Jays add Eckstein

EcksteinTORONTO – The Blue Jays have reached an agreement with shortstop David Eckstein on a one-year deal worth $4.5 million.

Eckstein, who took home Wolrd Series MVP honors for the Cardinals in 2006, will likely move into the Blue Jays’ starting shortstop role, which was filled by veteran John McDonald. Toronto signed McDonald to a two-year, $3.8 million in September, and the club gave no hint that they were looking for a new shortstop this winter.

With Eckstein in the fold, McDonald — better known for his defensive gems than his bat — would probably return to a reserve role. The 31-year-old Eckstein would also be a candidate to move into the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays, who cycled through various players in that spot last year.

Last season, Eckstein posted a .309 average with three home runs, 31 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for St. Louis, which signed him to a three-year deal worth $10.25 million prior to the 2005 campaign. Eckstein, who is a two-time World Series champion, owns a career on-base percentage of .351.

57 Comments

For a complete listing of potential non-tendered free agents go to the following url:

http://www.mlb4u.com/non07.php

If we pick up Eckstein, I wonder what our plans are for Macdonald? I mean we also now have Scutaro…..Reed Johnson will no dout be on the trade market. Maybe we could ship him out in a package for a decent pitcher. I still like Johnson though, and if I knew for sure he would return to form in 08, I would keep him over Eckstein in a heart beat. But the fact is I or the Jays don’t know for sure, so it will be interesting how the Jays play this one out.

I’m not sure what I think of Eckstein. On the one hand, the Jays really need someone who can hit at the top of the order. But Eckstein? I mean, he’s put up some decent numbers and, yeah, he’s “plucky”, but at the same time, his career OBP is .351. Also, from what I’ve read, his defense can be a little “suspect”….

I dunno. I guess if it’s a short term deal (one or two years) for not a lot of money, it will be a good stop gap solution for that gaping leadoff spot hole.

And in other news, the Rocket’s the first to be blown up by the Mitchell report:

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071213.wsptmitch13/GSStory/GlobeSportsBaseball/home

Good news: The Rocket is grounded.

Bad news: the trainer the story mentions was the Jays strength coach and followed Clemens to NY, unless I’m mistaken, which could mean many Jays from the mid 90’s could be named.

Eckstein is coming off a 3 year-10 million dollar contract. He only played in 117 games last year due to what seems to have been a recuring lower back injury.

It will be interesting to see, if we do sign him, what the length of the deal and terms will be. He turns 33 in January.

And although I realize the Lincecum ship has sailed, here’s an interesting break down of his delivery by a scout who I think works with the Diamondbacks:

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/mechanics/discussion/controlled_fury_tim_lincecum/

When it comes to Eckstein, I’m wondering if he’s really that much better of an option than a healthy Reed Johnson. It’s a tough call, because other than his career year in 2006, Johnson hasn’t had a spectacular career. At least Eckstein has shown some consistency, even if his numbers aren’t spectacular either.

Also, if the Jays get Eckstein, doesn’t that create a bit of a logjam with him, McDonald, and Scutaro? I mean, how many 30 something right-handed hitting infielders to the Jays need?

Upon thinking about it, I find the Eckstein potential signing to be strange. Frankly the whole story caught me off guard because it’s not a piece I feel we need.

We already have Johnny Mac and Scuturo-do we really need 3 right hand batting 30+ shortstops? Is Eckstein’s additional BA over MacDonald better to have than Macdonald’s excellent defense?

Personally, I don’t think so, ss is a defensive position and Johnny Mac is as good as it gets.

I agree that the move is odd. I was quite content with our infield after JP signed McDonald to his 2-year deal.

I have to wonder whether this might be a sign that something bigger is afoot in the infield.. potentially involving Glaus (no pun intended).

gsumner:

Huh. Looks like you and I are actually agreeing on something!

Hem

Wow-we better not make that a habit. lol

dweaver:

I thought about that, too, whether this potential signing means the Jays might have something on the backburner concerning Glaus.

