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David Eckstein: Not Very Good, Not a Problem

Daniel at Friar Forecast wishes the Padres had signed free agent second baseman Felipe Lopez to replace incumbent David Eckstein. Of Eckstein, Daniel says, “He is a terrible player. His fielding and batting are both below average.”

I can’t argue the point, but I can approach it from a different angle. Maybe my expectations for 2010 are unreasonably low (certainly lower than Heath Bell’s expectations), but I don’t see Lopez making an appreciable difference in where the Padres end up in the standings this year. I also don’t see him as the long-term solution to anything.

Furthermore, although it is true that Eckstein offers precious little value on the field, I like all the things about him that he gets grief for (scrappiness and what-not), especially on a team filled with young up-and-comers that are learning how to conduct themselves at the big-league level. I want to see guys play hard (not reckless; that’s a different thing), regardless of their talent level.

Eckstein plays hard, and I’m glad kids like Kyle Blanks and Everth Cabrera (who seems to grasp the concept) will watch him do that every day. Again, if I thought the Padres had a chance to contend this year, I might feel otherwise, but from where I sit, this season is all about getting the youngsters acclimated to their environment so they can contribute down the line, when those extra few wins or losses might mean something.

Besides, it’s not as though Eckstein is blocking anyone. Matt Antonelli hasn’t developed as expected; if that suddenly changes, I imagine he’ll find himself in San Diego before too long. Josh Barfield? That would be a fun story, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Padres have committed themselves to playing the kids, which is great. What’s also great is having a few veterans around to help them make the transition into big-leaguers. Eckstein fills that role. As for the “problem” of sticking him in the lineup every day to make outs, that will resolve itself by the time it matters. Like you, I look forward to such a time. Until then: Don’t worry, be scrappy.

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5 Responses »

  1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s not like Eckstein is a long term option and he is a great example for the young guys to learn from this season. With that said future options at second should be towards the top of Jed Hoyer’s list of priorities.

    On a side note it is great to see you back Geoff! I missed reading daily Ducksnorts posts!

  2. I may be a bit naive (fanatic?), but I also gotta believe that the $ not spent on Lopez now will be spent in the future when the organization sees the opportunity to “go for it” …

  3. A poor hitting 2B seems like the least of the Padres concerns.
    Production fron catcher, 3B, and OF is a bigger issue to me. I really hope Headley shows dramatic improvement this year.

    After reading your post, the first thing that popped into my head was Mariano Duncan. He had 2-3 good years, but he was never much of a player. Despite that, he still started for the ’85 Dodgers, ’90 Reds, ’93 Phillies, and ’96 Yankees. And I might be wrong, but I don’t recall him having the clubhouse presence or leadership intangibles that Eckstein has.

  4. I was a bit befuddled by the amount of attention given to this issue at FF, particularly in the comments. I guess it’s a different attitude and I’m just not attuned to it. For example, I don’t see how it makes a difference to a team which will be fighting to finish in 4th instead of 5th whether they add, by WAR-type projections, a win or two. It’s nice stuff to keep you busy during the offseason, if you’re into it, but it’s more like minutiae to me. I’d prefer to focus on some really nice moves made by Hoyer in the very short time he’s been here than fret over whether Felipe Lopez or David Eckstein is our Opening Day 2B.