Monday, July 11, 2011

6 comments Wanted: One MLB Team To Hire a Scrappy, Hustling Ex-World Series MVP

You all have probably felt the void. The patron saint of Bottom of the Barrel, David Eckstein, currently doesn't have a job playing professional baseball. As the ex-co-owner of David Eckstein's Baseball-Reference page, we need to keep David in our thoughts at this time. It doesn't appear he is struggling emotionally, but I think he's just keeping on a scrappy face for us. As Mike DiGiovanna tells us Eckstein isn't retired, but has made a decision not to play baseball at this point. Then DiGiovanna goes Eckstein-crazy over David Eckstein's massive amount of grit and starts writing gibberish.

I do realize my Twitter page says I am the proud co-owner of David Eckstein's Baseball-Reference page, and I don't plan to update it. I figure if Eckstein can continuously live off his 2006 World Series MVP award and "helping" the Angels win the 2002 World Series I can live off once co-owning his Baseball-Reference page. Let's see what's new in Scrappy McFuckstein's world.

David Eckstein is not playing baseball, but the scrappy 36-year-old infielder

It's like a disease or a reflex. Whenever a sportswriter says "David Eckstein," the word "scrappy" has to appear somewhere in the sentence. Actually, it is just lazy writing to fall back on a description like that since simply saying "....not playing baseball, but the 36-year-old infielder..." would suffice.

who helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series and won World Series most-valuable-player honors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 has not officially retired.

It's always awkward when a player hasn't officially retired and he doesn't currently have a job with a team yet. At a certain point, you need to save face and just officially retire, because very few things are sadder than a player who can't get a job with a professional team but insists he hasn't retired. I would probably rather see a player get a job with another team and struggle than a player who insists he isn't retired, but can't seem to find a job. At some point, this refusal to submit to reality leads a player to Japan, Russia or another country to play professionally in another league.

What's sadder to think about in these two situations:

-Stephon Marbury retires when getting no interest from NBA teams and goes about his life.

-Stephon Marbury doesn't retire and is now playing for the Foshan Dralions in China.

Personally, I think combined with his bizarre offseason webcam antics last year, it is more sad Marbury is playing in China. Think about how you felt when you learned Allen Iverson was going to play basketball in Turkey. Personally, I was sad.

I'm not sad about Eckstein not currently having a job, simply because it prevents the media from shoving the typical "scrappy, plays the game right, and he hustles" storylines down my throat. Apparently, even when Eckstein isn't officially retired, we still get the same stories about him, so maybe there is no avoiding this crap.

Nor has the game retired him, like it has so many veterans who simply fade away.

Wow, this is uncomfortable. has. If no MLB teams want to pay him to play for them in a capacity Eckstein believes he deserves, he may still have the game running through his grit-based veins, but the game doesn't appear to want him at this time.

Eckstein, who played the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the San Diego Padres, got an offer to sign with a club four weeks ago and turned it down.

I can understand that decision though, look what club offered to sign Eckstein.

David Eckstein wants you to know Rancho San Diego Little League, David Eckstein won't just sign with any team. Quit offering him the position to compete at shortstop on the 11-12 team. Little Jimmy Morell will move to second base from shortstop if you want David Eckstein on your team because an ex-World Series MVP won't compete with anyone for a starting job.

He said he received more offers — including major league deals —last winter than he ever has a free agent but has spent the last few months working for his wife,

This is getting even more sad. When a player has to explain, that yes, he is receiving offers from Major League teams, and yes, he wants to continue to play baseball it tells me two things:

1. The player is getting offered a minor league deal.

2. Eckstein's ego believes he deserves more than a minor league deal. So assuming this is correct, I am supposed to feel sympathy and be able to relate to a baseball player who miscalculates his own current skill set? No thanks, I won't do that.

So I am sad that Eckstein, a guy who claims to only think about the team and just loves to play the game of baseball, has too much ego to accept a lesser role on a team.

and not diving around infields and driving up pitch counts.

