Check with Eck
So the “buzz” surrounding the Mets today is David Eckstein.
Now, before we go nutty about the possibilities, understand that there has been no talk from anyone inside the Mets’ organization regarding Eckstein. Rather, it is pure speculation tossed out by Ken Rosenthal and Joel Sherman. (Actually, Rosenthal might have come up with the idea after reading Sherman’s column.)
Here’s the irony: Paul LoDuca is to Jason Kendall as Luis Castillo is to Eckstein. In other words, Eckstein is essentially the same player as Castillo, so if you’re on board with bringing Castillo back, but he doesn’t return, then you’re probably cool with Eckstein coming to New York.
David Eckstein is 32, the same age as Castillo. They’re both scrappy, heady ballplayers who play hard, can bunt well, run the bases intelligently and with good speed — they’re fairly equal in doing “all the little things”. They both have World Series rings, so they “know how to win”. They’d both fit nicely in the #2 hole, and they both play above-average defense. They also both are punch and judy hitters who spray the ball to all shallow areas of the outfield — but they make consistent contact and are good hit-and-run men. Additionally, they’re both tenacious and annoying little pests, always fighting and seeming to come up with the bloop hit or diving play to break their opponent’s back — the kind of guy you want on your team, but not playing against you.
If there are any differences between the two, Castillo will probably walk more often and have a higher OBP. He also has more experience turning the DP from the second base side. Further, Castillo can hit from both sides of the plate. If (a big if at that) Castillo’s knees are healthy, he might steal a few more bases. Otherwise, they’re basically the same player.
What I like about having either Eckstein or Castillo — in addition to the above — is that they both hit well from the right side, which means Ruben Gotay could have an opportunity to stick around another year and get some ABs on Thursday afternoons against righthanders (assuming the planets line up according to Willie Randolph’s master plan).
Now, if there is any truth at all to Ed Coleman’s remark that Luis Castillo is a “bad influence”, I’d think the Mets would consider Eckstein a top candidate for second base. However, I get the feeling — at this point in time — that they’re leaning toward Castillo as their #1 choice.