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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blue Jays - Signed Eckstein

Toronto Blue Jays - Signed SS David Eckstein to a 1-year, $4.5 million contract.

I’m actually a little surprised by this.  With plenty of money in play and plenty of remarkable players to throw said money at, I had figured that Eckstein would have attracted more attention.  After all, he’s small and scrappy

and white

, was an All-Star in 2005 and 2006, has two ringz, and a WS MVP to boot.

Eckstein may not be a star and he may occasionally be accosted by grocery store security guards that think he’s a lost child or captured by drunks thinking he will lead them to a pot of gold or marshmallow-shapes-and-oat-based cereal, but the Jays are a team that couldn’t even get a .600 OPS out of their shortstops in 2007 and sorely needed offensive help anywhere they could find it.  John McDonald is a much better defensive shortstop than Eckstein, but Mac is also one of the lousiest hitters around.  Eckstein is not really a bad defensive shortstop, just generally unimpressive thanks to a weak arm.  Shortstops are as a group, excellent defenders and there’s only so much room to make up ground by crazily charging every grounder.  Perhaps the Jays can heavily rotate in McDonald when Halladay or Litsch are pitching?  They’re both groundballers and the expected runs needed are lower.  For a brief period, between the time the ‘86 Mets realized for good that Kevin Mitchell wasn’t a SS and when they realized that George Foster was like their 7th-best outfielder, the Mets did something similar and used Kevin Mitchell in games that had lower run-scoring requirements or Sid Fernandez on the mound.  Eckstein’s much better than Mitchell, don’t get me wrong.

Can’t complain about a 1-year contract for practically anyone player above replacement level, to be honest, and Eckstein is an upgrade.

2008 ZiPS Projection - David Eckstein
——————————————————————————————————————-
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS+
——————————————————————————————————————-
Projection   491 68 136 20 2   3 36 32 40   7 .277 .335 .344   80
——————————————————————————————————————-
Opt. (15%)  527 85 157 25 2   3 55 40 37 12 .298 .364 .370   94  
Pes. (15%)  393 45 103 14 0   0 30 18 38   4 .262 .302 .298   59
——————————————————————————————————————-
Top Offensive Comps:  Bill Russell, Dick Groat, Verne Troyer

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: December 20, 2007 at 03:44 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 20, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2650685)
Can we get a projection on his "grit" and "knowing how to play the game the right way"?
   2. zonk Posted: December 20, 2007 at 05:29 PM (#2650690)
Can we get a projection on his "grit" and "knowing how to play the game the right way"?


Aren't those metrics still part of ESPN's proprietary player ranking stat? You remember... the one with that used the highly scientific 100 monkeys pushing random buttons on a keypad methodology?
   3. J. Michael Neal Posted: December 20, 2007 at 05:30 PM (#2650691)
He signed with Toronto. Playing the game the right way means wearing skates.
   4. zonk Posted: December 20, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2650700)
Actually, I think ESPNInsider has a free preview thing going on where you can see portions of his grit ranking. Contractually, I cannot share too much, but Eckstein's "play the game the right way" score is severely hampered by his low jump-and-throw totals.


...and btw... I still get giggles recalling that Mitchell, who once squashed an exercise bike under his considerable girth, actually came up as a quasi-SS. Good times.
   5. a wider scope of derision Posted: December 20, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2650741)
Perhaps the Jays can heavily rotate in McDonald when Halladay or Litsch are pitching? They're both groundballers and the expected runs needed are lower.


Yeah, the problem with that is...

Burnett 54.8 GB%
Halladay 53.1 GB%
McGowan 53.0 GB%
Litsch 48.1 GB%
Marcum 40.2 GB%

So basically you're saying Eckstein should only start when Marcum is pitching? (And then McDonald should come in for the 9th for Accardo.)
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 20, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2650749)
If you could combine Eckstein's winningness, McDonald's finesse, Mitchell's brutishness and Scutaro's clutchiness you might have something.
   7. UCCF Posted: December 20, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2650795)
No love for the Verne Troyer comp?

Well done.
   8. The Essex Snead Posted: December 20, 2007 at 06:33 PM (#2650800)
No love for the Verne Troyer comp?

FREE HERVE VILLECHAIZE
   9. TheBoneMan Posted: December 20, 2007 at 06:41 PM (#2650815)
It's really too bad that the Jays didn't just sign Adam Everett. He's not a much better hitter than MacDonald, but he's the White Ozzie Smith with the leather and would have fit in really well with the groundballin' staff that the Jays have assembled. MacDonald had a great year with the glove last year, but that seems to me to be a bit a fluke (he's generally good, not great like he was last year). An Everett/Scutaro combination would make a great deal more sense for the Jays than an Eckstein/MacDonald combo (although there is admittedly little overall difference between those two duos).

Perhaps the Jays can heavily rotate in McDonald when Halladay or Litsch are pitching?