But, I dunno, what team is actually desperate enough to deal for an expensive, broken-down third basemen like Glaus?

Watching baesball’s reaction to the Mitchell report will be like watching a soap opera.

If Clemens is mentioned in the report, I wonder if baseball has the balls to put an asterisk beside all his Cy Young awards?

Hey, what’s good enough for Bonds HAS got to be good enough for the Rocket; but don’t hold your breath cause it won’t happen. Roger is a great white hope, Bonds isn’t.

It’s official. One year, 4.5 million:

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071213.wsptjays13_2/GSStory/GlobeSportsBaseball/home

All in all, I think it’s an odd signing, but you really can’t complain too much about a one year contract….

This is a very weird deal. Personally i never liked Eckstein, but, we did look like we needed a second option for leadoff once Reed got hurt.

So, what bugged me most though is that we non-tendered Towers !? So we kept him on the roster, lost Gronk, or houston ? Just so we could non-tender towers later ??? Don’t get me wrong, im glad towers is gone, but kinda ***** to lose two players for nothing. Or, maybe im not interpreting the situation right.

Do we have room now to grab Olivio for our backup catching role ??? or Estrada ? They got non tendered, and Olivio throws out 33% of those fools who try to steal from him. Estrada gives bases away though worse then Zaun, but can hit !

Yeah, now the Gronk deal looks stupid.

I like the Eckstein numbers though.

On Bonds: What asterisk?

MLB hasn’t put any asterisk on his acomplishments.

The asterisk on the ball was put there by the fans.

I do think the fans will view Clemens differently now.

I won’t . . . but’s that’s because I already believed he was a user long before today.

Will people care as much? No, but Clemens doesn’t hold the greatest record in all of sport.

this list from danshanoff.com

doesn’t say where he got it, so I don’t know if it’s legit.

UPDATE: Brady Anderson, Manny Alexander, Rick Ankiel, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Rafaeil Bettancourt, Bret Boone, Milton Bradley, David Bell, Dante Bichette, Albert Belle, Paul Byrd, Wil Cordero, Ken Caminiti, Mike Cameron, Ramon Castro, Jose and Ozzie Canseco, Roger Clemens, Paxton Crawford, Wilson Delgado, Lenny Dykstra, Johnny Damon, Carl Everett, Kyle Farnsoworth, Ryan Franklin, Troy Glaus, Rich Garces, Jason Grimsley, Juan Gonzalez, Eric Gagne, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Jose Guillen, Jay Gibbons, Juan Gonzalez, Clay Hensley, Jerry Hairston, Felix Heredia, Jr., Darren Holmes, Wally Joyner, Darryl Kile, Matt Lawton, Raul Mondesi, Mark McGwire, Guillermo Mota, Robert Machado, Damian Moss, Abraham Nunez, Trot Nixon, Jose Offerman, Andy Pettitte, Mark Prior, Neifi Perez, Rafael Palmiero, Albert Pujols, Brian Roberts, Juan Rincon, John Rocker, Pudge Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Scott Schoenweiis, David Segui, Alex Sanchez, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, Julian Tavarez,Fernando Tatis, Maurice Vaughn, Jason Varitek, Ismael Valdez, Matt Williams and Kerry Wood.

If true the Big names we haven’t heard before: Damon, Gagne, Garciapara, Varitek, Pujols

dave

Come on, JP has just got the Xmas spirit. lol

Keeps Towers and Houston on the 40 man roster and losses Ty and Gronk. Well Boston and Pittsburgh needed the help.

Gets an offer to trade Towers to San Diego and states, “San Diego aren’t offering enough. Then, he non-tenders Towers, allowing San Diego to sign him with no compensation. Hey anything to help Josh get settled in a new home.

Let’s both Ty and Gronk go, pays Chicago $50K for Wells, who won’t last on our 40 man roster through spring training. Well, Da Cubbies can use the money to pay Pinella’s fines next year-besides Ted has tons-whats the problem.

