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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Jays "on the verge of signing David Eckstein, according to a major-league source".

The Cardinals did not offer Eckstein arbitration so the Jays would not give up any compensation if the deal was struck.

11:15 Update:  Jeff Blair reports that it's a one year deal for $4.5 million and that Eckstein will lead off.  That would likely leave Stairs/Johnson for the #2 spot in the order.


The Blue Jays tendered contracts to all arbitration eligible players with the exception of Josh Towers. As mentioned previously, that's not a huge surprise despite what Ricciardi was saying publically a few weeks ago.

The SF Giants signed Aaron Rowland to a 5 year contract which should all but shut the door on any trade involving Alex Rios.

Catchers released into the free agent pool yesterday were Johnny Estrada and Miguel Olivo.
Jays Close To Signing Eckstein | 199 comments | Create New Account
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Jevant - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:11 AM EST (#177624) #
I think I'm going to be sick.

Eckstein might be the number 1 most overrated player in the entire league.  And now I'm going to have to cheer for him.

jmoney - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:14 AM EST (#177626) #
Well I'm glad J.P. didn't stand back with Macdonald. Eckstein could be a real nice coup depending on the years and dollars he gets. The way Rosenthal frames the article gives me the impression that Eck found a less then receptive market for his services and the Jays might get a good deal.

I'm fine with Rios staying with the team.



CaramonLS - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:18 AM EST (#177627) #

Is it an upgrade?  Yes.

Is it another case of throwing money around which could be better spent elsewhere to increase the team's chances of  winning?  Yes.

Dylan B - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:19 AM EST (#177628) #
Seeing that Adam Everett was Non-Tendered by the Astro's yesterday, wouldn't he be a better option then both MacDonald and Eckstein?
Jevant - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:21 AM EST (#177629) #
Although I can't stand Eck, it *is* a fairly significant upgrade, at least at the plate.

David Eckstein career OPS+ = 89.
John McDonald carrer OPS+ = 58.

Eckstein is a bad hitter.  McDonald is an abysmal hitter.

If this deal is any more than $6-8 million over 2 years, it's a bad deal.

Jevant - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:22 AM EST (#177630) #
Everett career OPS+ = 69.

I'm actually shocked that David Eckstein is a significant offensive upgrade over both McDonald and Everett.  Perhaps I'm giving him too little credit.

Or maybe it's that Everett and McDonald are overvalued even more than Eck is.

CeeBee - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:27 AM EST (#177631) #
I guess it's a case of "pick your poison" but seeing that we already have McDonald under contract I think it would be best to take the better bat of Eckstein, even if it's only a marginal upgrade.
andrewkw - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:27 AM EST (#177632) #
I'd still prefer Everett.  If this is a one year deal I can live with it,  2 years I can I accept as the price of going from a terrible hitter to a bad one.  if its 3 years I'll be upset.
mathesond - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:29 AM EST (#177633) #
I noticed that the Cubs non-tendered Mark Prior - wonder if he's worth taking a flyer on
Noah - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:29 AM EST (#177634) #
at the end of the day this is about making the team better.  The teams wasn't expected to be that active in free agency so this tells me that they saw a player who was out of their price range, who was an upgrade on what they currently had and had. A signing of Eckstein to me signals that the market wasn't there for him and he's taking less money to be a starter. 

The reality is that we likely weren't going to spend much in free agency anyways so this move regardless of cost (within reason) is a positive because it provides us with a much better option at shortstop.

John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:29 AM EST (#177635) #
Oy.

A better hitter than McDonald (which pretty much everyone is) at 286/351/362 lifetime (89 OPS+). His fielding is not rated that highly though so it seems a bit odd. Via THT his 2007 RZR is at .783 while reaching 46 balls out of zone over 943 innings. His last 3 seasons before 2007 he was at 816,844,841. His OOZ plays were 44,59,43 over 1191,1340,1029 innings.

McDonald was at 845 last year (51 OOZ over 799 IP). 717,912(plus 806 in Det),837 the years prior.

Everett's last 4 seasons are 877,860,891,871 with OOZ being 35-78-60-35 over 842-1291-1292-535 innings.

Looking at these stats I'd be checking with scouts closely before signing Eckstein (is his fielding really that much below the others or a one year blip) and would be giving Everett a serious look and see if anyone is dumb enough...er...willing to take McDonald should we sign Everett. Eckstein actually appears in McDonalds territory for fielding with the exception of last season so maybe it isn't as bad an idea as I first though. Years and dollars would determine it.

FYI: Over 1000 innings for the Jays 10 points of RZR equals about 3 plays (using McDonald's stats for 2007 as a base). So, Eckstein 2007 would've cost 18 1/2 plays (so 18 - 19 times a guy would've reached base rather than made an out). Everett vs McDonald would've saved about 8 plays. Not factoring in out of zone plays by each.

8 hits over 500 AB's is 16 points of batting average. Or if you prefer, 8 hits over 500 PA's is about 16 points of OBP. Thus mixing defense in with offense Eckstein would have to be cut down by about 37 points in each of OBP/Avg/Slg (very rough estimate) vs McDonald if you assume last year was his true level. If you go by a 3 year cycle it is much harder to discount and Eckstien wins by his bat.

An improvement? Looks like it. Just don't blow $5 mil plus per year or 3 years.
AWeb - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:35 AM EST (#177636) #
This would seem like another roll of the dice, hoping for the perfect season to materialize. Eckstein's defense cratered last year, going from above average to terrible. Assuming he can recover some of his defensive ability, he's an upgrade over McDonald, if only a slight one. One thing Gibbons has shown a willingness to do is leverage defensive replacements, so McDonald's strength can still be maximized if he's used properly.

Eckstein in 2005 was a legitimately good player (28 win shares, 14 above bench, down to 11 and 2 in 2007). Hmm...seems like a lot of players on the Jays can already be described in similar terms. The Jays best-case team will be mightily impressive next year.

If this signing does go through, I think 2008 has to be JP's last year if things don't go well (read as 87 wins or more). You should only get so many chances to set upa team to succeed if everything breaks right.

Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:07 AM EST (#177639) #

Give the choice, I'd much rather have gone into the season with Everett and Scutaro than with McDonald and Eckstein. I deeply disliked the McDonald extension at the time and I'm disliking it even more now. Giving $2 million a year for two years to a defensive replacement, at the end of the season, before the market had even begun to sort itself out? And now the Jays will have to pass on the best defensive shortstop in the game and pick up crack-fillers like Scutaro and Eckstein instead, because the GM couldn't wait to give an extension to one of his favourites. Is this JP Ricciardi or Gord Ash?

Anyway ... Eckstein gets on base at a decent clip, has no power, and plays a very average shortstop for an average of 120 games a season. The offence will improve and the infield defence will suffer when he plays. And next spring, we'll go through the whole shortstop dance all over again.

2002 Felipe Lopez

2003 Chris Woodward

2004 Chris Gomez

2005 Russ Adams

2006 John McDonald

2007 Royce Clayton

2008 David Eckstein

If this front office has a plan of any kind, it's a really well-disguised one.

Leigh - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:12 AM EST (#177640) #
My computer says that:

David Eckstein would be worth 36 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008.
Marco Scutaro would be worth 30 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008.
Adam Everett would be worth 8 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008.

So, defensive stat Bauxites, if the following three precepts spit out by my laptop are true, which of the four would be best considering defensive runs in addition to the offensive output detailed above?

Noah - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:13 AM EST (#177641) #
In reality does anyone see this dance resulting in anything other than Ricciardi's firing and a fresh start with someone new a year from now?



Chuck - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:19 AM EST (#177642) #

Just some "back of the napkin" random comments about Eckstein...

ZiPS has him projected for a 700 (350/350) OPS for the NL. The average SS last year was 750 in the NL and 710 in the AL. So even without punishing Eckstein for changing leagues, he looks as if he'll be a below average offensive shortstop in 2008. As has been noted, he's historically been a better defender than the naked eye suggests. Until last year, that is. He'll be 33 next year, so that defensive drop could very well be legit. This is what happens to shortstops (not named John McDonald) when they hit their 30's.

So, Eckstein will most likely be a below average offensive shortstop and a below average defensive shortstop. That said, this might still be a net improvement over McDonald.

Were this a one-year deal, I'd say fine. But it won't be. Eckstein is going to eventually be so bad at shortstop that his bat can't carry his glove and there's nowhere to move him, what with a guy named Hill holding down second base. And then what do you with him? He'll be a utility guy that can only really play one position.

Were the bugs in time travel worked out by now, the Jays could undo the McDonald deal, scoop Everett (a historically great defensive shortstop), try that out for a year, and then revisit the shortstop mess next season.

As it is, we may be looking at a two-head shortstop in an offense/defense platoon, where their playing time is determined by the GB/FB ratios of the starting pitchers.

As Reed Johnson is a fan favourite, Eckstein would be as well. He has the same "you can't walk me but if you hit me, that's fine" attitude. He has the small frame and the Charlie Hustle attitude. Too bad he's not 27 any more.

China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:28 AM EST (#177643) #
  So, if this acquisition goes ahead, the Jays will have 3 shortstops and still nobody decent to back up Glaus at 3B.   And if the team actually does carry 3 shortstops, there would be no more room for another infielder on the bench.  Are the Jays just going to pray that Glaus doesn't get injured again?   Or are they planning to sign Hinske?  I don't quite get it.
   Of the 3 shortstops, which would be the best choice to play 3B when Glaus is injured?  None of them, I know, but if you were forced to choose......
VBF - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:33 AM EST (#177644) #
I gotta say, I'm pretty chill with this signing.

1) It shows that JP isn't complacent with a .280 OBP in the lineup.
2) They have now eliminated a bottomless pit in the lineup, and replaced it with a line almost identical to Hill's 2006.

You've got John McDonald coming in as a 8th or 9 inning defensive replacement, so as long as you don't fall head over heels for Eckstein, he's gonna help the team out.

I'll bitch about the number of years given out to him, when I hear an actual figure for budgets in the next three years. Who knows what they plan to spend--I'm happy with this move.


JayFan0912 - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:36 AM EST (#177645) #
I think this is a good move ... and this is why :
.314.362.389.751

These are eckstein's splits vs. right handers last year, and these are his three year splits :
.306.361.382.743

Not that far off.

In essence, we are getting a pretty good leadoff hitter, who hits righties very well, and plays a sinkhole offensive position in our lineup. With this move, our #9 hitter wont be mcdonald -- it will probably be zaun or estrada (if signed), and this removes any visible gaps. To me, it was really painful to watch mcdonald come up to the plate with runners in scoring position, and this at least addresses that problem.

China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:36 AM EST (#177646) #
   Just as a footnote to my point about the 3 shortstops:  please note that the Jays tendered a contract to Marco Scutaro just a day before the Eckstein news.
China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:41 AM EST (#177647) #
    And another point:  Scutaro's offensive numbers looked okay (barely) when he was seen primarily as a shortstop, as a back-up to McDonald or a potential platoon partner with McDonald.  His numbers look a lot worse if he is primarily a 3B to back up Glaus.


ANationalAcrobat - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:50 AM EST (#177648) #
I'm with ya VBF. I'm happy with it and the only issue for me is the number of years. I really don't care about the money since we clearly have it to spend (thanks John N.!) and it's not going to be an astronomical figure for a large number of years. If it's a two year deal, great. A three year deal, not so much. A four year deal - well let's just say a 36 year old Eckstein won't be pretty.

I really hope this does not stop JP from getting a real upgrade at SS next offseason or during the season if something nice becomes available. It would be awesome to have a SS who is actually a strength and whatever else happens I don't want Eckstein to stop us from getting one.

In essence, we are getting a pretty good leadoff hitter

No, we aren't. Eck gets on base well but his absolute lack of power means that the fewer ABs he gets, the better.

Pistol - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:57 AM EST (#177649) #
Were this a one-year deal, I'd say fine. But it won't be.

I had the same thought.  And it'll probably be 2 years with a player option or a relatively easy vesting option.  Because they won't come to Toronto otherwise.....

Is Molina the only free agent Ricciardi has signed to a one year deal?  (or at least for a player of significance)
Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:04 AM EST (#177651) #
Eckstein made $4.58 million last year. He's not going to come cheap.
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:16 AM EST (#177653) #
I generally agree with what appears to be the majority opinion on this signing.  It is an overall improvement, greatly upgrading the offense while giving up a fair amount of defense.  Here is what each did with the bat and the glove last season:

Eckstein - 309/356/382 for a 20.7 VORP with the bat, -14 Plus/Minus with the glove
MacDonald - 251/279/333 for a -7.8 VORP with the bat, +26 Plus/Minus with the glove

With 10 runs representing roughly one win, Eckstein was about 3 wins better than MacDonald with the bat last year.  However, he gave back a big chunk of that with the glove.  John Dewan and BIS's Plus/Minus number represents plays made above or below average, with every 3 plays representing roughly a run.  MacDonald was 40 plays better than Eckstein last year, which equates to about 13 runs or about 1.3 wins.  Therefore, last season Eckstein was worth about 1.7 wins over MacDonald.

Even if Eckstein's defense stays at the level that it was last season, he should still provide an upgrade of between 1-2 wins over MacDonald.  However, Eckstein posted a Plus/Minus of +7 in 2006, a higher total than MacDonald that season.

One thing that I would like to point out is that while MacDonald was phenomenal with the glove last season, he is unlikely to perform at the same level ever again.  People have career years on with the glove, just as they do with the bat.  This past season Johnny Mac made the leap from being a slightly above average SS to being one of the best in the game.  At age 32.  This improvement is not likely to last.  While he should still remain a good defensive player, he is much more likely to revert to being a slightly above average SS with a terrible bat, instead of being a Gold Glove caliber SS with a terrible bat.  That makes a huge difference when comparing these two players.