Word in Toronto is that Litsch is likely to be starting the year in the minors, with Casey Janssen shifting from the pen to the rotation. Probably for the best, since Litsch's debut screamed fluke (look at his peripherals - BRUTAL!!!).
   10. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 20, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2650973)
No, I'd start Eckstein most of the time because he's not a brutal defender. But I'd strongly consider starting McDonald when Halladay or Burnett's pitching and the opposing pitcher is below-average.
   11. KJOK Posted: December 21, 2007 at 01:54 AM (#2651254)
...and btw... I still get giggles recalling that Mitchell, who once squashed an exercise bike under his considerable girth, actually came up as a quasi-SS. Good times
.

I get the same when I think of Dmitri Young coming up as a SS at least thru A ball - by AA they had moved him to 3B IIRC...
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 21, 2007 at 08:47 PM (#2651771)
Its weird to think of Ron Gant, Danny Tartabull, or Gary Sheffield as infielders.

I had this conversation on another board - doesn't it seem like African-American shortstops and third basemen frequently get moved to the outfield?
   13. alskor Posted: December 22, 2007 at 06:35 PM (#2652183)
Can we get a projection on his "grit" and "knowing how to play the game the right way"?


I cant find a source but I could have sworn I saw ESPN list him at "3.4 kilojeters"


Oh wait... actually, it might have been 1.21 jigawatts...
   14. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 22, 2007 at 07:38 PM (#2652237)
Has Eckstein ever cut the head off of a cat?
   15. MSI Posted: December 22, 2007 at 09:35 PM (#2652338)
Let's face it. The Blue Jays are now one of Canada's worst hockey teams. And they keep hitting around a wrong colour and shaped puck, too.

It seems Eckstein is a bit better than Scutaro, though Scutaro also has a similar 700-ish career OPS. However, Eckstein hasn't played nearly a full season the last few years, and nor does McDonald have either...So with leveraging in McDonald in late innings, and with Scutaro covering 3b when Glaus goes down, or even acting as the 5th OF...I can see 700 at bats going to these three players, which is better offensively than McDonald, Royce Clayton, and the other army of crappy shorstops the Jays marched out there last year. The offense will be better as a whole as well.
   16. kwarren Posted: December 24, 2007 at 01:23 AM (#2652840)
I had this conversation on another board - doesn't it seem like African-American shortstops and third basemen frequently get moved to the outfield?

Is there a point to this or are you attributing this trend to coincidence, assuming that there even is a trend. Is there any data to suggest a trend? After all Yount and Chipper Jones went to the outfield. I don't think they are African-American.

If African-American shortstops and third basemen are really moved to the outfield more often than non-African-Americans what would be the rationale behind it?
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 24, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2652850)
Not really a point. Just an observation. Didn't think I was touching such a nerve. The conversation I was having was that there are very few African-American third basemen in the league period, and I was just thinking that the few African-American infielders I had seen were usually moved to the outfield shortly thereafter. I have no idea why.
   18. kwarren Posted: December 24, 2007 at 01:34 PM (#2652994)
doesn't it seem like African-American shortstops and third basemen frequently get moved to the outfield?

Just an observation. Didn't think I was touching such a nerve. I was just thinking that the few African-American infielders I had seen were usually moved to the outfield shortly thereafter. I have no idea why.

Why are you basing your baseball observations on players skin colour, if you don't think it is in some way pertinent to their value or ability as infielders. I suspect that if a lot of the infielders who were moved to the outfield all had the same birth months, or were largely from Western states you would not have have been cogent enough to make the same type of observation. Or if you did, I doubt that you would have felt it was worth commenting on. You would likely have simply dismissed it as a coincidence, and rightly so, and thought nothing more of it. But when the distinction happens to be skin colour, you not only observe it but also comment on it as if it is not a coincidence, as though it likely has significance of some kind or other. In other words it sticks in your mind as something with relevance or significance.

I just don't see the point or the need of basing our observations of baseball players on their skin colour and then commenting on perceived differences between African-American players and non-African-American players. Why don't you categorize them by birth month, or first letter of last name, or number of siblings. I really can't imagine that skin colour is any more relevant than those differences would be.

Unless I am missing your point, you are making a racial distinction for absolutely no reason. And yes, this does touch a nerve, as it should. And even worse you are offering no evidence at all that such a distinction does in fact exist, nor offering up any rationale for why a "real" difference between the races could lead to this distinction. Which would after all be a valid reason for bringing this up in the first place.
   19. a bebop a rebop Posted: December 25, 2007 at 06:18 AM (#2653314)
I just don't see the point or the need of basing our observations of baseball players on their skin colour and then commenting on perceived differences between African-American players and non-African-American players.