Offers Rios to San Fran, story leaks to the press, looses the deal and now needs to say sorry Rios-can we still be long term friends????

Has the best defensive ss in baseball and signs Epstein.-Well somebody had too give Epstein a job and no one else was offering, and JM is used to being a sub.

You gotta admit, JP is certainly in the giving mood at the moment-or is he just having a bad hair week?

I find it interesting that the Jays only signed Eckstein for one year. Does anybody know who the shortstop free agents are going to be next year?

Looks like Greg Zaun’s in the report….

I don’t like this signing at all. This isn’t as bad as the Royce Clayton signing, but close. Jmac IS the best defensive shortstop in the league and now he gets to prove himself a starter for the third straight year. I realize he may not be the best offensive shortstop in the game but he has the ability to win games on defense with his athleticism and his great mind on the field. Not much gets by him because he goes all out, but more importantly, he puts himself in the right position to field the ball on every play. I say at least give him some time with Denbo to see if he can make a .270 hitter out of him (which should be all we need if the rest of the lineup can actually hit this year. lol). My prediction: Macdonald reclaimes his rightfull spot at short by the all star break.

Howie Clark and Glenallen Hill, too….

Contrary to the popular opinion here, I think the Eckstein signing is a good one – especially when it’s only a year, $4.5 mil deal.
First of all, he’s a significant upgrade over McD offensively – McD’s AVG/OBP was .251/.279 compared to Ecstein’s .309/.356. I think that’s a big enough difference to overcome any defensive downgrade that supposedly comes along with him (especially in the on-base department). Plus, although he might lack the atleticism of McD, Eckstein is not a bad shortstop; in fact, his career fielding percentage is higher than McD’s. Also, I might add that Eckstein doesn’t strike out much and has a base-stealing ability.

Eckstein also provides depth in our leadoff spot. Johnson was the only guy who could leadoff for us in 2007(unless we sacrifced Rios’ production in the middle of the lineup). Now Eckstein can be the leadoff guy when Johnson needs a day off and Stairs takes over at LF or Johnson gets injured (remember the crazy shuffles of the lineup last year after Johnson got injured?).

Finally, Eckstein brings lots of intangibles to the team. Despite his small frame and sheepish look, he is one of the most competitive guys on the field. Everyone who commented about Eckstein referrs to him as “winner,” and, why not, he is a winner – he won the world series with two different teams (LAA and STL), winning the world series MVP honor in 2006.

I think these merits can only help the jays. what’s not to like when these come at $4.5/1 year?

Eckstein signing although strange isn’t a bad idea.Maybe there is more to happen that will make it all fall into place. However, JP’s handling of Ty and Gronk by leaving them off the roster and protecting Towers and Houston just to now let them go has got me baffled.

caleb

Wwhat you forget is **** is only part of the double play defence, the 2nd baseman is the other. Hill/Macdonald were really starting to gell and make some remarkable plays. I think they hit the replay reel just about every day in August/September.

Going to Eikstein is going from the best defensive shortstop in the AL to one of the worst in baseball. It’s not only about fielding percentage.

Having him start is going to dramatically impact our defense. Forget about his errors-it will be all about the double plays not achieved with him/Hill via comparision to JM/Hill.

It’s a dumb deal-period.

To me, a great defensive player can be an everyday player – only if he can produce adequate offensive numbers. John McDonald is a great defensive player and I love him for that. But his bat is just not cut out to be an everyday force in the lineup. A career OBP of .279? It just horrifies me to think he is our everyday guy.

Eckstein, on the other hand, carries an adequate glove with far superior offensive numbers to JMac’s. Now that’s an everyday guy.

John MacDonald is a great backup, super-utility guy who can occasionally spell the starter or come in as late-inning defensive substitute – he definitely is not an everyday player.