Overall, I probably would have preferred a combination of Everett/Scutaro to Eckstein/MacDonald, especially since the former is likely to be significantly cheaper and require less of a commitment in terms of years.  Everett is a better glove than MacDonald and a slightly better hitter, and Scutaro is a slightly worse hitter to Eckstein and a weaker glove.  Plus Eckstein and MacDonald both come with reputations of being "gritty" and being "winners", which likely makes them more expensive than they would normally be.  That said, there isn't much of a difference between these two combinations, IMO.  Signing Eckstein will make the Jays better this year, which is at least something to celebrate.

Mark - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:18 AM EST (#177654) #
Blair reports one year/4.5 million.

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

HippyGilmore - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:19 AM EST (#177655) #
I don't get it - he's gonna post a decent OBP, he can hit righties, and his defense isn't terrible. What's not to like here? It definitely makes the team better.
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:25 AM EST (#177657) #
Wow, only one year.  Thats fantastic.  I'm shocked that he didn't get at least 2 or 3 considering how thin the market at SS has been this offseason.

Giving MacDonald two years just keeps looking more and more ridiculous.

Pistol - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:26 AM EST (#177658) #
One year for $4.5 million is perfectly reasonable for me if Blair's report is correct (linked at the top of the page now).  After all, it's just money, and it's not mine.
Donkit R.K. - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:28 AM EST (#177659) #
If Blair's report of 1 yr/4.5 mil is correct, it might not be so bad.
More years or more money, though, and the outlook won't be so good...

China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:29 AM EST (#177660) #
  Just to clarify -- I like the acquisition of Eckstein and I agree with the majority opinion here.   My only concern is 3B.   With a contract now tendered to Scutaro, there apppears to be no room in the infield for  a power hitter to back up Glaus.   If he goes down for a significant number of weeks, the lineup will suffer a huge hit.  Bring back Eric Hinske!
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:31 AM EST (#177662) #
An added bonus of this signing is that since Eckstein is a "true leadoff hitter" (whatever the hell that means), there will be less of a temptation to put Reed Johnson in the lineup everyday.  The "spark" that Johnson used to provided at the top of the lineup with now be provided by Eckstein (at least in the mind of Gibbons).  Keeping Johnson out of the everyday lineup against righties is almost as much of a boon to the offense as keeping MacDonald out again everyone is.
Greg - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:33 AM EST (#177663) #

Were this a one-year deal, I'd say fine. But it won't be.

So you're saying "fine" now?

My apologies, I don't mean to be snarky, I've just been worried since I woke up this morning and read "Eckstein to the Jays" and this is the first good news I've had in hours!

Noah - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:34 AM EST (#177664) #
I think the most interesting part of the article is the last sentence where Blair says that Eckstein will lead off for the Jays this year.  Im not overly familiar with him as a player, did he hit leadoff a lot with the Cards?  Was he successful in that role.

His OBP seems to indicate a great candidate for the leadoff spot, im just curioius as to what he brings to that role as opposed to Johnson.

Furthermore with Eckstein in the leadoff role where do you bat johnson in the lineup?

HippyGilmore - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:34 AM EST (#177665) #

Incidentally, I'm not a J.P. hater or anything, but there's a really good comment by Josh Byrnes in the BPro Quotes of the Week that perfectly applies to the Jays current situation.

"You're either rebuilding for something special, or you're on the verge of something special. To be in between is foolish."

We are most definitely in-between.

AWeb - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:38 AM EST (#177668) #
A one-year contract would make me much, much happier with this potential signing. Eckstein must prove his terrible defense last year wasn't due to injuries/chance, but as an offensive, it's a big upgrade. Note Eckstein's errors were way up last year; I think this gives me some hope he could recover his defensive performance. Most 32 year olds don't lose the ability to complete the plays they get to, they just leak range over time.

But as noted by another poster, please don't think Eckstein should be leading off. He's not particularly fast, doesn't get on base at a great rate (good yes), and hence rarely finds himself on second base. Further, please don't let the Jays use him as the #2 hitter, in the style of my youth when #2 hitters made contact, made lots of outs, hit for little power and got credit for bunting. Eckstein strikes me as a very good #9 hitter, in the "second leadoff guy" mode. He'd be a bad choice to hit behind the Thomas/Glaus combination, since power is called for to get those guys around, and they found themselves on first and second a lot last year after walks.

Eckstein also necessitates a decent backup option, since he's becoming more injury prone over time. He shouldn't be starting everyday anyway, even if he was healthy. McDonald's better D should find him a semi-regular spot for Halladay and McGowan starts.

Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:39 AM EST (#177670) #
  My computer says that:

David Eckstein would be worth 36 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008.
Marco Scutaro would be worth 30 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008.
Adam Everett would be worth 8 runs of offense more than John McDonald over 150 games in 2008


I should be off Christmas shopping, but I couldn't resist. I'm not sure what run values your using , but here's what I got using linear batting runs ( a much better run model than OPS+ which does not properly  account for OBP)  which  is park adjusted and found at Baseball Reference. I took the last 3 years of hitting data ( always try to use more than a 1 year sample size as athletes can have off years, they get hurt, get divorced, go off the juice etc...) Strictly speaking most people then weigh each year differently when making projections, usually weighting the most recent year more heavily. For sake of simplicity ( and to have more shopping time) I just averaged the last 3 years, extrapolated to 600 P.A'.s which is roughly 150 games. This is what I got for  offensive output ;

Eckstein   -6.4
Scutaro    -6.5
McDonald -31.2
Everett     -31.4

This means for example, that Eckstein is 6.4 runs worse than the average N.L. hitter ( I did not adjust for league or age in these rough projections). Everett, hard to believe , may actually be a poorer hitter than McDonald. Keep in mind the average starting shortstop in the A.L. in 2007 was at -14, so Scutaro projects to some degree ( platoon splits are not incorporated), as being an above average hitter at short. The split between Everett and Eckstein is about 20-25 runs.

Obviously this is only half the story, defensive value, which is much harder to quantify needs to be included ( maybe after some shopping ?).
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:50 AM EST (#177673) #
I agree with AWeb that Eckstein should not be leading off, but think the choice comes down to Eckstein of Johnson (at least in the mind of Gibbons, the man who makes these sorts of decisions).  In reality, those are probably the Jays two worst hitters when they are in the lineup, so they should really be hitting at the bottom.  However, that is not likely to happen.  I would love to see the the Jays go with an outside-of-the-box leadoff hitter, like Overbay, Stairs or Lind (if he is in the lineup), but that will never happen.  My ideal lineup would go something like this:

Overbay
Rios
Glaus
Thomas
Wells
Stairs/Lind (whoever is in LF on a daily basis - NOT Reed)
Hill
Zaun
Eckstein

But I suspect we will see something more along the lines of what we saw last year, which would be:

Eckstein
Stairs/Johnson
Rios
Thomas
Glaus
Wells
Overbay
Hill
Zaun

That said, I don't think that lineup position makes that huge of a difference, it just results in Eckstein getting about 80-90 more PA's than he should, and everyone else getting about 10 less.  Not a good trade off, but not likely to be crippling either.  The biggest thing is keeping Johnson and MacDonald out of the lineup on an everyday basis.


Pistol - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:54 AM EST (#177675) #
My only concern is 3B.   With a contract now tendered to Scutaro, there apppears to be no room in the infield for  a power hitter to back up Glaus.   If he goes down for a significant number of weeks, the lineup will suffer a huge hit.  Bring back Eric Hinske!

I'm not sure that many teams, if any, have a power hitting backup 3B.  The best case would have the Jays getting Mike Lamb to back up the corners, but I'm not sure how possible that would be even without Scuturo or Eckstein.

Scuturo is probably as good as you're going to get for a backup 3B/SS/2B.  Having said that, it seems odd that the Jays are paying $4million+ combined for two backup infielders.

Hinske at this point certainly shouldn't be an option (having not played 3B in awhile and not being a very good hitter on top of that).
Mick Doherty - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:01 PM EST (#177679) #

I thought the Kevin Mench item in the teaser lede of yesterday's thread might attract some attention.

Mench turns 30 in about three weeks, is just a couple of years removed from 26- and 25-homer seasons, and even though he fell a bit in OPS+ the past two years (90 and 87), his career mark is still 101. His Most-Similars include Craig Wilson, Craig Monroe and Mike Cuddyer, which I think the Jays would love to have on the bench/in the outfield.

So, any interest in Shrek? Incidentally, he needs just eight more homers to become the all-time leader in that category among Delaware-born MLBers. The top spot is currently shared by Randy Bush, John Mabry and Dave May. Elite company!

jmoney - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:02 PM EST (#177680) #
A one year deal for Eckstein for those dollars is a real good signing. The Jays need some OBP and he can score some runs in front of Wells, Rios, Thomas, and Glaus.

Anyone griping about this is just nitpicking. Signing Scutaro should certainly not prevent JP from making this deal.

Seamus - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:03 PM EST (#177682) #
Why have so many reacted negatively to this signing?

What am I missing here?  I'm looking at his stats, and it seems like he's got some decent offensive numbers.  If he's hits around .300/.350 again that's quite a leap from McDonald.

Why is he viewed so negatively by some? (I ask genuinely - I don't know anything about him)




SK in NJ - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:05 PM EST (#177683) #

Assuming Stairs gets most of the playing time against RHP, signing Eckstein ensures that there won't be an offensive blackhole in the lineup. I'll take a .350 OBP with shaky D over a .270 OBP with great D. The fact that it's only for one year makes it even better, although there still isn't a SS anywhere in the system (other than Jackson who is half a decade away at the least) so the team will be right back trying to find Eckstein's replacement next season.

My only issue with this deal has nothing to do with Eckstein. My beef is the John McDonald signing. Now with Eckstein on board, that means McDonald is the primary middle infield back-up, while Scutaro will likely play more of a utility role while backing up Glaus. To me, that's a huge waste of resources. The Jays would have been better off with Scutaro as the primary IF back-up, with someone like Adams as the utility player (in-house), or go out and sign an Eric Hinske type. I'd be much more comfortable with Hinske backing up Glaus than Scutaro, defense be damned. I guess McDonald will be the $2 million defensive specialist.

Regardless, good signing for one year.

China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:07 PM EST (#177684) #
  Very interesting to see the new projected batting lineup (courtesy of Bones).    This would see Wells falling to 6th and Overbay falling to 7th in the new lineup.   This, in fact, is the appropriate place for both of those guys if they continue to hit as badly as they did last season.   But if they revert to 2006 form -- which is certainly quite plausible for both of them -- they would certainly deserve to bat higher in the lineup.   It's a nice dilemma to have, since the team will have a lot more options and flexibility in the lineup.  If Stairs and Johnson fail to perform at a decent level (which is certainly quite possible, given their age and Reed's back injury), the Jays have the flexibility to put Overbay or Wells into the 2nd spot in the lineup.   If Thomas or Glaus are slumping or injured (again, quite possible), then Wells or Overbay could be slotted into their positions.  So the lineup certainly looks stronger and more flexible.
Geoff - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:10 PM EST (#177686) #
If Mench came to the park every day with green-coloured skin, I would pledge to buy season tickets beside left field. The Jays should sign him on condition that he comes to the park looking green, and I can only imagine how much the ticket sales would be worth. Oh and also his value as a ballplayer, which is not insignificant. Except maybe to the ticket sales.
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:12 PM EST (#177687) #
I think a lot of the backlash against Eckstein is due more to how he is perceived by others than anything about him as a person or a player.  I personally was extremely annoyed throughout the 2006 Postseason from having to listen to morons like Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan talk about how gritty and effective he was.  Buck, in particular, was insufferable.  He constantly referred to Eckstein as "the best two strike hitter in baseball," which is just laughable.  Sure, he hardly ever strikes out, but really, better than Pujols?  Ichiro?  Vlad?  Give me a break, mouthpiece.  He is a hugely overrated player in mainstream circles, but also moderately underrated in what Rob Neyer would call the "Reality-based Community."  He hits reasonably well for a shortstop, runs the bases well and is slightly below average with the glove.  Overall, he is an average (or maybe just slightly below average) SS, and an upgrade over Johnny Mac.
binnister - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:17 PM EST (#177690) #

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Mench the one who lined a shot off of Doc's leg, putting him out for (practically) the whole season.....quashing the Jay's (albeit slim) playoff hopes that year?

If he does come, could we get the team to haze him by getting him to wear a leg cast for the first week of ST?

Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:18 PM EST (#177691) #

The Jays don't have a prototypical leadoff hitter, so they'll have to make do with what they have. To my mind, that's Vernon Wells. They batted him leadoff for a while last year and his walk rate blossomed (his poor BA hitting leadoff was closely tied to a lousy BABIP, and he still posted his highest OBP batting first) and he has said he's comfortable there. Follow Wells with Hill and Rios and bat Thomas cleanup. Overbay can hit fifth to break up the run of righties and Glaus bats sixth, which is just about where his skill set now merits. Put the catcher 7th, the left fielder (Johnson or, hopefully soon, Lind) 8th and Eckstein 9th. Flip Glaus and Overbay against southpaws; otherwise, that's your everyday lineup.

That's what ought to happen. What will happen is that Johnson and Eckstein will open the season batting 1-2, because John Gibbons is a traditional manager whose job is on the line and who's not going to get fired for batting the $20M centerfielder leadoff, and because JP Ricciardi actually appears to believe all that nonsense about "grit" and "spark" at the top of the lineup.