I don't know if this is the sort of inflammatory post #1 Fan would even want to reply to... but the fact is that everybody sees everybody else through a lens of color, and therefore it is possible that black infielders who are poor defenders are more likely to be moved to the outfield than white infielders who are poor defenders. It's not hugely important, but it is the sort of thing we might want to pay some attention to.
   20. theboyqueen Posted: December 25, 2007 at 07:13 AM (#2653320)
What is your birth month, kwarren?
   21. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: December 25, 2007 at 07:28 AM (#2653323)
I had this conversation on another board - doesn't it seem like African-American shortstops and third basemen frequently get moved to the outfield?

I'm pretty sure Wily Mo was a 3B once upon a time (He's hispanic, but he's dark skinned)
   22. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: December 25, 2007 at 07:54 AM (#2653324)
see also B.J. Upton

if it touches a nerve, it touches a nerve and kwarren has every right to say that it did and why.
From my perspective though, I didn't read anything racial into what AG#1F wrote. He said it was an observation :of what major league organizations do: and in fact, it was offered initially more as a question. There was certainly nothing prescriptive in what was written - he wasn't advocating that skin color be a basis for moving a player.

Without saying that it's a correct or incorrect practice, there is little doubt that race often affects decision making about individuals. I don't know of any evidence that says that birth month or one's initials does.
(As a non-sports example, when I lived in Columbus Ohio in the 80's for grad school, the police department bought a bunch of ATVs that were used to allow the police to move more quickly within the city than by foot or car. The officers LOVED them, who wouldn't? This was a police department that had been sued successfully for racial discrimination. A friend and I noticed that in warm weather months, you ONLY saw older white males on the ATVs. However, in the winter -when it was 25 and windy and slushy- you tended to see many more young African-American males on the ATVs than whites.)

A bebop makes a good point. If it IS an identifiable trend, it is worth paying attention to. Sheffield may have been a butcher at SS and 3B, but if he had been left there and had a chance to improve, how much more valuable would he have been, and how many millions of dollars could he have made? When the Indians got Graig Nettles from the Twins, he was also a terrible fielder, but the Indians left him at 3rd, he took hundreds of ground balls every day, and became a gold glove caliber fielder.

I am not sure if young African-American infielders are moved to the OF at a greater rate than white infielders (like Mickey Mantle). *IF* they are,then one explanation is that they are objectively worse as a group than Latin or white infielders. It's hard to believe that this is true. Another explanation then is that they aren't any better or worse as fielders, but there is a belief system shared by many organizations (or held in the past) that they are less capable of developing into a decent infielder. If I was a baseball exec, I'd want to know if my coaches and player development people thought that way. Yet another explanation is that as a group they have so much potential offensively, that they are moved early in their careers to get their bats into a major league lineup asap. Again, as a baseball exec, I'd want to know if my organization thinks that way. While this last explanation isn't as potentially derogatory as the 2nd, the outcomes of that type of decision-making could have long-term negative consequences both for the player and the organization by not allowing a great hitter to develop into an adequate or better infielder.
   23. Baldrick Posted: December 25, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2653392)
Paging Randal. Randal to the Eckstein discussion...
   24. kwarren Posted: December 27, 2007 at 03:18 PM (#2654220)
Black men can't field.

Sort of like the notion that "Red Sox fans can't think objectively", a concept that is continually validated on this site.
   25. Rusty Priske Posted: January 01, 2008 at 04:41 PM (#2657879)
Personally I think that IF there is truth to the statement that black players are moved to the outfield, then I think the question would not be 'why aren't black players good fielders' but rather 'why does management think black players aren't good fielders?'
   26. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 01, 2008 at 06:37 PM (#2657911)
Please, PLEASE. Let's stick to the tried and true stereotypes. They can't skate and they can't swim. Love watermelon. Can field.

What about little jewish guys not being good athletes? Eckstein blows THAT outta the water, don't he? And stuff.
   27. The Answer to the TWolves (GMoney) Posted: January 01, 2008 at 06:50 PM (#2657915)
Ozzie Smith was black and he could field so I'd say a black man can play infield just fine. Now I'm off to KFC to get me some fried chicken and grits...yum.
   28. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: January 01, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#2657929)
A friend and I noticed that in warm weather months, you ONLY saw older white males on the ATVs. However, in the winter -when it was 25 and windy and slushy- you tended to see many more young African-American males on the ATVs than whites.)

That is probably not racism, but the lingering effects of past racism. The department most likely allowed officers to choose assignments based on seniority. Since the department had practiced racial discrimination in the past, the effect was that senior officers were almost all white. The court order ending discrimination probably forced the department to hire more black recruits, thus the disproportionate amount of young, black ATV officers in the winter.
   29. DCW3 Posted: January 01, 2008 at 07:40 PM (#2657950)
What about little jewish guys not being good athletes? Eckstein blows THAT outta the water, don't he?

Uber-Aryan David Eckstein? Jewish? Uh, no.
   30. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 01, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2657973)
Uh, I know. It was part of the schtick. And stuff.

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