Blue Jays Sign The X Factor

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.

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  • Here’s my take on Eckstein:

    He is quite possibly the most overrated player in baseball because people say “gritty” and “scrappy” and “smart” when they really just mean “short.” Eckstein is a slap-and-run guy who does all of the little things and not many of the big things: He’s got a short swing and isn’t strong, so he hits for very little power, and he’s never drawn many walks. He’s a bad defensive shortstop, and given his age he’s likely to get worse.

    Eckstein is a much better hitter than John McDonald, but he’s still not a very good hitter. McDonald may very well be the best defensive shortstop in the game.

    So the question is this – would you rather spend the money to bring in a shortstop who will give you an extra 40-60 points in slugging-free on-base percentage, or stick with the guy who you know is not going to hit as well, but will give you outstanding defense?

    My answer is: Johnny Mac. After looking at his defensive contributions as an everyday player last year, I think that he makes the answer easy. As difficult as it is to overlook the fact that Eckstein’s career obp (.351) is 72 points higher than McDonald’s, it’s not like Eck adds even a few extra doubles, let alone home runs, and the dropoff in defense is much greater than the improvement in offense. Yes, Eckstein is hustle-y and grittacious, but so is Johnny Mac, he’s just not as short and doesn’t look like he’s putting every last ounce of his body weight into every throw that he makes.

  • Would I be a bad dude if I posted an Eckstein article? I had one about 90% done in draft mode when I saw this post.

  • post it up pretty boy

  • Early, with putting Eck back at the 8 or 9 (which isn’t all that bad of an idea), what would your 2008 batting order be? (provided that Zaun isn’t in the clink)