Leigh - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:18 PM EST (#177692) #
I should be off Christmas shopping, but I couldn't resist. I'm not sure what run values your using , but here's what I got using linear batting runs ( a much better run model than OPS+ which does not properly  account for OBP)  which  is park adjusted and found at Baseball Reference. I took the last 3 years of hitting data ( always try to use more than a 1 year sample size as athletes can have off years, they get hurt, get divorced, go off the juice etc...)

Geesh, I go a few months without participating much around here and lose some credibility, I guess.  Anyway, of course I didn't use OPS+ or one season's worth of anything.  I used some weighted three-year EqAs for the Jays starting lineup the four shortstops in question, and did the runs expectation formula four times on the team aggregate, one for each shortstop.
Greg - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:26 PM EST (#177695) #

I'm growing to really dislike the term "prototypical lead-off hitter" but Eckstein beats Wells' career OBP by 20 points

ZiPS projects Eckstein to have the 4th best OBP on the team behind Rios, Glaus and Thomas.  None of those guys are lead-off options.  I'm not saying Eckstein would be a GOOD lead-off hitter.  But I don't think it would be a mistake choosing him out of the rest of the Jays lineup.

Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:32 PM EST (#177697) #

Give me a break, mouthpiece.

This is good. I'm going to use this whenever I have to sit through a Fox broadcast.

I'm mostly still annoyed about the J-Mac signing late last year, but I'm dissatisfied with Eckstein on merit, too. He owns one of the emptiest .350 OBPs in baseball -- he usually has fewer than 30 extra-base hits a year. Put it this way: Reed Johnson's lifetime SLG percentage is 50 points higher. Moreover, in half his major-league seasons, Eckstein's SB/CS results are well below the necessary 75%+ success rate. Accordingly, he's not often in scoring position, and that's part of the reason why he hasn't scored more than 70 runs a season since he left Anaheim. He's not a leadoff hitter, especially not for an American League team. He's a ninth-place hitter who misses 40 games a year and looks to be entering a decline phase with the glove. Apparently, that's worth $4.5 million to the Jays.

Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:35 PM EST (#177699) #
Jordan, you make some good points in your post about the Jays lineup for next year.  I do want to nitpick you choice to put Glaus 6th because, as you said " which is just about where his skill set now merits."  What skill set is that, exactly?  Last year he put up a line of 262/366/473 in 385 at bats, following a season in which he put up a line of 252/355/513 in 540 at bats.  His power was down, but his OBP was up slightly.  Overall, I don't see a huge decline there.  I don't know where this perception that Glaus is slipping badly is coming from.  Overbay goes from 312/372/508 in 581 at bats to 240/315/391 in 425 at bats, and everyone seems willing to give him a free pass.  Granted, he was injured last season, but so was Glaus.  Glaus still provided decent production playing through his injury, while Overbay was terrible once he returned from injury.  Glaus wasn't as good last year as he was the two previous seasons, but he still provided above average production for his position, and was one of the better bats in our lineup. 

In my opinion, if we are going to worry about one of these guys, it should be Overbay.  He is a year younger than Glaus, but has less of a track record of success and is less athletic, not to mention that the bar for him offensively is higher seeing as how he is playing a less demanding position.  Even in a down year, Glaus is an above average performer.  Overbay, in a down year, is a major liability.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:35 PM EST (#177700) #

Geesh, I go a few months without participating much around here and lose some credibility, I guess.

Your still quite credible in my opinion. It's just that we have a new breed of Bauxite that tend not to document any of their viewpoints. Most of your numbers add up, but Everett does seem to be a little off ?
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:39 PM EST (#177702) #
Actually I need to read better, I thought you had  Everett only 8 runs poorer than Eckstein, which is not the case.
Excalabur - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:44 PM EST (#177703) #
Eckstein - 309/356/382 for a 20.7 VORP with the bat, -14 Plus/Minus with the glove MacDonald - 251/279/333 for a -7.8 VORP with the bat, +26 Plus/Minus with the glove John Dewan and BIS's Plus/Minus number represents plays made above or below average, with every 3 plays representing roughly a run. MacDonald was 40 plays better than Eckstein last year, which equates to about 13 runs or about 1.3 wins. Therefore, last season Eckstein was worth about 1.7 wins over MacDonald.
Hm. 3 plays to the run surprises me. MGL (I think, one of the Book Blog guys) did a study last year showing that a play-not-made was worth about 0.8 runs vs. a play made (yes, that high!). However, I'm not familiar with the +- system per se, so it may be scaled differently. Are you firm on that three +- points = one run scaling?

RZR numbers from THT have McDonald about 6% more likely to make a play on a ball in the shortstop's "zone".  Over a reasonable season at SS, that's about 18 plays different, or about 15 runs using MGL's numbers, just on plays that a shortstop is supposed to make.    McDonald also made plays out-of-zone at a much better rate than Eckstein: about half-again as many.  I'm unwilling to check the numbers of those around Eckstein for an off-the-cuff comment, but this indicates that McDonald's range is much better than Eckstein's.  I'm unqualified to estimate how many runs that range will save, so I won't. 
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:45 PM EST (#177704) #
If you like to get all hot and bothered  over lineup analysis, here's a nice little play thing.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:50 PM EST (#177708) #
Hm. 3 plays to the run surprises me. MGL (I think, one of the Book Blog guys) did a study last year showing that a play-not-made was worth about 0.8 runs vs. a play made (yes, that high!). However, I'm not familiar with the +- system per se, so it may be scaled differently. Are you firm on that three +- points = one run scaling?

I was going to comment on this, it was Tango, not MGL who I believe did this study, and yes absolutely a missed play is worth 0.8 runs , you are totally correct .
owen - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 12:58 PM EST (#177711) #
I read batter's box because I love the statistical analysis and the point-for-point debates. 

But I think that a guy like eckstein is valuable for intangibles.  He is a winner, as has been alluded to.  He is also 'gritty', etc. ... he leads by example.  Those things may not be easily quantifiable, but if they are then one way to measure them is in World Series rings, and obviously he has two, each with a different team. 

Actually, we now have the same left side of the infield as the Angels championship team, for what it's worth (ok, I know, they are both older and worse now, so it isn't worth much).

But ultimately what I am saying is that there is such thing as "knowing how to win."  It's something the Yankees and Red Sox have, and it's part of their edge over us.  I think that this isn't a myth, and that even though there are no stats to prove it, it's foolish to ignore it as a (x) factor.
John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:01 PM EST (#177713) #
Gotta love 1 year deals. A one year deal under $5 million I can be happy with. We now have a guy who is likely to have a 350 OBP who Gibbons will likely slot in the leadoff slot.

Last year Jay Leadoff Hitters...
247-321-407 via Rios/Johnson/Wells (only ones over 30 PA)

Last year Jay Shortstops...
237-276-322 via McDonald/Clayton/Olmedo (7 PA to others)

Eckstein as Shortstop...
311-357-385 over 114 games

Eckstein as leadoff hitter...
310-355-390 over 97 games

Yeah, I'd say offensively it is a major improvement for minor money.

I think this is a case where the more I look at it the more I like it. My first thought was 'oy vey' but that was due to an impression of Eck as a 'gritty' (read as overrated) guy who was a poor fielder. Checking the stats though he is a good OBP guy (vs the Jays at least) who had one bad year with the glove but was solid otherwise.

Wonder how Griffen will tear this one apart? :)
Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:01 PM EST (#177714) #

Bones, fair enough. I actually do have some concerns about Overbay too, and he may never have another 2006 season in him, but I also think 2007 was a plain aberration. He's a good hitter, plain and simple. I can see him settling in at .280/.350 with 30+ doubles and 15+ HRs while playing excellent defence for another couple of years. That would be just fine.

Glaus, though ... to quote Han Solo, I have a very bad feeling about this. He's a .250 hitter who walks enough to post a .350 OBP, and that's great, but his game revolves around staying healthy enough to whack 35-40 HRs a year. In three of his past five seasons, he's missed significant time and has hit 20 dingers or fewer. We know he's mixed up in the steroid business, which is not a good sign on the health or power fronts going forward. And FWIW, Glaus's most similar batter at BB-Ref is Dean Palmer, and Palmer's career was effectively over after his age-31 season. Glaus is 32 next year. I have real concerns that Troy awfully close to a cliff. If Blair's blog entries are accurate about the Jays trying to find "someone stupid enough" to take Glaus off their hands are accurate, that cliff could be here.

R Billie - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:01 PM EST (#177715) #

I would agree more with Rob Neyer in that I prefer to think of Eckstein as slightly underrated by stats rather than overrated by partial observers.  I think he's definately a limited player who is likely in defensive decline, but is capable with the bat.

In this very weak middle infield market, getting him for a one year deal is a pretty decent move.  You lose defence but get respectable offence.  And if you have any respect for intangibles, this guys' managers and teammates have always loved the way he plays and I have to admit I really admire his pest attitude at the plate.  I think that kind of player at short is much more acceptable than that kind of player as a corner position where you're more likely to be giving up pure offence.

He is not by any means the ideal leadoff hitter either but the Jays have no such animal unless you go back to the days of a Johnson/Cat type of platoon.  I have no problem with Johnson leading off against lefties or playing against lefties period.

Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:03 PM EST (#177716) #
Are you firm on that three +- points = one run scaling?

That is what Dewan claims in the Fielding Bible.  Or, at least I think thats what it was.  I quoted from memory, I didn't actually check it.  I could be off.
ANationalAcrobat - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:08 PM EST (#177717) #
But I think that a guy like eckstein is valuable for intangibles.

I won't completely disagree with you. I don't think he "knows how to win" necessarily, but I do think he has a strong work ethic and keeps his head in the game. A strong work ethic can't hurt other players but it can pressure them into working hard. If Eckstein does indeed work hard, keep his head in the game, and lead by example, he may have some limited value that goes beyond his statistical output.

It's worth noting that while Eckstein's WS MVP looks great, Troy Glaus won the same award in '02 and he's the anti-Eckstein.

John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:08 PM EST (#177718) #
When all else is close the 'knowing how to win' thing is a good tie breaker. Without a way to measure it though I'd have trouble (if I was a GM) to put a dollar figure on it.

Regardless, Eck over McDonald is a solid choice. Everett over McDonald also appears to be an easy choice but odds are Everett wants an everyday job and I figure someone will give it to him, especially if they have a young staff that throws lots of ground balls (not sure which teams fit that description best but teams that always suck like KC, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay should look seriously at him if they don't have a kid ready to step in at SS). The upgrade for backup would probably not be worth throwing out $4 million invested in McDonald too.
greenfrog - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:09 PM EST (#177719) #

Pretty hard to complain when Eckstein's contract is for one year, we don't lose any draft picks, and the default option was John McDonald. The way I see it, adding Eckstein is all about depth for 2008. I agree that he should be hitting 9th, though.

 

  

R Billie - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:09 PM EST (#177720) #

I'm dissatisfied with Eckstein on merit, too. He owns one of the emptiest .350 OBPs in baseball -- he usually has fewer than 30 extra-base hits a year. Put it this way: Reed Johnson's lifetime SLG percentage is 50 points higher. Moreover, in half his major-league seasons, Eckstein's SB/CS results are well below the necessary 75%+ success rate. Accordingly, he's not often in scoring position, and that's part of the reason why he hasn't scored more than 70 runs a season since he left Anaheim.

I think that's overstating things a little bit.  The main reason he hasn't scored a lot of runs is that he doesn't play full seasons.  It's true that having very little extra base power not being a base stealer makes him more reliant on others to drive him in.  But the Jays potentially have a lot of extra base power hitting right behind him and although he doesn't steal bases well, he's not a leadfoot.  I think you have doubles/triples/homeruns from Hill, Rios, Wells, Thomas, Overbay, Johnson/Stairs, and hopefully Glaus coming up behind him which should help move him around the bases.

Of course you'd love to have a Carl Crawford or a Jose Reyes to give you something close (but still not ideal) to a gold standard leadoff guy.  But in a very limited market at one specific position of need for one year, this is not a bad signing.

John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:12 PM EST (#177721) #
Everett signed with the Twins today
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7559454?CMP=OTC-K9B140813162&ATT=49

Looks to be about $3 million, or about 50% more than McDonald which makes sense to me.
R Billie - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:13 PM EST (#177722) #

The Red Sox were quite interested in Everett...I think they decided that they were able to live just fine without a big offensive contribution from Lugo so plugging in Everett's excellent defence would be a big win for them.  Now he's pretty much free for the signing.

It'll be interesting see if they pick him up whether they eat Lugo's cost in either keeping him on the roster or moving him somewhere else.

Zao - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:14 PM EST (#177723) #
I can't wait to hear Rod Black say "X-Factor" 6 times a game.
ramone - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:24 PM EST (#177724) #

Blair's latest blog is pretty interesting, besideds his rejoicing the fact that Towers is gone he mentions that Fasano could be signed by the Jays today and Reed could be traded as well.  I was hoping for Olivo as the back up, Sal's a great guy but wasn't he batting under the Mendoza line last year.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/baseball

Nigel - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:24 PM EST (#177725) #

I honestly don't see what the complaint is with this signing.  $4.5 m doesn't buy you much these days.  Eckstein is a quantum leap over Macdonald with the bat (as I have said a few times before - I don't think most people truly grasp how historically awful Macdonald is with the bat) and, unless you believe SS's make sustainable quantum leaps ahead in defense in their age 32 seasons, the historical difference in defense is not nearly as big as it was last year.  Frankly, I see both Eckstein's and Macdonald's defense slipping noticeably over the next year or two.

To me, there were two fundamental problems (yes, there were many others last year) with Toronto's offense last year: 1) they were OBP terrible last year; and 2) they were playing with a National League lineup (8 hitters and a pitcher - with Macdonald playing the role, very well I might add, of the pitcher) in the American League.  This signing helps address both of these things.

