It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Cardinals front office could have been rude or dishonest to a player.
After all, other players had to find out through the press or take the hint in the form of phone calls that never came that they were no longer in the Cardinals cards. But, that being said, what was David Eckstein trying to accomplish by popping off to the St. Louis media that St. Louis GM John Mozeliak lied to him about the team's interest in bringing back the 2006 World Series MVP?
If Eckstein's version of the truth -- that he desperately wanted to come back to the Cardinals and that he would have played here for the same $4.5 million contract he signed for one season with Toronto -- don't he and his agent bear some of the resposibility for contacting the Redbirds before he inked the Blue Jays deal?
Former Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein chats with St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols. AP photo.
Here is Mozeliak told the Belleville news-Democrat on Dec. 17, 2007 about the Eckstein situation:
When the Cardinals and Eckstein talked about a 2008 contract after the season, Mozeliak said Eckstein was determined to sign a multiyear contract. But given his fragile back and diminished defensive capability, the Cardinals weren't comfortable with meeting Eckstein's demands.
"There was a deal offered and he was given multiple (chances) to tell me what he felt he should get or what he's worth, and he never came back," Mozeliak said. "At that time, he was still seeking a rather large deal. By the time he started thinking on the one-year front, we had already done Izturis.
"We did make an offer when the season ended. At that point, I said (to Eckstein), `You have to tell me where you think this is going. We've already put our best foot forward.' Then I was never given a number or a year or anything. So from our standpoint, I think we did everything we could on that."
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Mozeliak was asked whether Eckstein misjudged the market for shortstops.
"What do you think?" Mozeliak said. "If he was looking for a multiyear deal and he got what he got, I would say he did misjudge it.
"My phone was always on. I reached out to him many times and unfortunately, it didn't work out."
I liked Eckstein's hustle and his approach to hitting. But in all honesty, I think he pretty seriously overestimated his value. Especially after he missed about 50 games due to injuries in 2007. I guess it's a crummy part of the business. But the Cardinals opted to spend about half as much as Eckstein took to play in Toronto to sign Caesar Izturis. And I'm pretty sure it turned out to be the right move.
Eckstein didn't make it through 2008 as a shortstop, getting traded to Arizona where he played second base. The the Diamondbacks let him walk after one season, replacing him with another former Cardinals second baseman, Felipe Lopez. This year he was forced to take a sub million dollar contract to play second for the woeful Padres...
If he is bitter because he thinks he deserved $25-$30 million to hit .265 and hit three or four homers a year while covering a diminishing piece of real estate, then maybe he's not the All-American nice guy we all thought he was.