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.
Crazy, as Castillo would seem to be a guy who you’d think would have a positive influence on a kid like Jose.
I wouldn’t mind either one. Eckstein’s lack of experience playing 2B worries me, but I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist for him to figure it out.
And predictably, the statheads are against it while the old schoolers are for it.
Ding ding ding! Round two!
Especially if they were able to do the right thing, and work in a reasonable way of playing:
* Reyes at SS
* Eckstein at 2Bag; while Gotay is there in the backdrop.
* Reyes needs a day? â€” Eckstein shifts over to SS.
* Eckstein needs a day off at 2nd? â€” Gotay is there as the left-handed stick.
That way, no one gets â€œfatiguedâ€ down the stretch â€” (as everybodyâ€™s been so quick to point as â€œvalidationâ€ for Reyesâ€™ struggles.)
This makes alot of sense; especially since Castilloâ€™s already been rumored as a â€œbad influenceâ€ on Reyes (true or not â€” itâ€™s been speculated) and basically runs like a wounded thoroughbred on the basepaths.
It also gets Gotay some reps at either 2nd or SS, without having to â€œworryâ€ about him as a primary defensive 2nd baseman â€” something thatâ€™s totally overblown anyway.
I think Eckstein could be an intriguing pickup. Probably the most annoying player in the world to watch, but heâ€™s a â€œgamerâ€, and thatâ€™s translated over the years into â€œwinnerâ€ as well.
Canâ€™t argue with a guy who has 2 world series rings, and the God-given ability of a 14-year old. He made the best of it, and itâ€™s worked out for the teams heâ€™s played on in Anaheim and St. Louis.
Check with Eck is right â€” it couldnâ€™t hurt!