Now is it the best use of the money?  Hard to say, but I don't see how the money could be better spent right now.  Where the money could be better spent is in signing draftees who want over slot money but that ain't going to happen so we need to move on from that.

 

G Baier - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:26 PM EST (#177726) #
Is there a statistic that quantifies the number of pitches that a batter faces? Part of the value of an Eckstein/ Johnson is being the pesky lead off hitter who fouls off 4 or 5 pitches and gives his teammates something of a look at what the pitcher has that day. Maybe this is just colour commentary bunk, and the players on the bench don't really benefit much from this at all. But I could see this being a intangible that a good lead off hitter might bring that isn't well reflected in offensive stats. Ultimately  getting on base and getting to scoring position matter more to me, but  the help that a patient lead off hitter might offer to his teammates should be considered. Vernon swinging at first pitch strikes doesn't seem to be the ideal lead off even if his offensive numbers are better.
Jordan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:29 PM EST (#177727) #

Fasano? Eckstein? The quality of interviews in the clubhouse - not to mention sincerity - just went up.

Jeff Blair will forgive me if I don't find these traits quite as attractive as he does.

ayjackson - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:30 PM EST (#177728) #

If you like to get all hot and bothered  over lineup analysis, here's a nice little play thing.

According to the plaything:

vs RHP...

  1. Overbay, 1B
  2. Stairs, DH
  3. Zaun, C
  4. Rios, RF
  5. Glaus, 3B
  6. Lind, LF
  7. Wells, CF
  8. Hill, 2B
  9. Eckstein, SS

vs. LHP....

  1. Zaun, C
  2. Rios, RF
  3. Johnson, LF
  4. Glaus, 3B
  5. Thomas, DH
  6. Wells, CF
  7. Hill, 2B
  8. Overbay, 1B
  9. Scutaro, SS
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:31 PM EST (#177729) #
I've only had a chance to skim through the thread so far, but I just wanted to comment that the signing means something more than another Jays signing. You see, before the '05 season the AL MIP (Most Intangible Player) award was tightly contested between Eck and Jeter (except in '04 when Varitek shocked the baseball world and took the award). Since he went to the NL both Jeter and Eckstein have been winning every year in their respective leagues, but were yearning for the true competition to once again start. That my friends is the reason that David Eckstein in now a Blue Jay.
Dez - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:36 PM EST (#177730) #
Eckstein was the best free agent SS on the market this year, and the Jays signed him to a 1 year deal (apparently) at a reasonable price. It didn't even cost us draft picks. That's a good signing, and at least tells us that JP isn't blind to his team's offensive weaknesses.
China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 01:39 PM EST (#177731) #
   If the problem is a lack of OBP,  I fail to see how the Jays would benefit from trading Reed Johnson.  Yes, he had a terrible season last year (due to injury), and it might be difficult for him to rebound to the amazing .390 OBP that he produced in 2006, but he does possess a career average OBP of .342, even when the aberrant season of 2007 is included.


bryanttelfer - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 03:04 PM EST (#177768) #

<i>RZR numbers from THT have McDonald about 6% more likely to make a play on a ball in the shortstop's "zone".  Over a reasonable season at SS, that's about 18 plays different, or about 15 runs using MGL's numbers, just on plays that a shortstop is supposed to make.    McDonald also made plays out-of-zone at a much better rate than Eckstein: about half-again as many.  I'm unwilling to check the numbers of those around Eckstein for an off-the-cuff comment, but this indicates that McDonald's range is much better than Eckstein's.  I'm unqualified to estimate how many runs that range will save, so I won't. </i>

I fully expect to see the defensive loss with Eckstein in the SS slot extend to Glaus and Hill. McDonald's range allowed them to play the infield differently, to extend 3B coverage closer to the line and slightly in against bunts, and allowed a deeper turn between 2B and 1B, especially when Stairs was covering first to cover his range limitations. Eck's range limitations will force a more traditional setup, much like Royce Clayton's did, opening the gaps a little bit more. So expect our infield defensive stats to regress somewhat this year when he starts.

rpriske - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 03:51 PM EST (#177786) #

Yes, we now have three shortstops. That doesn't mean this was a bad signing. What it really does is remind us how bad the Johnny Mac signing was. I am happy to have Eck for a one year with Scooter as the utility guy.

 

It is Mac that should be the odd guy out.

Ozzieball - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 03:58 PM EST (#177787) #
While on the surface this is an abysmal and virtually unjustifiable signing, there are some areas for opitimism. Halladay has annointed McDonald as his own personal shortstop, so he will still start all those games. Gibbons has also shown to be reasonably competent with defensive switches, meaning that McDonald will play behind most if not all innings pitched by McGowan, Litsch, and Janssen. The Jays have also proven to be relatively good with benching/abandoning their low-risk projects (Clayton, pitching circus last year), so if we're lucky Eckstein will be waived by June. By both UZR and RZR (BIS and STATS measurements), McDonald was one of the top shorstops in baseball by VORPD, and posted the 2nd best +/- in baseball - a counting stat - despite playing the 3rd fewest innings of any regular starter. Eckstein is a bottom 5 shortstop. The best case scenario for the Jays is that Eckstein acts as a righthanded version of Scutaro, giving the Jays more semi-passable options off the bench until some team that has an obsession with GRITSCRAP trades us half a bag of balls for him.

Yes I am trying to rationalize this signing by hoping the Jays use him to fleece someone in a trade.

My real hope is that Gibbons was just looking for a new sparring partner, and they paid Eckstein 4.5M to get beaten up every week. That would satisfy me on several levels.

timpinder - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:14 PM EST (#177791) #

Blair's statement that Johnson may be traded is good news, in my opinion.  I was actually hoping he'd be non-tendered so that Lind could play everyday.  Trading Johnson and starting Lind would allow the Jays to optimize the use of Stairs as a pinch-hitter off the bench and as the backup at 1B, DH, LF and RF.  Hell, if Thomas continues to struggle against righties, as he did last year, Stairs could even move into a semi-platoon role with Thomas. 

Bill James' projections for 2008 actually have Lind leading the entire Jays' lineup in slugging percentage, with a total line of .297 avg / .349 obp / .500 slg / .849 ops.  His minor league stats suggest that the projection might not be far off.  The lineup would be much improved against right-handed pitching in 2008 with the inclusion of Eckstein and Lind in the lineup instead of McDonald and Johnson. 

Axil - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:22 PM EST (#177793) #
Knowing Riccardi and his pertinent ability to claim that a player who has never had much success in a position will 'confidently be able to handle those duties' I assume this is the end. It's likely that Scutaro is going to be the third baseman replacement and the only other signings we will see are a backup catcher (probably Fasano but possibly Lieberthal) and a 5th starter (increasingly looking like Matt Clement). I would also like to see another veteran signed to a minor league deal (maybe Casey Fossum or Ramon Ortiz) just for some depth and a couple of reliever (possibly Brian Moehler and Aaron Sele or Chris Reitsma) because outside of Ryan Wells we don't have much depth in the minors. A minor league DH wouldn't hurt either (I'm thinking Craig Wilson). A final list of signing that looks like this would be amazing:

Mike Lieberthal
Matt Clement
Cassey Fossum
Aaron Sele
Chris Reitsma
Craig Wilson
timpinder - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:26 PM EST (#177794) #
I'm also not opposed to signing Fasano.  McGowan, Marcum, Janssen, Litsch, et al, are young pitchers who could benefit from having someone like Fasano there to assist them.  Even Halladay credited Fasano with improving his cutter last year.  Also, other than during Marcum starts, opposing teams ran rampant on the Jays last year.  Fasano should help in that regard, and I wouldn't be surprised if he became McGowan's personal catcher. 
Mike Green - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:32 PM EST (#177795) #
This contract is fine.  Eckstein/Olmedo would be a much better combination than Eckstein/McDonald though, as the club could take advantage of L/R platoon possibilities along with offence/defence. Alas, that ship has apparently sailed.



bryanttelfer - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:38 PM EST (#177796) #

Halladay has annointed McDonald as his own personal shortstop, so he will still start all those games.

Which makes sense, because Doc's cutter is a contact pitch. He knows McDonald is a vacuum out in SS and as long as the ball in is play near him, he's going to get the out. I think a great deal of the Jay's success this year with Marcum, McGowan and Litsch came from their willingness to pitch to contact down in the zone because of the quality of the defense behind them. That's why I've got no problems with McDonald's lackluster offense; not only does his defense more than make up for his bat, but his defensive range also brings up the entire infield to optimum levels to succeed. Glaus, who is an excellent 3B arm and glove but has poor range, is able to operate on a narrower zone, and it maxmizes his strengths and minimizes his weaknesses.

A shortstop like Eckstein will require a more traditional alignment out of 3B, 2B and to a limited extent, 1B. That means you will see some regression because issues like Glaus' range can't be compensated for in the same manner. Is that worth Eckstein's offensive upgrade? I don't think so, but there are a lot of offense first people who do.

ayjackson - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:41 PM EST (#177797) #

I'm also not opposed to signing Fasano.

I am also not opposed to the signing of Fasano as a roving organizational Instructor/Coach.

Pistol - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 04:45 PM EST (#177798) #
I am also not opposed to the signing of Fasano as a roving organizational Instructor/Coach.

Yeah, no kidding.  Save a roster spot and the minimum salary for someone that can hit a lick.
scottt - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 05:38 PM EST (#177804) #
Eckstein can hit singles. He doesn't stike out much, but doesn't walk much either. He's not a run producer. Last year he went .314 with bases empty and .244 with runners in scoring position.

I don't understand those here that don't want him to leadoff. He should have no problem scoring from first on a double from one of the next 3 guys--Hill or Overbay/Rios/Thomas. It would be a good idea to pinch hit for him after 2 or 3 ABs, especially if winning or with runners in scoring position. I'd use him as a pinch runner in games he doesn't start. Unless Gibbons throws him an anchor, he should lead the team in stolen bases.

Was it Gibbons that talked about batting Hill second in the order?

Chuck - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 05:41 PM EST (#177805) #
Bill James' projections for 2008 actually have Lind leading the entire Jays' lineup in slugging percentage, with a total line of .297 avg / .349 obp / .500 slg / .849 ops.

Didn't that forecast have Lind logging about 300 AB in about 110 games? If so, that would suggest that he is forecasted as a platoon player, presumably with a Reed Johnson serving as platoonmate and defensive caddy.
Gerry - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 05:45 PM EST (#177807) #
The major point in favour of the Eckstein signing is that he is coming off a down season and he is on a one year contract.  Also Johnny Mac might have had his career year last year so the signing is good insurance and hopefully a step up.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 06:02 PM EST (#177809) #
Also Johnny Mac might have had his career year last year so the signing is good insurance and hopefully a step up

Off course it's the first year he's been a regular as well, players in any sport perform better when they have the underlying confidence that they won't get yanked for the smallest mistake. Perhaps  McDonald showed his true ability  level in 2007 when finally given a  chance as an everyday regular.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 07:05 PM EST (#177819) #
Wilner doesn't particularly like the Eckstein signing.
greenfrog - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 07:25 PM EST (#177822) #
Wilner's point is well taken, but it assumes that (1) Eckstein's defense will continue to be as bad as (or worse than) it was in 2007, (2) McDonald's defense will be as strong as it was in 2007, and (3) McDonald's play as a starter can hold up over the course of a full season. I can't comment on the statistical worth of the extra 70-odd points of OBP versus McDonald's defense, but 70+ points of OBP seems like an awful lot. Especially when Sal Fasano is going to start some games and Glaus is likely to miss some time.

Finally, adding Eckstein gives the Jays a strong bench: Johnson/Stairs (and maybe Lind), Eckstein/McDonald, Scutaro. That is way better than Clayton, Olmedo, Luna, Adams, etc.
Lefty - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 07:58 PM EST (#177828) #

Perhaps  McDonald showed his true ability  level in 2007 when finally given a  chance as an everyday regular.

I couldn't agree with this comment more. In fact McDonald attributed his stellar defensive season to regular playing time and also his preparation for full time duty.

Mylegacy - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:22 PM EST (#177832) #
The big E's offensive production is yuck. However, the Prime Minister's offense is extremely offensive. We've upgraded the offense a little more than a "bit" - his OBP is over 350 - pretty weak for a lead off guy - but quite a bit better than our lead off guys last year. We now have no appalling offensive sinkholes. This is important  - when we're getting to a pitcher we'll have a better chance of keeping the line going. This guy is REALLY overrated - but we're so weak at SS he's a real upgrade. AND, we still have the PM around as a defensive replacement.
John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:28 PM EST (#177833) #
A big thing to remember here as well...

Since 2003 Eckstein has played over 123 games twice - 142 in '04 and 158 in '05.  Just 117 last year and 123 the year before

Since, well, ever McDonald has yet to play more than 123 games, cracking 100 just twice (the last two seasons).  132 was his peak in the minors, back in '98.

These guys can, and will get hurt next year.  Having them both just makes sure we don't go to super-ugly for shortstop.     

TamRa - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:29 PM EST (#177834) #
Quote:
Perhaps  McDonald showed his true ability  level in 2007 when finally given a  chance as an everyday regular.

I think so to, but I don't think you made the point you meant to make.

In each of the last two seasons, when McDonald was given the responsibility of taking over for a failed incumbent, his offensive weaknesses were writ large.

Last year his numbers after the ASB...most of which he spent starting after he he pushed Clayton to the curb...were .216/.251/.304/.554

WORSE than his overall line.

He showed no improvement after defaulting into the full time job in 2006 either.



Geoff - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:40 PM EST (#177835) #
Appears the guys over at SI are confused at how many years the Jays would give to Ecks.

