David Eckstein signing makes sense for the Cardinals

This is too weird. The Red Sox sign the Cardinals’ shortstop, then the Angels sign the Red Sox’s outgoing shortstop and cut their shortstop, who then signs with the Cardinals.

David Eckstein is overpriced at $3.25 million, but he’s by far the best deal of the bunch, and the best fit for the Cardinals.After the Cardinals assembled an All-Star team at the plate, I’d been saying they needed to let some of their high-priced position players go, get someone who can catch the ball, and concentrate on pitching. Good pitching always beats good hitting, even in the Steroid Era, as Boston demonstrated in this past World Series.

Eckstein won’t pop as many homers as Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera, and he’s not necessarily as flashy with the glove, but he’ll catch everything that comes his way. He’s a better leadoff hitter than the departed Tony Womack. And most importantly, he plays with a lot of intensity and heart. St. Louisans go for that. Joe McEwing was the second most-popular player on the team when he was here. He’s a utility infielder/outfielder. Never was a star and never will be. But he was the kind of guy who would try to score from first on a groundout to shortstop with two out in the inning.

St. Louis fans appreciate that.

When Bo Hart came up two seasons ago to fill in at second base, he exhibited the same kind of hard-nosed play and became a fan favorite. Speaking of which, if you happen to be Walt Jocketty and you happen to be reading this, please feel free to trade Bo Hart to Kansas City. KC needs him more than the Cardinals do.

So Eckstein’s a good fit. He fills the Cards’ hole at shortstop and in the leadoff spot, and will do a good job of catching the ball and getting on base so that Larry Walker and Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds can bat him in. And he’ll do it for $4 million less than what they offered Renteria. That’s $4 million they can spend on pitching.

With what the Cardinals saved by not re-signing Woody Williams, Mike Matheny, and Edgar Renteria, they can just about afford to pay Randy Johnson’s salary.

I think the Cardinals need to make a serious run after Johnson. They can top any offer the Yankees might be able to make, and the Cardinals really were just about two dominating pitchers away from a championship. They’ve landed one dominant pitcher in Mark Mulder. There are no truly dominant pitchers on the free-agent market now, so the Cardinals need to go get one via trade. Johnson’s made it clear he wants out of Arizona, and the Cardinals can make a convincing argument that they’re more likely to win a Series than the Yankees.

Now it’s just time to come up with the players.

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