(Just like Adam Everett, who I think has been the best NL shortstop in the past few years. But he was non-tendered after the Astros got Tejada. Why? he flat-out can’t hit!!!)

first off why are we worried about ty and gronk still…..let them go people….They were horrible and we would have gotten nothing in return anyways. Plus Riccardi cannot tell the future so everyone makes these kind of moves or lack of this time of year. The fact is we have a great bullpen now and especially with BJ back.
The ekstien deal is great. one year and a little more then J-Mac. Yes his defense is not up to par with J-Mac but honestly…a 309 average….that means he will put in that many more runs when hes up over Jonny mac who was the equivalent of a national league pitcher in that department. Remember to that J-Mac was injured and needed surgery recently so maybe riccardi doesnt feel comfortable with his progress just yet. Good move.

first off why are we worried about ty and gronk still…..let them go people….They were horrible and we would have gotten nothing in return anyways. Plus Riccardi cannot tell the future so everyone makes these kind of moves or lack of this time of year. The fact is we have a great bullpen now and especially with BJ back.
The ekstien deal is great. one year and a little more then J-Mac. Yes his defense is not up to par with J-Mac but honestly…a 309 average….that means he will put in that many more runs when hes up over Jonny mac who was the equivalent of a national league pitcher in that department. Remember to that J-Mac was injured and needed surgery recently so maybe riccardi doesnt feel comfortable with his progress just yet. Good move.

I agree with Caleb and Jordan on this one. I think it’s a nice addition to the club. It’s only 1 year, so if Eckstein happens to struggle John Mcdonald (and his excellent defense) will always be in his shadow waiting to take over.

by the way Ekstien had 100 more at bats then jonny mac and he still had half the strike outs.
Ekstien 434 AB with 22 SO

J Mac 327 AB with 48 SO

That will be huge for the fans who like offense.

Riccardi is out of his mind. He says one thing then does another. He said that he wanted to ride Johnny Macs arm for as long as they can. Signing Eckstein is not a good move, J-mac is a great defender and I guarantee you if giving the everyday job his bat will come around. J-Mac is a human highlight reel, If he dosent start after probably having the oportunity to go somewhere else to earn a starting position, that would be a shot to him. We will see what happens. Ricardi ought to be a ashamed of himself. Bad decision.

I’ve always liked Ekstein–mainly because everyone said he’s too small, he can’t run, he can’t hit, he can’t field. Then he ends up as World Series MVP ahead of guys like Puhols. He is one of the hardest nosed players you will see anywhere, and he brings something to the team which you can’t get enough of–desire. Stats and numbers might get you to the playoffs, but once October arrives, the Series goes to the team that wants it the most.

I don’t see why this move doesn’t make the blue jays a better team. Eckstein’s an offensive upgrade, brings intangibles, and stabilizes our lineup by giving us another option at leadoff (which I think is extremely important – seriously, who else is gonna lead off when johnson needs a day off or gets injured?). Plus, it’s not like we are dumping JMac to get this guy. He’s gonna be right there with his magic glove when called upon. If we mix and match those two well at ss, I think we can get the best of both worlds.
It certainly is not a move that will put us over the top. But it betters the team.

caleb

What you forget is a number of our pitchers-Halliday, Marcum, McGowan and Litsch are ground ball out types of pitchers. Eckstein is one of the poorest short stop defenders in baseball. JMac and Hill are the best or close to the best double play combination there is.

That goes away with Eckstein, we lose at both SS and double plays. It’s a ridiculous move that will cost us games.

Of course, if you’re playing for 4th place in the AL east it’s a brilliant move; just like all the others JP has done in the last 2 weeks.

Pathetic

gnorman

I wouldn’t worry about October. With the moves we’re making, there is no way we get there. I just hope we don’t slide to 4th place.

gsumner
I wouldn’t worry about Gronkevich and Taubenheim. They only stood an outside chance of making the team anyway. Worry about who is on the 25 man roster. Ekstein is the kind of player that can make everyone else better. In case you hadn’t noticed, Hill played 160 games last year, and we lacked a legitimate backup for him. By adding Ekstein, MacDonald can add legitimate depth at second as well. And to say that adding Ekstein will make us worse is just plain silly.

gsumner
I am not sure about the accuracy of your link to the non-tendered free agents, since it also lists Hector Luna, Ray Olmedo, and Jason Frasor among that group.