Headline says two years, although the article still says one.

Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:51 PM EST (#177838) #
Back from shopping. The best way to look at defence is to use data from both UZR and the Fielding Bible. These two defensive systems apply, unlike THT'S RZR, various modifiers such as number of outs ( is the team at double play depth), which way the batter hits ( to mitigate infield shifts) and other such important details. Unfortunately they're proprietary to a certain degree ( the Bible wants you to buy the Book in 2009), meaning  getting detailed info is sometimes difficult.

Fortunately by random luck we have Fielding Bible information on Eckstein, McDonald, Everett and Scutaro over the past 3 years. I don't have UZR at this time, but combining it with the Bible would be ideal.

Eckstein in 2007 was bad , -16 runs below the average shortstop over 150 games defensively. Prior to this he was about league average. Was this a blip or the start of a rapid career decline?  I have him projected, given age and a poor 2007, at about -5 to -10 runs runs  below average in the field in 2008.

McDonald over 3 years projects at + 19 runs above average, but given age and some regression,  +10-15 is probably more accurate.

Everett is truly spectacular. The Ozzie Smith of our generation. He's + 30 runs in both Dewan's system and UZR, but can he recover from his broken leg?

Scutaro is a bad defender at short, projecting to about 20-25 runs below average.

Next, combine offense  and defense for the shortstop position and this is what you get;

-Eckstein  +5 offense/-5 defense,essentially a league average player.

-McDonald - 16 0ffense  /+15 defense, again essentially league average ( I know this statement is going to upset a lot of Bauxites who place  no value on defensive ability) 

- Everett  -16 0ffense / +30 defense , he's a +15 player or 1.5 wins above average. He's actually quite good despite the hitting.

- Scutaro +8 hitting/-20 defense ,should only appear at short in case of extreme emergency.

Basically overall, Eckstein is not a huge improvement  over McDonald, but they do each bring a unique sub-set of skills  to the position.  When Marcum is on the mound and a tough righty is pitching use E,  when an extreme ground baller like Halladay starts ,  you may want to use  the P.M. Combined they'll give the team adequate shortstop production if leveraged properly.





 

Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 08:59 PM EST (#177839) #
I think so to, but I don't think you made the point you meant to make.

I'm not confused, I fully point out that McDonald is an atrocious hitter, at -31 runs below A.L. average he's horrendous, but his defensive value is quite good. The confusion is that  the typical Bauxite ( such as you?)  has  no idea how to properly correlate both offence and defence .
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:00 PM EST (#177840) #
Off course it's the first year he's been a regular as well, players in any sport perform better when they have the underlying confidence that they won't get yanked for the smallest mistake.

I don't subscribe to this particular piece of received wisdom.  This is something that players say constantly, but is there any objective information to back up this claim?  I highly doubt that there is.
Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:06 PM EST (#177841) #
McDonald - 16 0ffense  /+15 defense, again essentially league average ( I know this statement is going to upset a lot of Bauxites who place  no value on defensive ability)

16 runs below average?  Where did you get that number from?  According to VORP (at BP), MacDonald was -7.8, which is against replacement level.  Is the average SS only 8 runs above replacement?  Also, let it be know that BP is often criticized for setting the replacement level bar too low, which means that MacDonald was likely that much further from average.  Just off the top of my head, -30 seems like a much more realistic number (and even that might be flattering to Johnny Mac).
Ron - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:12 PM EST (#177842) #
I wasn't a fan of the J-Mac signing at the time, and I'm sure not a fan of it right now. But it has to be mentioned, any deal that prevents him from getting 350+ AB's is a good move. I'll get the barf bag ready right in time for next season because I'm sure the announcers will go on and on about how Eckstein is "gritty", "plays the game the right way", and "is a proven winner."



Bones - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:16 PM EST (#177843) #
Josh Towers will be somewhere else in 2008, which means the maturity level in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse rose by about 1,458 per-cent.

Sal Fasano could be signed by the Blue Jays today. Fasano? Eckstein? The quality of interviews in the clubhouse - not to mention sincerity - just went up.


Wow, was that ever an embarrassing blog entry from Jeff Blair.  I personally couldn't care less about a players maturity level, or the quality of interviews that they provide.  Blair obviously had a problem with Towers as a person and he let it spill over into his work.  That is unacceptable for a journalist, IMO.  I would expect this sort of thing from Richard Griffin, but not from Blair.  I'm pretty disappointed in him.
Grasshopper - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:16 PM EST (#177844) #
I am pumped up about this signing, I love Eck and cant wait to see him on the jays.  Hes a sparkplug and always plays hard. He will fit in the the jays because of that. 
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:22 PM EST (#177845) #
Using Linear batting runs I've actually  ran the numbers for 2007 A.L. starting shortstops and its at -14 runs below average  ( I believe MGL uses -11 runs).  This means the typical shortstop produces 14 less runs than the average A.L. hitter, which should be no surprise as its primarily a defensive position. McDonald is -31 runs below average, or -16 compared to other shortstops.

I don't suscribe to VORP because of the many issues around it, replacement level being just one of them.

Will Rain your point is taken that McDonalds hitting eroded as an everyday regular. Before the break he was at a .671 OPS (damn near league average), he was horrible after,a  .558 OPS. This did not occur however in 2006, where he hit better after the all  star break, so we may have some sample size issues.
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:26 PM EST (#177847) #
The boys at the Book seem to like the Eckstein signing (scroll way down).
Wildrose - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 09:46 PM EST (#177848) #
I don't subscribe to this particular piece of received wisdom.  This is something that players say constantly, but is there any objective information to back up this claim?  I highly doubt that there is.

Really this is just common sense, no study required. Lets toss out a few examples, Steve Nash a back-up to K.J.  and  Jason Kidd flourishes as a starter when given a chance with Dallas.  Jamero Moon/ Boris Diaw find a guy named Colangelo who gives them a chance as starters and they suceed against common wisdom, Mika Kiprousoff a career back up meshes with Daryl Sutter when he becomes an everyday starter and wins the Vezina, Jeff Garcia comes off the bench to relieve an injured Doug Flutie  and goes on to the Pro-Bowl.

Really I could go on all night, some players with underlying talent succeed when finally given a chance,  usually by sheer circumstance. 
Lefty - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:11 PM EST (#177849) #

"Iím a big fan of Towers, the person, and I think that in the right situation he could once again be a good major-league starter."

The above quote is Mike Wilner.

I also found Blair's comment stunning. Perhaps he's just doing his usual bit of PR for JP again, you know, giving the skids a wee bit grease. But I always figured that was Wilner's job. Maybe Mike's role is changing. I'm happy to see him becoming less predictable in his analyses.

Thanks for linking the Wilner blog above Wildrose.

 

Pistol - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 10:54 PM EST (#177852) #
I also found Blair's comment stunning.

I didn't.  He's been on this kick about Towers for the past two years, just like he has with Burnett.
Paul D - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:13 PM EST (#177855) #

I don't subscribe to this particular piece of received wisdom.  This is something that players say constantly, but is there any objective information to back up this claim?  I highly doubt that there is.

There's some evidence that this is true for basketball (check out basketball prospectus or 82games.com), but i'm not aware of any studies that show the same is true for baseball.
China fan - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:28 PM EST (#177858) #
   I don't get the criticism of Blair's comments.  It's a blog -- it's inherently supposed to be a personal viewpoint, with his personal reactions.   Have you ever seen a blog that was objective neutral journalism?   If some readers "don't care" about Blair's viewpoints, that's perfectly fine.  He's not trying to satisfy the needs of each fan, and he's not trying to do statistical analysis -- he's writing a blog.  Deal with it. 
     The value of Blair's comments is this:  he's in the dressing room with the players after every game, he spends a huge amount of time with them at spring training and during the season.  He sees their personalities more than we do.  And he talks to Jays management, so he hears about the interaction between the players and the managers.  Surely this has some unique value of its own.  His argument, I assume, is that Towers is too immature and emotional, and therefore this could be a poor influence on the team.   It could also explain why Towers is never able to harness his strike-throwing talent into a consistent career.  Emotions and personality can't be quantified into statistics, so I think it's worthwhile to have someone like Blair giving us his insights into it.
   As for his comment about Fasano's interviews:  it's a blog, so naturally Blair is writing about his job and what he encounters when he's doing interviews.   Personally I find it interesting that Fasano is more articulate and intelligent than some other players.  That's why I read his blog.  If you're not interested, you don't have to read it.

owen - Thursday, December 13 2007 @ 11:48 PM EST (#177860) #
GregJP,

Is your point that HOF voters value things like leadership, 'grittiness' - whatever that is, and hustle (you know, playing the game 'right') too highly?  I'm not here to be the guy who takes veiled shots at sabermetricians - both because this is not the forum in which to do so, and because even it it were I would never want to.  I understand where John Northey is coming from above.  "Knowing how to win" isn't easily quantifiable, so while a given player may possess such a quality, it's hard to really know 'how much' of it he has, and to what degree - and therefore how it can translate into wins and therefore dollars.


But if/when stats can't tell the whole story then there are other places one can look to determine a player's value.  Anyone who has played competitive sports understands the mental aspect of whatever game they are playing.  They understand that the mental aspect is probably as important as the physical aspect, especially when you reach a certain level.  David Eckstein's presence does not suddenly make the Blue Jays a confident team that knows what it takes to win and believes that it can win.  But the fact that he's been there before helps - it helps when he speaks in the clubhouse, etc.  But that's not really the point.  I'm as tired as anyone of hearing about guys who will come in and show great leadership in the clubhouse (Mondesi, more recently Koskie, more recently again the Big Hurt).  What we are really worried about is whether or not he's a good player to slot in at shortstop.  Well, he has been good enough for two World Championship teams.  Obviously, this point is not meant to be a discussion ender.  But I believe it should be taken into account when rating Eckstein.
SheldonL - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:09 AM EST (#177866) #
"The major point in favour of the Eckstein signing is that he is coming off a down season and he is on a one year contract."

Gerry, he hit a career high .309 and his OBP was .356...doesn't seem like an off-year. An injury shortened season, yes, but not an off year.
Are people actually complaining about his OBP! A career .351 is actually pretty good. Only Glaus, Stairs and Thomas had higher OBP's than Ecks last year(Rios had a .354). Among the rest of the Jays, only Overbay's got a higher career OBP than Ecks.
So among our starters, he's fourth in career OBP ...that's pretty good!
Excalabur - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:44 AM EST (#177868) #
Thanks for taking the time to run the numbers, Wildrose.

Looks like an O/D platoon could actually work out quite well, scary as that sounds.  It also might help avoid those two getting hurt. 

The Eckstein signing also makes it highly unlikely that Scutaro will get time at SS, which is a mighty good thing given those defensive numbers.

The moral here, as always: defense is important
SK in NJ - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 08:41 AM EST (#177870) #

I'm quite surprised at the negative feedback towards this move. Eckstein is not a great player, but he has a career .350 OBP and has started at SS for playoff/World Series teams. All it cost was $4.5 million over one year in a market where guys not even as good as Eckstein are getting multiple years.

John McDonald's popularity is overriding some people's better judgement. He's a marginal MLB bench player; great defensively but can't hit to save his life. The fact that he's being paid double what he's worth is bad enough, but some of you are actually upset that he's being replaced by a player LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than him?

As I said before, if Stairs or Lind get the bulk of the playing time against RHP, then there isn't a weak spot in the Jays lineup against RHP anymore (assuming guys like Wells, Overbay, and Glaus stay healthy and perform like they normally do). That's a major step towards being competitive. Just by adding Eckstein, I think this team has made the jump back to where they were in 2006: a team capable of winning 90 games. That's a much better situation to be in than hoping McDonald repeats a season in which he had a .279 OBP (and that was his best overall year!).

On another note, I hope Blair is right about trading Johnson. I like Reed as a platoon fourth OF, but if he's anything more than that I'd be nervous, and I think Gibbons would play him far too much. Give Lind the everyday spot (against righties and lefties) with Stairs backing up LF/RF/1B/DH, and I think the team is better off.

TimberLee - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 09:20 AM EST (#177874) #

I think SK has said it. Eckstein is clearly an upgrade at SS for this team at this time, mainly because he can get himself on base at a rate that makes him useful. McDonald is popular among fans for wnatever reason .(I suspect a lot of it is that we can identify with a guy who works hard and has a job that many of us would like to do even though we know we wouldn't be good at it either.)

  The thing about Eck that is going to require considerable gritting of the teeth while we're viewing games on TV is that many of us can already anticipate the annoying and downright stupid things announcers are going to say about him as he comes to bat. (How do we identify a "gritty" player exactly? What does a "leader" look like? Does he have to be short?) I am cringing now at the prospect of Rod Black speaking on the subject (over and over and over). But none of that is the player's fault.

Chuck - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 09:24 AM EST (#177875) #

but some of you are actually upset that he's being replaced by a player LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than him?

I don't concur that this assessment accurately reflects the general opinion in these parts. I think that most are arguing that Eckstein does represent an improvement over McDonald but are simply trying to appropriately guage Eckstein's value. That's where opinions diverge and that's where the debates seem to focus. 

Is he a leadoff hitter or a ninth place hitter?
How is his defense? Various metrics have him above anywhere from below average to above average.
If his defense really did plummet in 2007, was that an aberration?
Is McDonald really a gold glover or was his 2007 an aberration?
How does the calculus work for the groundball pitchers? Does McDonald make more sense for them?
Is the "gritty" Eckstein really inspirational or is that balderdash?
Does the fact that he played on two WS winners mean he "knows how to win" or is that balderdash?

