If Julio Lugo was able to snag four years and $36 million last off-season, well, by golly, David Eckstein wants to do the same this year. You can make some arguments with the comparison — Lugo is a year younger, flashes a bit more power, and has been more consistent in his production (from year-to-year; we’re not counting his huge drop-off after being traded to the Dodgers last year). But it’s tough to argue with Eckstein for wanting to start talks at that level.
This may deter Eckstein’s perceived No. 1 suitor, the New York Mets, who are looking at him to fill their second base vacancy. One has to wonder, though, if the Mets wouldn’t just be better off with Luis Castillo, who performed averagely in his 199 at bats with the Mets last season (.296/.371/.372). On the whole, Castillo is far better Lugo comp than Eckstein; both Lugo and Castillo will be 32 next season, and have seen similar production over the years. The Astros are also reportedly interested in Castillo, though the same can be said for nearly every FA on the list.
The Mets are also looking at Orlando Hudson in possible trade scenarios to fill their second base vacancies. Speculation, though, is that the Mets would like to hold onto their movable prospects in order to acquire a front-line pitcher. Clearly, Johan Santana tops that list.
The Cardinals aren’t officially severing ties with Eckstein, but it appears unlikely that they will dole out a Lugo deal for him. New Cardinals GM John Mozeliak had this to say about the scrappy shortstop:
"We’re going into it looking for a shortstop, and given the fact that David is out there, obviously we have him in mind. One of the things we’re doing internally is trying to get a feel for the supply and the demand of shortstops in this market. David probably is doing the same, and right now there doesn’t appear to be a lot of teams looking for shortstops."
At first, I didn’t think too many teams needed shortstops, but after looking around it seems that there are plenty of teams that could at least use an upgrade at the position. Unfortunately, Eckstein doesn’t represent much of one.
Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog.