Jayson Stark provides us with this little factoid in a profile of new Jays Scott Rolen and David Eckstein:
Here they are, about to become the first two infielders to transplant themselves into some other team's infield, within two years of starting at least 80 games for a World Series champion, since Bill White and Dick Groat went from the Cardinals to the Phillies in 1966.
Sorry, what? Really? What?
Stark does score points for correctly noting that Canada is north of the border, though he fails to mention that it is also east of the border for Alaskans. Guess that slipped by the fact checkers, eh?
The article mostly rehashes Scott Rolen's difficulties with jerktacular managers in Philly and St. Louis. This is old ground for us here so I won't bother to go over it again.
What is sort of interesting is the latter bits on David Eckstein's contract talks. Many assumed that Eckstein's camp held out for too many years and too many dollars, costing him a far better deal that the one year $4.5 million contract JP gave him. Eckstein refutes this notion:
A year ago, he seemed to be heading toward an extension that would have kept him in St. Louis through 2010. But negotiations kept dragging. And dragging. And dragging right through spring training -- until Eckstein pulled the plug. Pulled it because "I did not want to be that guy looking for a contract" when he was supposed to be playing baseball.
He keeps hearing he could have signed there for three years and $21 million, one fewer year and 15 million fewer dollars than he was looking for. But Eckstein insists: "I'll tell you to this day I made the right decision. If you knew a little more of the inside -- I'm keeping that to myself -- but all I'll say is, I definitely made the right decision."
From the beginning, he says, he had no problem accepting the consequences of shutting down those negotiations, whatever that meant on pay day, and wherever that led him on game day. So he's not second-guessing anything, he says. Nor is he buying into the popular notion that he could have been the Mets' second baseman right now. Did the Mets have interest? Absolutely. But they went into the winter with the obvious intention of bringing back Luis Castillo. And ultimately, they did. In the end, no matter how close they seemingly were to signing Eckstein instead, he says "I can tell you this right now, they got the guy they wanted."
Interesting. In any event, Stark seems to believe that a change of scenery might do both men some good in 2008. That's exactly the kind of note you want to wrap up a feel-good article on, kids.
Stay scrappy, fellas.
-- Johnny Was