I know we are supposed to be talking all Mitchell Report, all the time, but I just wanted to take a moment out to ask: is anyone besides me surprised that David Eckstein just signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for only 1 year, $4.5 million?

eck.jpgI mean, for weeks it has been widely reported that Eckstein has been seeking a 4-year, $36 million dollar contract, and has been comparing himself favorably to Julio Lugo. I’m not sure anyone really expected Eckstein to get that kind of money, but it seemed reasonable to expect that he would at least get something in the ballpark of $7-8 million a year.

While it’s true that Eckstein has been sort of a running joke in the sabermetric community, it seemed reasonable to assume that someone would give him more money than Paul Lo Duca. After all, this is a guy who is legendary for his “intangibles,” “character,” and “grit,” beloved by the mainstream press, was a key member of two World Series winning squads, has a World Series MVP on his resume, and batted a career high .309 last season.

Although Eckstein did have some injury woes last season, appearing in only 117 games, he seems to be perfectly healthy now, and I figured that SOME team would give him a reasonably excessive contract, especially given the always high demand for middle infielders.

All in all, I’d have to say this is actually a pretty smart deal for the Blue Jays, given the price. Although incumbent shortstop John McDonald was one of the better fielding shortstops in baseball last season, he was absolutely abominable at the plate, maintaining his horrendous career 4:1 K:BB ratio while posting a seppuku-worthy .279 OBP and hitting only 1 home run all season.

ecksteintequila.jpgEckstein can be expected to improve on McDonald’s OPB by almost 100 points, so even despite the hit the Jays take on defense, he represents a huge upgrade at shortstop, at an extremely modest price. And with only a one-year deal, the Jays are not locked in to Eckstein’s later-30s decline years, and can look for an even better option at short next offseason.

So even though the Blue Jays are typically thought of as a “Moneyball” type team which would not be expected to sign anti-Moneyball poster-boy David Eckstein, cheers to JP Riccardi for pulling of this very reasonable, even ingenious move.

Think of it this way: the Red Sox are going to pay Julio Lugo $10 million next season. Was Eckstein really so crazy to compare himself to Lugo? Given that Lugo and Eckstein are actually about the same on most defensive metrics, who would you rather have batting in your lineup? 32-year-old Eckstein and his .351 career OPB plus 5 million extra dollars, or 32-year-old Julio Lugo and his career .333 OBP, minus $5 million?

11 Responses to “Lest we forget, David Eckstein not actually terrible”

  1. You stay classy, San Diego!

    Glavine just went back to the Braves so he could retire there. He’s obviously going into the Hall of Fame as a Brave, not as a Met.

  2. Coley Ward says:

    I have no problem with Glavine going back to the Braves. And I have no problem with him leaving money on the table. But I do have a problem with him pretending that he’s only making $8 million. He got a $3 million buyout from the Mets. That counts!

  3. Coley,
    Did you notice Crashburn’s perspective on Aaron Rowand? They seemed to think he’s definitely behind Hunter offensively. Rowand may actually get a better deal than Jones due to the fact that he’s coming off a career year offensively. People seem to overrate Rowand’s defense, disregarding his propensity to run into walls and teammates. The team that signs Rowand is going to get the least player for their money.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Regarding Rowand’s propensity to run into walls and teammates, it’s funny how some people consider than an attribute, while others consider it a flaw.

    Regarding Rowand’s offense, I think he’s probably overrated by some sports writers, but obviously not by the majority of online baseball bloggers, at least not the ones I read. I think he’s obviously not worth the kind of money Torii Hunter just got.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Otis Nixon! Thanks, Coley, for the Otis Nixon Update! I didn’t even realize how much I had missed him and his crazy pulled-up socks until I saw this post. Ahhhhhh Otis. During his brief stint with the Red Sox, when he was approximately 487 years old, they still had those old-timey stripey white and blue knee socks. Those were the days. The days when I wrapped myself in velour and drizzled cheap whiskey on typewriters….

  6. Otis Nixon actually looks too young in that picture! My memories of Otis from his brief stint as a Dodger were of an utterly dessicated husk of a man.

  7. Man, that Crashburn Alley piece is great – I came away completely convinced that Andruw is actually by far the best of the 3 CFs. Sadly, my Dodgers are probably the team MOST likely to overpay for exceedingly mediocre Aaron Rowand.

  8. You’re right that it’s not a bad deal by any stretch of the imagination. I still don’t think that Eckstein will help much if at all.

    Anybody have any idea how FieldTurf (the Rogers Centre uses it, I think) tends to handle groundballs? Faster? Slower?

    He might be an upgrade over McDonald, but that’s not a compliment to David. It’s a condemnation to McDonald. But we’ll have to wait and see if moving to the AL will severely affect Eckstein’s numbers, though.

  9. Most projections have Eckstein returning back to the .270/.340 hitter he was in Anaheim.

    Yeah, I agree that it is no complement to Eckstein to say that he is a big upgrade over John McDonald, but still, he is a big upgrade over John McDonald.

    And given this market, in which the other options at this time were Cezar Izturis and Adam Everett, and given the very favorable terms of the deal, I felt compelled to praise, and praise liberally.

    I mean, yeah, Eckstein is probably going to be only worth about 1 extra win above replacement over the whole season, but that is still 1 win above replacement level, at and McDonald was actually below replacement level.

  10. I know this is only one metric of evaluation (and pretty much everything else agrees with you), but surprisingly, Runs Above Average favors MacDonald, who was -12 runs on offense but 20 runs on defense. Eckstein was 2 on offense but -7 on defense. Just throwing that out there.

  11. Alejandro Leal says:

    ugh, drinking Cuervo straight from the bottle… how can people submit themselves to that kind of torture?!?!

    be classy, people, drink patron…

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