating having more to do with the teams existing personal.
One organizational question that this transaction begs is why trade for Scutaro? Now the Jays have three middle infielders. Also in the mix is a player I’m not sold on, but one that deserves at least a shot after his late 2007 production, one Russ Adams. Adams aside, the Jays are going to have to pay Scutaro $3+ million after his arbitration hearing, the main reason that the A’s traded him in the first place.
Now the Jays have $4.5 in Eckstein, $1.9 in McDonald and $3+ million in Scuatro for a rough SS total of close to $9.5 million. This will for most likely yield (on a year end basis based upon a mixture of all parties stats and attributes) an average fielding and under-performing offensive shortstop.
It would appear to most (and certainly to me) that JP needs to get a better handle on his financial resources and his organizational planning. A GM with a proper team vision would not have allowed himself to get into this situation. It’s as if he’s making it up as he goes along.