Scout's Notebook: David Eckstein

We agree here the St. Louis Cardinals made the right decision last season when they refused to sign Edgar Renteria to a 4 year, $40 million dollar contract. <P> It will be Eckstein's job to prove to the fans, the Cardinals made the right decision.

Cardinal fans will come to love Eckstein because he plays the game everyday the way Cardinal fans say they would if they could play in the major leagues. He is a solid player who doesn't make mental errors because he's always in the game. He'll make the routine plays and while he won't make you forget about Edgar Renteria or Ozzie Smith, he'll still find some way to get the job done.

His .988 fielding percentage last season led major league shortstops,making only six errors. Though he has limited range and doesn't have the bat of a Renteria, he'll never be considered for a Gold Glove. He struck out only once every 13 times at bat last season, the second best ratio in the American League.

Signed by the Cardinals to bat leadoff, he will be a free swinger who finds ways to make contact and put the ball in play. He doesn't draw many walks which could hurt from time to time. He is a very effective bunter which could help set the table in late innings for Larry Walker and the big guns behind him. He is also effective at the plate when the hit and run is put on as he puts the ball in play with 52.9% of his swings.

The rap against Eckstein is that he doesn't have the range and especially the arm to play at shortstop and perhaps his best position would be at second. In spite of these limitations it rarely hurt the Angels with him at shortstop last season. He is very good at getting rid of the ball and with former Chicago Cub second baseman Mark Grudzielanek at second for the Cardinals this season, they should turn into a very good double play combo.

Eckstein is a decent base runner who had 16 stolen bases last season and that's about all you should expect from him.

Eckstein hit .276 last season with two home runs and 35 RBI, Cardinals' Vice President and General Manager Walt Jocketty had this to say about Eckstein signing with St. Louis, "He addresses two of our needs, that of a shortstop and leadoff hitter," he added "David also has a style of hard-nose play that we feel will fit in well with St. Louis."

The move to St. Louis could turn out to be a win-win situation for David Eckstein and Cardinal Fans and it won't cost the Cardinals $40 million dollars.


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