 

92-93 - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 10:25 AM EST (#177879) #
Can people please stop saying he "knows how to win"?! The Cardinals won 83 games in 2006 but were lucky enough to play in the worst division in baseball and made the playoffs. Once there, as we all know, anything can happen. The Jays problem isn't playoff performance, it's getting there. Not to mention that over the last 2 years, his team's record is exactly .500 with him pencilled in. Over that same span, the Jays are 8 games over .500 when JMac starts.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is it's all bogus - teams win games, not players.
92-93 - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 10:27 AM EST (#177880) #
Make that 11 games over .500 in JMac starts, 97-86
ANationalAcrobat - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 10:28 AM EST (#177881) #
That's why I read his blog. If you're not interested, you don't have to read it.

Nice post, Chinafan. I was thinking exactly the same thing when I read Bones' comments bashing Blair.

ayjackson - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 11:00 AM EST (#177884) #

Make that 11 games over .500 in JMac starts, 97-86

Wow.  That's what I like about JMac - he's gritty, he's a gamer and he knows how to win!!!

Coat, please.

Bones - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 11:12 AM EST (#177885) #
That's why I read his blog.  If you're not interested, you don't have to read it.

Fair point, Chinafan.  I guess I just expect a greater amount of professionalism from an actual paid journalist posting something on his newspaper's website than I would from some crank on the internet with his own personal site.  I have no problem with Blair expressing his personal views on each of the players or the ins-and-outs of his job, but I just don't think that the Globe and Mail website is the proper forum for that.  The blog is called "Globe on Baseball," not "The Jeff Blair Experience."  If he wanted to maintain a personal site for these sorts of topics (similar to what Keith Law does, although he rarely uses his personal site to touch on baseball issues), I would be fine with that, and would actually find it quite interesting.  Fair or unfair, I hold Blair and other journalists to a higher standard than I do the average "blogger,"  especially when he writes something under the banner of his employer.
Denoit - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 11:25 AM EST (#177886) #
Personally I think its a good addition, our SS has been a tough spot for us to fill. I really dont understand all those fancy stats and numbers, cause really to me trying to put a number to preformance just doesnt make sense. Anyways this lineup full of free swingers needed to add some patience and a solid on base guy to solidify our #1 spot. I dont know if Jonhson is going to be batting second, to me Hill still seems like a better option then put Johnson at #9 hole. Otherwise where are we going to utilize Hills bat the most? Not in the middle of the order, and he is too good to put at the bottom. I think Ekstein is going to set the table, and make that first out of the ballgame a tough one for the pitcher. Then you have Hill, Rios, Wells to follow...i really like the sound of that.
Chuck - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 12:01 PM EST (#177890) #
trying to put a number to preformance just doesnt make sense.

That's an odd stance. Why wouldn't you want to measure, as best you can, offensive and defensive contribution? How else are you going to decide who to draft, who to play, who to pursue as free agents? WIthout measurements, you're reduced to basing decisions on mere observation which, I would argue, would be a woefully inadequate barometer.

Anyways this lineup full of free swingers needed to add some patience and a solid on base guy to solidify our #1 spot.

Eckstein is most definitely not a patient hitter, at least with respect to his ability to draw walks. His AB:BB ratio is far below average. Like Reed Johnson, his OBP is propped up by his willingness to let pitches hit him. I suppose you could argue that that's a form of patience.
owen - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 12:44 PM EST (#177894) #
Ok, ok, 92-93 and Ay.  Point well made, point taken.
GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:05 PM EST (#177896) #
Owen,

While you are entitled to your opinion, I think you vastly overrate factors such as 'leadership" and "gritiness"

The reason that the Yankees and the Red Sox finish ahead of the Jays is THEY HAVE BETTER PLAYERS (not because they "know how to win")  I apologize if my post came across as mocking, but you pretty well quoted every term that I loathe and despise when it comes to describing players and the contributions they make.

Do you really think that Eckstein is a "winner"?  Does that mean Don Mattingly is a loser?   Is Ernie Banks a loser?  It's all just luck of the draw.  Some truly bad players have played on multiple world series winners, while some truly great players have never had a sniff.

David Eckstein is a (barely) average hitter for a SS, and a below average fielder.  Using him instead of McDonald will have no significant effect on how the team does.

GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:18 PM EST (#177898) #
The moral here, as always: defense is important

I think this is very true, and the effects of a players defensive capabilities have been vastly underrated historically. 

With new defensive metrics (developed in the last 5 years) combined with stats like VORP, win shares, etc we can finally start to quantify offensive and  defensive contributions side by side.

I truly believe that the defense played by Wells, McDonald, and Hill up the middle was a HUGE factor in how well the Jays pitched last year.  I agree with Wilner in that I'd much rather have McDonald hitting 9th than Eckstein leading off.


owen - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:44 PM EST (#177901) #
*NOTE: only read this post if you want to hear a guy ramble about 'intangibles'

Greg,

Don't worry, I didn't take offense to your tone.  I mean, you were of course mocking me, but I don't mind, especially in this case.  If I'm going to talk about 'grittiness' and 'leadership' around here, I am going to take my lumps, and deservedly so. "Knowing how to win" sounds like a ridiculous notion because it implies that if a guy hasn't won, then he doesn't know how, and if he has won, then he does know how.  But we all know how to win.  Score more runs than the other team.  Do so using good pitching, hitting and fielding.  So it sounds like I'm saying that Eckstein can hit and field poorly, but by 'knowing how to win' can magically add runs to the scoreboard.

Talking about 'knowing how to win' is like talking about the value of a manager.  Some people don't think that the manager is all that important, because proper in-game tactics are often extremely obvious ... and because managers tend to make the wrong decisions time and time again, anyways.  But teams value managers for other reasons.  We will probably find out more about whether this makes sense this season by watching the Yankees and Dodgers.  But with a player like David Eckstein, when you say he 'knows how to win', you are talking about the same sort of thing. 

How many things does he do, outside of fielding and hitting balls, that help his team win?  Possibly none at all.  Possibly a great deal.  It's impossible to measure so this sort of discussion has a very finite limit as to how long it can go on and still be insightful and productive.  But if nothing else, David Eckstein knows what is required - if only the bare minimum that is required - of a shortstop on a World Series winner.  John McDonald, Marco Scutaro, these guys don't know if they are playing well enough to positively contribute to an elite team, or if the rest of the team is doing their jobs at an elite level.  That doesn't mean Eckstein recognizes problems with the team, fixes them, and we win the World Series.  But knowing what it feels like to be on a real winning team should count for something.

As for guys like Mattingly and Banks (not to cite extreme examples or anything), I don't think they are 'losers', with all the negative connotations that come with that term.  Their teams obviously lost in spite of them, not because of them.  I don't think 'winningness' is something a player has or doesn't have.  I think it is something learned - and something immeasurable.  But I suspect that Banks and Mattingly, for all their superior talents, are both still unsure of whether or not they really had what it took to win as players.  Of course they almost certainly DID have what it took to win, but whether or not they knew that and had the confidence that comes with that probably affected the value they brought to their teams.  In short, if I'm trading for Don Mattingly or a Don Mattingly clone who also has experienced a World Series championship, then I want the latter.

SK in NJ - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:46 PM EST (#177902) #

David Eckstein is a (barely) average hitter for a SS, and a below average fielder.  Using him instead of McDonald will have no significant effect on how the team does.

This is what I don't understand. Over the last three seasons, Eckstein has ranked in the top 10 in OBP among MLB short-stops (peaking at 4th in 2005) in each season. He has one very prominent skill, and he does it at an above average clip (get on base). OPS is always going to hurt players with little to no power, but that doesn't mean he's not a good player. Where does McDonald's .270 OBP rank? I'd imagine dead last, by a big margin.

If you look at the three year splits between Eckstein and McDonald, you'll notice that against RHP from 2005-07, Eckstein has a +/- .200 advantage in OBP and OPS over McDonald. .200! If you had a choice between a 1.000 OPS player or an .800 OPS player, which would you choose? Well, against RHP, that's essentially the difference between Eckstein and Mac (more like .750 versus .550, but you get the point). That's not a significant advantage? That's not a game changer?

Look, I want a great defensive player at every position as much as the next guy, but some times, you have to take a hit on defense when a significant offensive upgrade becomes available, and this is one of those cases. Eckstein is a SUBSTANTIAL improvement over McDonald offensively, and if Eck's defense is even average, then the team is way better off him with starting as many games as he can. I wonder if the same people backing McDonald here have the same rationale with Lind vs. Reed Johnson in LF?

I know people hate the "he's a winner" argument, but the fact that Eckstein has been on WS and playoff teams as the starting SS is significant because it means teams can win with him playing a lot. And his numbers haven't really changed throughout the years, so it's not like he's in the beginning of a decline either. Regardless, even if he was a career loser, I still wouldn't feel any differently about this move.

zeppelinkm - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 01:46 PM EST (#177903) #

Using him will have no significant impact? From what I've seen in these threads, it looks like he will contribute an additional 2 - 3 wins for the team (all other factors remaining equal).

3 wins is not significant? I would say 4.5 million dollars to add potentially 3 wins to an already good team is a great investment and is certainly significant, at least significant enough to warrant the respect it deserves.

And what I really don't understand - everyone is quick to point to Eckstein's and McDonald's last year (at least defensively) and go "That's how they do". There have been a few posts to the contrary, but it seems to be the theme that MacDonald's defence will not regress from last year, whereas Eckstein's surely well. Isn't this a bit biased? They are both in their early thirties. Eckstein, over the course of his career, has consistently been considered average to slightly above defensively and then he has one really bad season and suddenly that's how he's supposed to do from here on out?

There is no guarentee that MacDonald will be as good defensively as he was last year. People keep saying he did better last year because there wasn't the fear of getting yanked. But what the hell - the same thing happened in 2006 and he didn't turn into one of the most elite fielding shortstops in the game that season. But then it happened the next year...  explain to me again how in 2006, without the fear of being yanked, he didn't perform to his true levels, then in 2007, when again the fear of being yanked was eliminated, he suddenly did start performing to his true levels? Common! Honestly? He had a career year with the glove. He won't be that good in 2008 defensively. Thankfully, with this signing, we won't have to endure watching it first hand.

And, look at MacDonald's career splits for first half/second half.  He's been a full 70 points of OPS worse over the second half then the first half.

In 2006 he didn't regress overall in the 2nd half offensively - but his OBP did drop 23 points while his slugging increased by 40 points. He hit 3 home runs in the 2nd half which I will say with confidence explains the vast majority of his OPS increase but can also say will more than likely never happen again. So realistically Johnny MacDonald is well above average SS defensively - but not the superstar he looked like last year, and one of the worst hitters in all of baseball. 

Eckstein will be very close to average defensively but probably on the under side. He will be below average offensively as well, but such a substantial upgrade over MacDonald that his impact on the team's performance, dare I say it, will be significant.

I do believe in intangibles. I'm not going to say gritty, winner, or anything like that. I believe in momentum though. Johnny MacDonald is a momentum killer offensively, and I think his impact on the "bottom line" when it comes to runs scored is worse than just the cold hard numbers that say he sucks. It's worse because while that out he makes in the 6th inning with 2 runners on and 2 outs is only an 0 - 1 on the scorecard, it ends the rally, brings up the top of the lineup with nobody on base (so lower leverage situations), etc, etc.  I think in this sense, just to keep the line moving, Eckstein will help drastically to improve the overall team offence. 

GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 02:26 PM EST (#177908) #
But if nothing else, David Eckstein knows what is required - if only the bare minimum that is required - of a shortstop on a World Series winner.  John McDonald, Marco Scutaro, these guys don't know if they are playing well enough to positively contribute to an elite team, or if the rest of the team is doing their jobs at an elite level.  That doesn't mean Eckstein recognizes problems with the team, fixes them, and we win the World Series.  But knowing what it feels like to be on a real winning team should count for something.

Owen (and others)

The 2006 Cardinals WERE NOT A VERY GOOD TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They made the playoffs because every other team in the division was worse, then they were just luckier than the other teams in the glorified coin flip small sample size event called "playoffs"

To in any way inflate Ecksteins worth based on his being a member of that mediocre team is just plain dumb.  (IMO, of course)  :-)


Shak - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 02:35 PM EST (#177910) #
Great move by JP.  MacDonald belonds on the bench as a super utility man.
Jevant - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 02:35 PM EST (#177911) #
Think about this.

Here's 4 Different Career OPS+:

58
89
114
122

They are:

John McDonald
David Eckstein
Miguel Tejada
Derek Jeter

Upgrading from John McDonald to David Eckstein is the same level of upgrade as if we upgraded from David Eckstein to Derek Jeter.

That is a monstrous upgrade.

If you don't like OPS+, here's the OBP for the same 4 players:

.279
.351
.344
.388

That's right, David Eckstein gets on base more often than Miguel Tejada.  But look at the OBP you are gaining: .72 points of OBP.  Eckstein to Jeter?  Only .37.

Am I suggesting Eckstein is a good baseball player?  Not really (I don't even really like the guy).

But regardless of how you slice it, David Eckstein is a huge, ginormous upgrade over what we currently have, at least at the plate.

I have a hard time believing that John McD's glove next year would make up for .72 pts in OBP. 

I'm amazed by this, but that actually means that we can expect roughly 35+ extra times on base over the next year from our SS position than we thought we were going to get. 

Huge, folks, huge.

And I can't stand Eckstein.

GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 02:39 PM EST (#177912) #
I have a hard time believing that John McD's glove next year would make up for .72 pts in OBP.

I don't. 
Mylegacy - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:16 PM EST (#177916) #

Remember Boys and Girls - this isn't an either or game - we get to keep both the Minister of Defense and Super Guppy. If his tinyness can't cut it we just go back to JMac (if Jlo isn't available) - IF the little guy is OK we can still bring in Mr Glove to play the late innings.