And OPSing 0.647 last year, while getting on-base at a 0.321, which is the lowest percentage of his career.

"I made a decision not to play," said Eckstein, who was in Angel Stadium on Wednesday to visit his brother Rick, the Nationals' batting coach.

Are there any physical reasons? "No," Eckstein said.

Gritty. Hustling. Eckstein.

Asked whether he hoped to play again, Eckstein, who also visited Manager Mike Scioscia and several players in the Angels clubhouse, shrugged his shoulders.

"As soon as some team panics because of a lack of infield depth and chooses to give me a Major League deal to where my ego is satisfied, I will play again. Mainly it is just about what I believe myself to be worth, not what my actual worth may be. Have I ever mentioned I have read all the press about how awesome I am and I believe it all?"

"It totally has to be the right situation, but when you say that, it's like you're disrespecting the clubs that have talked to you," Eckstein said.

You certainly sound like a bit of a diva who doesn't want to compete for a job or take a minor league deal because you are "too good for that" or don't perceive that as your current value. Of course, this is David Eckstein, so he would NEVER be guilty of doing this because we've been told for years just how perfect and unselfish he truly is.

Much of David Eckstein's value goes well beyond statistics —

And here we go with this crap again...

I have always found it interesting many of the same people who defend David Eckstein against the ire of the grit-hating public are also people who love the intangibles of a player, but these people also don't enjoy going beyond basic statistics to evaluate a player. Maybe I'm stereotyping here, but that's the way I feel. It is the use of statistics when it goes to prove a point these people want to prove. Statistics show that Player X is better than Player Y when determining the Cy Young/MVP, which is why wins and RBI's aren't misleading numbers. This is while Player Z may only have 35 RBI's, but his value can't be measured in statistics because it isn't convenient for the point trying to be proven.

When it is convenient to see CC Sabathia has 21 wins and Felix Hernandez has 13 wins that's when the statistics speak for themselves, but once a player seems to exhibit some sort of scrappiness then the statistics no longer speak for what that player provides to a team and that player has intangibles.

So basically, if Felix Hernandez was a short (most likely) white pitcher who "got the most out of his ability" then everyone would have supported him to win the Cy Young last year. Unfortunately, only intelligent people supported and helped him win the Cy Young.

his grit and desire,

No other players care as much as David Eckstein cares. It's an intangible he has which can't be measured, but is measured to be more than anyone else currently playing baseball.

his knowledge of and instincts for the game,

"He does what it takes to win."

his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by advancing runners with ground-ball outs.

Listen here people! David Eckstein is not afraid to get a ground ball out. While Rickie Weeks is trying to get a base hit to selfishly get himself on-base, David Eckstein cares more about the team than himself and doesn't care if he gets on-base as long as the runners advance. Trying to get a base hit to advance the runners is selfish, getting out to advance the runners helps the team in a way trying to selfishly get on-base doesn't.

It appeared several teams focused on Eckstein's statistics, which are not overwhelming — he had a .280 average, .345 on-base percentage and 1,414 hits in 10 big league seasons —

What? Why would a team focus on a player's statistics when paying him to play baseball? Albert Pujols is a great baseball player, but the smart teams won't focus on this when he becomes a free agent and will focus on the delicious chocolate chip pancakes he makes in the clubhouse before games. THAT'S the real value to the team, breakfast creations, not his selfish insistence on getting on-base at the expense of the team. These are the intangibles that make Albert Pujols worth millions, not getting all over-focused on his statistics.

Given the choice between signing Rickie Weeks to play second base and signing David Eckstein, the stupid teams would choose Weeks based on the simple premise he is actually very good at his job and is the better baseball player. The smart teams don't focus on statistics and choose Eckstein because you can't measure his value with a tangible benefit, but you measure his value using only non-existent measurements called intangibles.

and not his overall value.

Did David Eckstein pay Mike DiGiovanna to write this column? No sportswriter worth a crap would actually write teams pay too much attention to a player's statistics and not the player's "overall value." Aren't statistics part of a player's overall value? How can any person with a straight face truly believe Eckstein has more grit and desire than another player? Eckstein seems to be trying really hard because he is so damn small and he seriously has the weakest throwing arm I've ever seen on a grown man.

