Off Base
A Penny for Your Shortstop

July 5, 2008

Or for Jack Wilson, 1,500,000,000 pennies. Give or take.

So apparently the Dodgers are shopping for a shortstop to replace Rafael Furcal. A bit tardy, but the initiative is appreciated.

There's a Jack Wilson rumor courtesy of's Ken Rosenthal, and since Ken is reliable, let's assume it's accurate. Which is to say, there's a rumor. Not a trade, necessarily, but a rumor.

Wilson is a dependable player, and a pretty good hitter - for a shortstop - if you know what I mean. He's an L.A. guy, Westlake Village to be precise, and we like L.A. guys here. So there's that. But coming from Pittsburgh, who's to say he can play in a pennant race or in the postseason?

Forget everything you're hearing from the traditional media about how tough it is to make a deal right now. It's total crap. There are more shortstops available than there are teams actively looking for one, so you do the math.

Despite the propaganda coming from the various front offices, the Dodgers have the money, the trading chips and the leverage. And no, they do not have to trade Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, or Russell Martin to get something done.

At least three other shortstops are available, and one, David Eckstein, is very available. He's sitting on the bench in Toronto as we speak, waiting for a ticket out of town. For extra motivation, not that he needs it, Eckstein will be a free agent at the end of the year. He's played in nine October series, seven of which his team won, and is the proud owner of two championship rings. Count em; two. And a .278 lifetime hitter in the postseason.

It'll take the Dodgers less to acquire him, they won't have to contemplate the position in 2009 just yet, and Eckstein might very well give you more than Jack Wilson. I say go for it. Now. Today.

Washington's Cristian Guzman is out there too. He'll cost more in blood and treasure, but it's doable. Guzman, 30, sports similar career numbers to Eckstein, 33, has more pop, but has less postseason experience and no rings. He'll be a free agent come November as well, and is a really, really good player.

Then there's Juan Uribe, currently residing in Ozzie Guillen's White Sox doghouse; packaged, stamped and ready for shipment. Uribe is 28, has some power and a ring, but doesn't hit for average or get on base a whole hell of a lot. But it's a deal the Dodgers could make quickly, without losing a coveted young player.

As to the notion that it's advantageous to trade for a man with a year or two to go on his contract, sure; generally that's a worthy goal. Not in this case, however. Rafael Furcal, even with back surgery, is a better player than Jack Wilson, and it's not close.

Years-to-go on a contract factors into the calculus of a trade. All parties know exactly what the variables are. The Dodgers should be thinking in terms a two-to-three month need, not a two-to-three year.

Eckstein is the easiest trade to make, and the least costly, and he's exactly what the Dodgers need. I can't emphasize the point enough. He can be in Los Angeles Monday, in the lineup and leading off. What more do you want?

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