What I like about this is that JP made a move he thought would improve the team even if it means he had to have 13 SS's on the team - in spring training it'll all come together. For the first time in YEARS, 1 through 9 there is no balck hole.

In addition, I count ELEVEN players that could be SIGNIFICANTLY better next season:

Halladay (He's due for a full healthy season)
Burnett (See Roy above)
McGowan (Ready to fully bloom?)
Johnson (Back from back surgery)
Overbay (BOTH pins out of his wrist)
Zaun (Broken hand - fixed)
Wells (Shoulder now OK)
Glaus (Healthy feets?)
Rios (Also due for a fully healthy season)
Hill (Molitor time?)
Thomas (FINALLY fully healthy - has sworn to come to camp ready to play in April not July!)

With all these guys at last years pace we were 13 out of first and 11 out of the wildcard. NO TEAM in the AL has has many opportunities to improve as we do. If 9 of these 11 step up we can WIN, NO QUESTION! The Yanks and Sox both have only 2 or three players that could have better seasons, and many that could have worse.

Excalabur - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:17 PM EST (#177917) #
Heck, even Eckstein should probably hit 9th: he's an average hitter for a shortstop.  That's not saying much.   He's not a good base stealer, and he doesn't hit for power.

I think that defense may be one of the undervalued things in baseball these days.  Everett, who seems to have about the same value as Eckstein, signed for about half as much money.  While putting all-world defense up at all positions may make the offensive innings a bit painful, it's not clear to me that it would be a bad way to build a ballclub, especially "on a budget".

ramone - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:23 PM EST (#177918) #

On an unrelated Eckstein note, the Jays have signed Fasano to a minor league deal but are still looking at other options as Bastian notes in his blog:

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said that the club may look at some free agents or for a catcher via trade. No kidding.

But, Ricciardi did note that Miguel Olivo, who was recently non-tendered by the Marlins, was indeed on the Jays' radar. Olivo isn't great defensively, but he has a solid arm and can hit lefties -- the criteria Toronto's looking for in the catcher who will back up Gregg Zaun.

http://mlbastian.mlblogs.com/

Greg - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:26 PM EST (#177919) #

Just cause there haven't been enough numbers already...

Linear Weights Batting Runs over the past 3 years, (multiplied out to a 550 PA season)

McDonald
2005: -5.8 (-17.3)
2006: -20.2 (-38.8)
2007: -19.2 (-29.9)

Eckstein
2005: -0.4 (-0.3)
2006: -13.8 (-13.8)
2007: -3.2 (-3.6)

So as sort-of-fulltime players over the past 3 years Eckstein looks like an average of 22 runs better than McDonald.
I guess the question is can we reasonably expect McDonald to be 20+ runs better than Eckstein on defence?

(This is an actual question, I'm no defence expert...can we expect that?) 

SK in NJ - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:29 PM EST (#177920) #

GregJP, if a .200 OPS gain against RHP (McDonald to Eckstein) isn't enough to off-set a defensive drop, where do you draw the line? Should Johnson start over Lind? Fasano over Zaun?

I can't believe this forum is supporting a .270 OBP/sub-.600 OPS defensive player this passionately. Is John McDonald that lovable, or am I missing something? I wonder if some of you were this kind to Cesar Izturis when people used him as an example of a bad trade done by Ricciardi?

Greg - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:31 PM EST (#177921) #
Although I am optimistic about the Jays offence this year, and your larger point stands...we can reasonably assume many players will be better, I don't know if you can say that about Thomas.

His 2007 performance was far better than I was expecting (both in terms of quantity and quality of play)
Expecting a 40 year old to play 150 games and put up a better line than .277/.377/.480 seems like a lot to ask.
clark - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 03:41 PM EST (#177922) #

mylegacy,

I agree with you on the potential for improvement next year.  I also love the optimism because really, what's the point in being a sports fan if you're a cynic.  Clearly it isn't making you happy and you should consider finding a new hobby. 

Let me just add two names to your list that could realistically make the Jays stronger in 08, BJ Ryan and Brandon League.  Surely to goodness we can have that one season where 80% of things go right and the Jays are a playoff club.  It could be this season.  Believing that is what keeps me going as a Jay fan as long as they reside in the AL East.

GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:01 PM EST (#177923) #
GregJP, if a .200 OPS gain against RHP (McDonald to Eckstein) isn't enough to off-set a defensive drop, where do you draw the line? Should Johnson start over Lind? Fasano over Zaun?

Good question.  At this point defensive metrics are still in their infancy, so it might not be yet possible to know.

I really don't think Eckstein is terrible, but quoting differences in OPS+ and OBP misses a big part of the picture IMO.

Anecdotally, I would prefer to have spectacular defense in the middle of the field over a guy with a career SLG south of 0.370 and vastly inferior defense.
Greg - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:22 PM EST (#177924) #

I think that's the crux of the issue.  There seems to be a tendency of thinking that once you get below a .310OBP or a .360SLG that everything is equally bad.  Which isn't true.

A .370 SLG is better than a .290 SLG
The same as .520 is better than .440

It's sort of like the old argument that it doesn't matter how bad he is at hitting, he's paid to defend.  (Or conversely, it doesn't matter how bad he is with the glove he's paid to hit)

bryanttelfer - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:25 PM EST (#177925) #

If a .200 OPS gain against RHP (McDonald to Eckstein) isn't enough to off-set a defensive drop, where do you draw the line? Should Johnson start over Lind? Fasano over Zaun?

I think one of the key points that is being missed is that you're looking at comparing a largely individual metric with a largely integrated one. One of the difficulties with fielding metrics is that, like ERA, it is as highly dependent on the field in play as much as individual ability. Players play differently depending on the abilities of those with them because fielding is meant to work as an integrated unit.

Eckstein in the lineup degrades the entire infield defense because he lacks the range to optimumly position the other three positions in a standard at bat. Limited range in your 3B and SS means we will be giving up a lot more hits to the left side. We will be more vulnerable to bunting down the line because Glaus will have to play back, which in turn means that you'll have to pull your LF away from the line to cover the zone. So that .200 OPS is up against the fielding percentage loss at all four infield positions and LF.

I think there's a bias towards offensive because it is easy to quantify with a few stats. Defensive is a far more difficult beast, which is why even the best metrics still have major issues, trying to track and balance against different positions, player interactions and protean setups, as opposed to fixed positions like batting and pitching. McDonald's defense has a legitimate value that could surpass Eckstein's offensive, but you can't simply compare lines and dismiss defense minded fans as being without grounds.

Greg - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:37 PM EST (#177926) #

I've always wondered this, how consistent is defence?

We all know to watch out for hitters who have a bunch of mediocre seasons and then one very good one.  But I never really hear about the same thing with defensive seasons.  John McDonald was spectacular in 2007, and has always been a good defensive SS (I assume).  But if 2007 was much better than any other defensive year he has had, (once again, I'm assuming here, anyone feel free to tell me I'm wrong) wouldn't it be hasty to assume he's going to be just as good in his next few seasons?

Ozzieball - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:52 PM EST (#177927) #
BrianTFelter you are a man after my hear. In response Greg's question about the PMoD's defence, here's his SS stats from hardball times.

2007: .845
2006: .837
2005: .806 (detroit)
2005: .912 (toronto)

So no, 2007 does not appear to be an aberration. There is a slight risk of natural decline, but as the PMoD's mentor Omar Vizquel's defensive mastery shows, the defence can hang around long after the bat is no longer a weapon.

JayWay - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:54 PM EST (#177928) #
Zaun rakes against lefties, does he not? The front office seems to be applying conventional wisdom as it pertains to splits where it does not apply.
bryanttelfer - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 04:54 PM EST (#177929) #

I've always wondered this, how consistent is defence?

Depends on the player. There are people who finally 'get it' like Rios or Lind, but you have to have the physical tools there as well. McDonald, as I can remember, worked behind Omar Vizquel as a shortstop, learning a lot of the craft from him. You can actually see they shift R/L very similarly. He was very solid in 2006, but hit a wall pretty rapidly once moving to the everyday position. This year he conditioned as a starter, which I think might have had a lot to do with his increased physical presence in the field.

There's no reason to assume 2007 is an outlier. Most of the remarkable nature of his play comes from reading the ball off the bat well, positioning to each batter/pitcher combo, and gauging depth. It's hard to consider all of those things just a fluke. Could he? Sure, but it seems less likely considering his year's success wasn't based on a sudden giant physical improvement.

TA - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 05:12 PM EST (#177930) #
As per Rotoworld (no source mentioned) the Jays have re-signed Fasano to a minor league deal.
Axil - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 05:29 PM EST (#177931) #
Does signing Fasano to a minor league deal mean that we could still sign another catcher?
Ryan Day - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 05:45 PM EST (#177932) #
His [Thomas] 2007 performance was far better than I was expecting (both in terms of quantity and quality of play)
Expecting a 40 year old to play 150 games and put up a better line than .277/.377/.480 seems like a lot to ask.


This guy did okay.

Okay, that's kind of a facetious response, but I think it's difficult to predict players at this level. Frank Thomas is one of the best hitters ever to play baseball, so who's to say what he'll do when he's 40? Personally, I think  that if he's healthy, he'll hit at around the same level as 2007. He was very strong in the second half - 306/378/524 - so that's a good sign.
Weez - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 05:47 PM EST (#177933) #

This whole Ekstein and his defence thing has me thinking, could the Jays possibly play Ekstein at second and Hill at short? Or would this open a whole new can of worms? Do you think J.P. and Gibbons would even consider this?

 

The Blue Jays website is quoting J.P. as saying he is looking at other catching options outside of Fassano. The Fassano signing is pretty much for depth.

Weez - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 05:53 PM EST (#177934) #
It also states that the Jays are interested in Miguel Olivo.
Chuck - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 06:12 PM EST (#177935) #

Zaun rakes against lefties, does he not?

There's no need to speculate on questions like this. The information is all out there.

Lifetime vs LHP: 274/366/389
Lifetime vs RHP: 248/338/388

He's about 30 OPS points better vs LHP. In 2007, the skew was 50 points.

Because of the paucity of LHB catchers, the team's backup is almost certainly going to be a RHB, almost certainly with a skew that favours them against LHP. Estrada skews the other way (682/740 careers OPS vs LHP/RHP) but may be after more money than Ricciardi is interested in paying.

Chuck - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 06:18 PM EST (#177936) #
This whole Ekstein and his defence thing has me thinking, could the Jays possibly play Ekstein at second and Hill at short?

If it had been the organization's plan to move Hill to SS, they had any number of real second basemen to pick from both last year and this. Eckstein was a second baseman in the minors so it's been a long time that he's spent any considerable time at the position. He is not so wonderful a player that he would warrant moving a gold glove caliber second baseman off the position so that he could relearn a position he hasn't played since 2000.
ayjackson - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 06:46 PM EST (#177938) #

There's no need to speculate on questions like this.

Chuck, are those pre-steroid stats really relevant??  The three-year splits from ESPN might give us a better idea of his current ability.

vs.  LHP   .302/.401/.451

vs.  RHP  .240/.339/.398

Seamus - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 06:57 PM EST (#177939) #
Keith Law says the move neither makes the Jays worse or better.  He had previously written that Eckstein was one of the top 20 free agents this off season.  However, he now says he assumed any organization interested would only be considering him at 2nd base - it never occurred to him that anyone would actually consider him to play short.  Therefore he is not a valuable signing.  The article is pretty condescending.

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3155273&name=law_keith&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fespn%2fblog%2findex%3fentryID%3d3155273%26name%3dlaw_keith

Granted, a lot of fans on this board share the same opinion as Law, but has he ever written anything remotely positive about the Blue Jays?  You really get the impression that he has no desire to be remotely objective when it comes to his former team.  I'm sure that if they hadn't signed Eckstein, Law would have written about how the Jays have "an offensive hole at shortstop".

I know it's just sports, but I really find his lack of objectivity to be really unprofessional. 

Mylegacy - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 07:16 PM EST (#177945) #

Firstly, KLaw does not always write bad things about the JP and the Jays.

I remember he once wrote, "Even when JP was falling down drunk, he still seemed to have a big nose." Now, if that's not a compliment I don't know what is!

GregJP - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 07:43 PM EST (#177949) #

Firstly, KLaw does not always write bad things about the JP and the Jays.

I remember he once wrote, "Even when JP was falling down drunk, he still seemed to have a big nose." Now, if that's not a compliment I don't know what is!

LOL    Awesome dude.

I like Law's stuff a lot, and tend to agree with him and Wilner on this issue.



Chuck - Friday, December 14 2007 @ 07:58 PM EST (#177953) #

Chuck, are those pre-steroid stats really relevant??  The three-year splits from ESPN might give us a better idea of his current ability.
vs.  LHP   .302/.401/.451
vs.  RHP  .240/.339/.398

Not sure if you're serious or taking the mickey. I'm assuming it's the latter but will nonetheless take the bait and answer as if it's the former.

First, he's only had 240 AB total vs LHP over the past three years, so it's not a huge number we're talking about here. Second, turn 14 singles into outs vs LHP and he's right around 242/341/391, basically exactly what he's done against RHP in that time.

So, these are some interesting steroids we're speculating about. Basically, they don't help you at all as a LHB, but they help you hit singles as a RHB. And they don't do much for your your ISO, i.e., your power. You reckon all that's written on the label?