If Eckstein had so much grit and desire why doesn't he grit it out and desire to play professional baseball in situation he doesn't feel is ideal? What kind of leader, who claims he loves the game of baseball so much it hasn't left him, avoids any situation he feels isn't good enough for him to play baseball? A real leader would accept a job that pays him to play baseball, because he loves the game so much, and then use his leadership abilities to help the team out. A player who was really willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team would accept a situation that isn't "right" if it makes the team better. Eckstein doesn't seem to want to do any of these things.

"I think in this game you get to a point where you know what you can do, and you want to be in a situation where people believe in you," Rick Eckstein said.

Translation: Eckstein wants either (a) a Major League contract, not a minor league contract and/or (b) an opportunity to start for a MLB team. It isn't selfish to want this, but it is also hard to believe if Eckstein is truly holding out for this then he is as selfless and team-oriented as we are made to believe. If Eckstein's skill set was as great as we are led to believe and he only cares about the team as much as we are led to believe, then I would think any opportunity he received to play in the majors would be welcome.

"David has been a great attribute to baseball for 10 years. He brings a certain element to every team he's been a part of, and at some point, what he brings, people don't see it as a value. So, he's decided [he won't play]."

This scrappy, hustling, team-oriented-only guy is taking his ball and going home because teams don't see just how fucking great he is. Sounds pretty selfish and not selfless doesn't it?

Does Rick Eckstein, who seven months ago donated a kidney to another Eckstein brother, Kenny, think David will play again?

"If the right situation presents itself, absolutely," he said.

Rick sounds about as insufferable as I imagine David Eckstein truly may be.

"David knows who he is. It's that simple."

Here's a startling revelation. We know who David Eckstein is as well. He is a career .280/.345/.355 hitter with a career OPS+ of 83 and WAR of 21.2 for his career.

Eckstein, the clutchiest of postseason players, also has a .278/.345/.335 line in the postseason. If this performance could be measured by statistics, which I am constantly told it can't, I would say he is about as good in the postseason as he is in the regular season.

It seems the rest of the majors know who David Eckstein is as well, and based on this knowledge, it may explain why a major league contract or starting job isn't being handed to a declining 36 year old second baseman. I think the problem is that David Eckstein and those around him can't accept who Eckstein is. It certainly seems that way.

I hope this is the last David Eckstein "hustle, grit, scrappy, intangibles, the statistics don't matter" piece I ever read. I doubt it though.


JimA said...

He has to retire soon. Then we can start the countdown to his being elected to the Hall of Fame.

My question is: who is the grittiest player in baseball with Eckstein?

Bengoodfella said...

JimA, that's the only reason I am mad Eckstein hasn't retired. I want to start the Eckstein for Hall of Fame campaign. I think I'd love to do it and do it all tongue in cheek. If I were bored enough, I would do it.

The grittiest player in baseball? Peter Bourjos? Or quite possibly, Dustin Pedroia?

jacktotherack said...

The grittiest player in baseball is Sam Fuld, hands down. He's the latest tiny, white, mediocre player that the talking heads at ESPN cream themselves over. The difference between Fuld and Eckstein is at least Fuld is a above average outfielder while Eckstein has the arm of a 5th grader at SS.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I that that may be the correct answer. Curse me for not getting that one correct. I even wrote a post about his grittiness. We know in the NFL it is Danny Woodhead.

If forced to choose between those two with a gun to my head, I would take Fuld on defense (even though they play different positions), but Eckstein possibly on offense. Overall, and this is Sophie's Choice all over again, I would...just get shot in the head b/c I can't choose between such grit.

Anonymous said...

Pedroia is small and white but he's a much better player than Eckstein

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I could never disagree with that. He's TOO good, which is why he doesn't get quite as much scrappy/gutsy talk as other players. Pedroia is the most successful gritty player.