To say that the Eckstein signing is “dumb” or “pathetic” does seem a little harsh. Although I originally wasn’t a fan of the move, I’m starting to come around. A little bit. If anything, at least it gives the Jays some added depth and an option other than Johnson at the leadoff spot. I mean, come on, a one year contract for that kind of money really doesn’t seem like the end of the world, even if you’re not completely sold on the signing.

Also, does the signing of Eckstein likely mean the Jays are seriously shopping Reed Johnson? That seems possible, but then I’m wondering what the Jays could possibly get in return for him. Other than 2006, Reed wasn’t exactly wowing the world of baseball with his high HBP counts and funny way of running….

What ? we didn’t non-tender Jason Frasor ! Did we ?

I like the signing, but honestly, how well will Eckstein aclimate to the AL east ????

He’s facing far superior pitchers who he has never seen before. I don’t see him excelling as a leadoff hitter. He’s no Reggie Willits or Chone Figgins.

Im sure he’ll bring some intangable, like the inspiration he gives to short kids who want to play baseball, but im not convinced he’ll be brining an avg over 3.

Still good point that he can back up 2nd.

Did Towers end up sigining with the Padres ? Would make sense after all. I just really want Riccardi to pick up a back up catcher soon ! If he gets someone good ill forgive him for being a fool.

By signing Eckstein, we addressed one of our biggest weaknesses in 2007 – no offense from SS whatsoever.
Now we have a little bit of offense at short, depth in the infield and the leadoff spot, and a great teammate. Talk about killing multiple birds with one stone – a stone that will weigh our pockets for only a year at $4.5 mil. I see no problem with that. McDonald’s gonna be there to complement Eckstein with his great defense. I say that’s a good combination.

And, yeah, that non-tender website is a little off. John McDonald’s even listed. I think the problem lies with the fact that it hasn’t been updated since September 2nd….

hem:

yeah, as you hinted, Johnson just doesn’t have enough value right now to bring in value. His trade value must be close to zero after last year’s showing. I hope Johnson bounces back this year so we get more out of him if and when we trade him.

gnroman

If you review my post and the web site-it’s POTENTIAL non-tendered free agents.

Here’s MLB.com’s list of non-tendered players:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071212&content_id=2324311&vkey=hotstove2007&fext=.jsp

caleb:

Yeah, I like what Johnson can bring to the team (when he’s healthy). I’m also wondering what trading Johnson would do in LF. Sure, it would allow the Jays to give Lind a shot, but then they’ve got a lefty-lefty platoon with him and Stairs, and that seems a little counter-productive….

You’re right. Since Stairs seems to be very much in the picture next year, it seems logical to keep johnson for now and play Lind everyday in 2009 when Stairs relegates to just a back-up outfielder.

caleb

If you want to contend, you don’t address one problem and create another and in my view,that’s what we’ve done here. Granted, he brings more offense, but the cost of which is significantly lower defense.

The combination of Johnny Mac and Hill saved/won a number of games for us last year, with a pitching staff prone to getting ground ball outs.

Short stop is probably the most important defensive position, and we’ve just went from one of the best to one of the worst.

The difference between a .300 hitter and a .260 hitter is 20 hits over 500 at bats. Will it help-yes; but, the difference between making a double play and not making it,is generally the ball game.

Check this out:

http://actasports.com/sows.php

Which team had the best defense in 2007?

November 30, 2007

In The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2008, I rank the Toronto Blue Jays as the top defensive team of 2007. According to the Plus/Minus System we developed at Baseball Info Solutions, the Blue Jays led the major leagues with a plus/minus score of +92—which means the Jays made 92 more plays than could be expected of the average major league team.

The double play combination of Aaron Hill and John McDonald was especially dazzling. Together they posted a +22 and a +26, respectively, while anchoring Toronto’s middle infield. Hill won the 2007 Fielding Bible Award at second base and McDonald finished third. The corners chipped in +25, the outfield (with 2007 Fielding Bible Award winner Alex Rios) tallied +11, and in the end the Toronto Blue Jays dusted off the competition as the clearcut best team defense in the majors last season.

Here are the top ten defensive teams of 2007, according to the Plus/Minus System:

Team 2007

Plus/Minus

Toronto Blue Jays +92

New York Mets +73

Atlanta Braves +68

Kansas City Royals +66

Arizona Diamondbacks +54

Detroit Tigers +45

Chicago Cubs +36

Hill and Jonny Mac are the best duo in baseball. Just when there chemistry is at its highest, JP goes and switches it up. Why sign Eckstein? Sure his bat is better but I agree with all the ground balls our pictures produce. We need the gold glove of Hill and Johnny Mac out there everyday. Eckstein all around fielding percentage may be better but he hasn’t played all three positions. Johnny Mac prepares hard for every game and his offensive numbers will increase if he his out there everyday. Offense does not always win games. You certainly cant argue that Eckstein is a better bat, But is this really what is best for the Blue Jays? Who the heck Knows? All I know if you come into a game off the bench all the time How can you really improve all aspects of your game?

I wasn’t happy about the Rios deal but I saw the merits of it ,however I don’t see any merit in the signing of Eckstein. His defence is not as good as J Macs and his offence is around the same . I think JP felt the need to make it to look like he was doing something in the off season, he likes to see his name in print . This deal was a waste of 4.5 mil

duane

Fielding percentage is a misleading stat, in that it only takes into consideration the balls, the player gets to and attempts to play. It doesn’t take range into consideration and thats one of the main differences between Johnny Mac and Eckstein-JM gets to more balls.

We have 3 potential gold glovers in the infield with Overbay, Hill and Macdonald. With our pitching staff, these guys are needed and necessary.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed Glaus is good defensively, but his range is limited-JM makes up for that-Eckstein won’t.

Big Difference.

gnorman

We have a backup for 2nd base-a very good one-his name is Marcos Scutaro.

gsumner

I agree with what you are saying. But if JM isn’t out there everyday I think our defense goes down. You are right Glaus is a good third baseman.

I was gonna write a lengthy counter-argument, but I realize it’s just baseball, not Obama vs. Clinton. I also realize it’s past midnight in Toronto – no one’s gonna read it anyway. So I elected to summarize everything I have to say in one simple equation:

Defensive downgrade < Offensive upgrade + depth at infield and leadoff + gritty competitor/winner

Assuming defensive downgrade and offensive upgrade cancel each other out, the other two advantages Eckstein brings make this team better.

Note 1) I assume defense and offense are equally important in deciding the outcome of a ball game – one at-bat can change how the game turns out, just like a crucial double play can.

Note 2) This is just some interesting tidbits about Eckstein. Eckstein has been with only two teams in his career – LAA and STL. Both teams won the World Series with Eckstein starting at SS in 2002 and 2006, respectively. The starting third baseman in 2002 for LAA? – Troy Glaus

I did not bother to dicipher your baseball calculas, but,

If i read what you are saying correctly caleb, then you are argueing that the Eckstein signing brings with it Ecksteins ability to win ?

Is this because if you play with a winning team, you learn the secret of winning ?

Couldn’t we just buy said secret from him, and keep Johnny Mac ?

I like it, i thought we needed an upgrade at SS, and leadoff, he brings both. Our offensive production at SS was near the bottom of the league, and out of our leadoff spot is average with johnson there. Plus the added depth.

dave, if we wanted to find out the Cards secret for winning, we should have hired Tony Larussa. Funny how he’s had that knack in both Oakland and St. Louis.

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