92-93 - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 02:25 AM EST (#177964) #
I know the numbers say that Zaun hits lefties better, but I think it's the opposite , because when I think of Zauner taking one deep it's always a chip shot that lands either in the right field bullpen or just makes it to the outfield deck. Seriously, he needs some stronger stuff.
TamRa - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 04:19 AM EST (#177968) #
Brain storm, signifying nothing really. If we assume the Padres really didn't want Barrett back and would deal him pretty easily, then I propose we send them Zaun, Scutaro (or McDonald) and some B or C list prospect like Yates or Matthws or Collins for Michael Barrett.

We get a real first string catcher (assuming he hits to his career norms) - not that I don't think Zaun is but we always seem to be looking to "helP" him every offseason -  that we can have an ordinary back-up for, we get rid of the problem of having TWO back-up middle infielders making around 2 mil, we open up a roster spot for a run at McPherson (or at least someone who can hit a little at 3B should Glaus need to be on the sideline)...

And if Barrett does play well for us we have an inside track on extending him beyond this coming season.


rtcaino - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 04:57 AM EST (#177969) #

Some seem to be neglecting the point of view that OBP is more valuebale than SLG. Eckstein's incremental offensive contribution over MacDonald is under appreciatd using OPS.

Chuck - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 08:49 AM EST (#177971) #
ANationalAcrobat - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 09:13 AM EST (#177972) #
Nice link Chuck. Let's give it the FJM treatment...

Knows how to win
Scrappy
Mindset
Attitude
Showing up every day
Ready to give 100%
Not a pitch off, not a day off
Small
Stubborn
Small

Interesting as well that he was teammates with Glaus on the left side of the infield from 01-04. I hadn't made that connection.
CeeBee - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 09:29 AM EST (#177973) #
Gee, I hope he knows how to get his uniform dirty too :)
brent - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 10:46 AM EST (#177976) #
Minnesota has signed Everett and Lamb. Isn't that what the Jays were supposed to do? Let's check back in one year and see which GM saw things better- JP or the one in Minnesota. I think this might be a good example because it is a case where a lot of posters advocated what Minnesota did while JP did something else.
Mike Green - Saturday, December 15 2007 @ 02:09 PM EST (#177980) #
He's a "we" ballplayer. Pardon the pun.  I always found it amusing when Sparky Anderson used that phrase to describe Enos Cabell because of Enos'  obvious nickname.
Excalabur - Sunday, December 16 2007 @ 05:18 AM EST (#178000) #
Wildrose was using Lwts, I believe, so not everybody is neglecting that.

OPS is, however, easy to calculate from readily available stats, so it gets used a lot. 

There's also the minor detail that a run saved and a run earned are not as equivalent as they might seem...

HollywoodHartman - Sunday, December 16 2007 @ 07:50 PM EST (#178008) #
"There's also the minor detail that a run saved and a run earned are not as equivalent as they might seem..."

Can you elaborate on that?
Leigh - Sunday, December 16 2007 @ 08:14 PM EST (#178009) #
Can you elaborate on that?
 
Every run scored is less valuable than the last, because as the run environment gets higher, the value of an individual run gets lower.  Conversely, runs saved get progressively more valuable.
HollywoodHartman - Sunday, December 16 2007 @ 10:02 PM EST (#178012) #
So technically a phenominal pitching staff with a modest offensive club would be more valuable than an equally amazing hitting club with an equally modest staff?
ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, December 16 2007 @ 10:08 PM EST (#178013) #
Every run scored is less valuable than the last, because as the run environment gets higher, the value of an individual run gets lower. Conversely, runs saved get progressively more valuable. Does that notion really apply to all runs? If you are trailing 5-4 in the 8th inning, should you be less likely to pinch-hit than if you were trailing 5-1, because the 5th you score is less valuable than the 2nd? Isn't the reverse true in that situation?
Excalabur - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 01:17 AM EST (#178014) #
Or that the 'equality' isn't obvious.  If you look up an article on "Pitching Runs" there's a detailed analysis on the offensive value of pitching, though I'm not sure it's the best or most recent work on conversions between offensive and defensive contributions to success
Ozzieball - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 08:03 AM EST (#178018) #
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_expectation
Try plugging values into the pythag formula. 900 runs for and 800 runs against returns an expected winning percetnage of 55.86
600 runs for a 500 runs against returns an expected winning percentage of 59.01
100 runs for and 0 against for obviously returns an expected winning percentage of 100

I think it returns to the old adage that you can score 10 runs and still give up 11, but if you give up 0 runs you can't lose.

Chuck - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 08:17 AM EST (#178019) #

Does that notion really apply to all runs? If you are trailing 5-4 in the 8th inning, should you be less likely to pinch-hit than if you were trailing 5-1, because the 5th you score is less valuable than the 2nd? Isn't the reverse true in that situation?

You're confusing a context-free generalization with a specific case. Generally speaking, a 5th run will have less marginal value than a 4th. There will be instances, as in your example, where this is not the case. There are instances where a 12th run has extreme value, i.e., in an 11-11 game. But as these instances are scarce, the marginal value of a 12th run is, generally speaking, much less than those that preceeded it.

Mike Green - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 09:41 AM EST (#178023) #
Chuck, I can't find the source but as I recall it, the win value of runs 1-5 is pretty comparable in a 4.5-5 run environment but it declines sharply after that.  Did Bill James do a study in one of the abstracts?  If so, I am sure that there has been a more modern look at it somewhere.
Chuck - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 10:40 AM EST (#178025) #

I recall Bill James noodling with an adjusted RBI stat where he specifically bemoaned Don Baylor's MVP which, he felt, was the byproduct of his 130-whatever RBIs (he was dumbfounded that anyone could conclude that Baylor was more valuable than Grich). I think he tried to ascribe a true value to each run batted in based on its incremental worth and came away with the conclusion that many of Baylor's RBIs were valueless add-ons in blowouts.

Or something like that.

I'll have to dig up my Abstracts and have a look. Shouldn't be too hard to find, presumably being in the Abstract that followed Baylor's MVP.

You'd like to think that someone else somewhere has researched and published incremental run values based on the different run environments.

Jimbag - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 10:47 AM EST (#178027) #
I have to say I'm not especially fond of blanket statements such as each run scored is less valuable than the ones that preceded it.

In an 11-1 game, if you hit a 3 run shot to make it 14-1, granted, those runs are pretty much only stats-padders. But giving up a 3 run shot to make the game 11-4 isn't exactly the end of the world, either.

When the runs are scored, and how they effect the outcome of the game - that's what matters. And that isn't as easily quantifiable as some would like to think. I hate to be banal, but all that matters at the end of the day is if you scored more runs than the other team - whatever the total combined score happens to be. Every run you score when you win is of value.

And that is why they still play the game out on the grass, instead of in the lab.

Mike Green - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 10:57 AM EST (#178028) #
The game may be played on the field, but there is a manager in the dugout making decisions informed by his own understanding of the relative importance of the first and succeeding runs in the game. 
Excalabur - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 12:12 PM EST (#178031) #
Every run you score when you win is of value.

Argh!  What about the runs the other team doesn't score?  How do you compare defence and offense? What is the relative value of a run scored and a run saved? What is the value of an out made vs. a play missed? It is quantifiable. Most things are; and yes, we are neglecting things like when in the game the runs are scored, but the point remains: the 11th run, generally less useful than the fourth.
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 12:15 PM EST (#178032) #
You're confusing a context-free generalization with a specific case. Generally speaking, a 5th run will have less marginal value than a 4th. There will be instances, as in your example, where this is not the case. There are instances where a 12th run has extreme value, i.e., in an 11-11 game. But as these instances are scarce, the marginal value of a 12th run is, generally speaking, much less than those that preceeded it.
Not many runs are scored in context-free environments. I agree that in blowouts add-on runs are of less significance. And it may well be that for the Yankees to add runs scored to the 953 or so they scored last year is probably the wrong approach. The Jays are in a situation though where they were one of the bottom offensive teams in the league, and did particularly badly against righthanded pitching. I'm not convinced that additional runs they can score are worth any less than runs they prevent.
Excalabur - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 12:19 PM EST (#178034) #
Here's that pitching runs created article from THT: the important thing here isn't the stat itself, but the discussion of the relative value of runs saved and earned.

The extreme example, for those too lazy to read the link, is that, in a 5 run-per-game environment, a team is 93.4% likely to win if they give up 1 run, while to win the same fraction of the time they need to score 15.4ish. 



GregH - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 03:20 PM EST (#178042) #

Just for something a little lighter - in St. Louis you can buy a David Eckstein breakfast cereal called "Ecks O's" - promoted on his wife's website.  http://www.ashleydrane.com/

 

 

lexomatic - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 03:49 PM EST (#178043) #

 The Jays are in a situation though where they were one of the bottom offensive teams in the league, and did particularly badly against righthanded pitching. I'm not convinced that additional runs they can score are worth any less than runs they prevent.

I think that part of the problem was how they were scoring the runs. unfortunately run support isn't consistant winning 11-1 looks great in a boxscore but isn't great when you need that 1 extra run to tie or win.

anyone have a link handy with Jays situational records by score? I think i remember seeing something like that somewhere.

Chuck - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 04:41 PM EST (#178048) #
in St. Louis you can buy a David Eckstein breakfast cereal called "Ecks O's"

Grow up big and strong, just like David. Oh wait, you're 10 years old? Never mind. You're probably already as big and strong as David.
John Northey - Monday, December 17 2007 @ 04:56 PM EST (#178049) #
Heh. Wonder if Eckso's will be for sale up here soon but with a blue background. Funny reading the guestbook on his wife's site where people are asking for personal appearances and the like from Eck. I suspect that is a common part of life for both athletes and tv people (I'm sure if I dug in more I'd find ones asking for her to come to something). Must be hard knowing when it is real and when it is a fake request (ie: the sick girl on the board right now, is she really sick or just someone who wants an athlete to visit).
Jimbag - Tuesday, December 18 2007 @ 02:03 AM EST (#178060) #
Generally. And again, generalizations are "blanket statements".

If you hit a sac fly to bring in the 3rd run in the 8th inning in a game in which the starter for your team is pitching a shutout, it seems like a meaningless run at the time. Then the opposition rallies for 2 in the top of the 9th - at the time, the extra run seemed like simple insurance, but it turns out to be the difference in the game.

The point I'm trying to make is that you don't even know in the context of one single ballgame how significant a run scored is going to be - let alone looking at all runs scored after 162 ballgames. It's a fool's errand, and it cannot be used as a matrix to gauge importance of runs for vs. runs against.

I realize baseball is the most stats-happy sport ever invented, and that if I knew where to look I could find out what A-Rod's OBP is for tuesdays that were sunny in the morning but got increasingly overcast as the afternoon progressed - but I doubt his performance would be significantly different on those tuesdays than they would be on an overcast sunday.

Situational hitting, situational defense - is a sac fly the right play given the score and the inning? Is playing behind the runner the right thing to do, or should you try to work a ground ball into a sure out at first?

These things may be quantifiable, but when you start working all that into the equation, it's getting a little too esoteric for real-time mathematics. And if anyone thinks that all the variables in play are somehow magically worked into a season's-end overview...well, it'd be insane to think that 4500 outs (never mind plays that didn't result in outs) over the course of a season can be reflected accurately in a simple and easy-to-read number.....you can't distill that much playing time into a simple + or -. I know stats guys think that people who play "hunches" are nuts, but what's the difference between trusting your "head" too much, or trusting your "gut" too much? Neither one is going to be right 100% of the time.

Excalabur - Tuesday, December 18 2007 @ 01:08 PM EST (#178067) #
In the context of evaluating player talent, say "Is David Eckstein better than John McDonald", generalizations are useful.  We know that Eckstein's a better hitter, and that McDonald is a better hitter.

But how much? 


Due to the law of large numbers amongst other things, while we can't say that the third run scored tonight (or the third one prevented) will be the critical winning run, over the course of a 162 game season we can say that, on average, extending a 2-0 lead to a 3-0 lead is worth, say, an additional 12% chance of winning. In fact, we can do much better than that: this is what WPA is predicated on, for instance.

While one could look up A-Rod's OBP for sunny Tuesdays, this stat can probably be shown to be useless in various simple ways, primarily by seeing if it is a better predictor of A-Rod's OBP on sunny tuesdays than his overall OBP. The average run value of a missed play, however, IS a useful metric, as is the value of a single vs. that of a walk vs. that of a flyout. While they vary on a given night due to context, over the course of the season, context averages out.
So, if you're unwilling to use stats to do it, how else are you going to quantify the difference in the quality of two players?
Do you want defensive wizards, big sluggers, or little speedy guys?
HollywoodHartman - Tuesday, December 18 2007 @ 03:22 PM EST (#178070) #
I want all 3 of those in one player.
John Northey - Tuesday, December 18 2007 @ 03:59 PM EST (#178072) #
Defensive wizards, big sluggers, or little speedy guys?

As a fan I enjoy the speedy guys more than the other two (loved watching the Cardinals of the mid-80's on tv). However, for victories the defense mixed with sluggers will win out over those speedy guys most of the time.

314 stolen bases in '85 for that Cardinal team. A guy who reached on his own power just 220 times stole 110 bases (Vince Coleman). 5 guys with 30+ stolen bases with 2 more in double digits. For comparison the 85 Jays (who won 99 games and were known for power/speed combos) had just 144 stolen bases with 4 guys over 20 stolen bases and 1 more over 10 while last year they had just 57 stolen bases with 2 guys at 10 or more (Wells & Rios). Only one team stole more than the 85 Jays in all of MLB - the Mets with 200.

Sigh. I miss the 80's at times like this.
Zach - Friday, December 28 2007 @ 11:00 PM EST (#178319) #
Some tongue-in-cheek research into statistically quantifying the 'intangibles'. 

If he stays healthy -- and gritty -- over the next half-decade, Eckstein has a shot at becoming the all-time leader.
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