Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eckstein and Scutaro show value early and often

John McDonald represents most of us --- low key, underrated, flawed but ready to show that we are good at something if only given half a chance. After last season, the empathetic amongst us felt good (ie. validated) about JP Riccardi rewarding Johnny Mac with some real money. Not me. I don't want someone like me playing shortstop for the Jays. I want a guy who excels at all facets of the game and wants to win on every play and every at bat. McDonald is an excellent defender but, apart from a brief stretch of horseshoe up the anus offensive surge last year, is a liability at the plate (career .240 avg and --- ugh --- .279 obp).

After a week of play, it's clear that the Jays have a couple of new guys who, although they lack the superior genes of Derek Jeter, have the ability to play both ends of an inning:

David Eckstein - He doesn't flash the leather like McDonald, but he's no slouch at short. Offensively Eckstein is a creative and effective player. Other than yesterday, I can't remember ever seeing a player dash to first base on ball four. Eckstein has only one mode --- intense --- which puts pressure on opponents on every play. A career .286 hitter (.351 obp), Eckstein turned it up a notch last year and hit .306. Anything close to that will help keep the Jays competitive.

Marco Scutaro - From what I've seen so far, Scutaro will give McDonald a serious run for highlight reel grabs this year. Combine that with the fact that his career obp percentage is 40 points higher than McDonald's and that he's stolen 3 bases already, the glove has been slapped and the competition for premier Jays utility guy is on. Tao's mancrush Jeff Blair even suggests that he may be a better offensive option than either David Eckstein or John McDonald. We'll see about that.
McDonald gets his first start of the season today a bigger underdog than he's been as a Jay.

UPDATE: McDonald turned in several dazzling plays, almost put Vernon Wells out of commission, walked once and struck out three times. Eckstein watched the game from the bench...with intensity.

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