Shannon Stewart Continues The Jaha-Thomas Tradition
by Ken Arneson
Shannon Stewart is the winner of this year's been-hurt-so-long-we-almost-forgot-about-him Billy Beane Sweepstakes. The Oakland A's agreed on a 1-year, incentive-ladel deal with Stewart.
Back in his healthy days, Stewart regularly put up OBPs of .360-.380. That certainly would be welcome and useful, if Stewart can return to form after two years of plantar fasciitis problems.
He's not the ideal platoon partner for Bobby Kielty, as he bats right-handed, but at least he's been much better against RHP than Kielty has been. And it's insurance in case Dan Johnson flops, Mark Kotsay gets hurt, Mike Piazza gets old, Milton Bradley implodes, and various other disasters. Depth never hurts.
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Just for kicks, I was recently reading through the early Transaction Analysis articles over at BP. Here's Christina Kahrl's take on the original success story in the Billy Beane Sweepstakes (apparently called the Guillermo Frijoles Sweepstakes back then), John Jaha:
I'm not a big fan of bringing in Jaha, but the A's are heavily left-handed, and he'll get every opportunity to win the right-handed DH job. The misfortune is that there's more Kevin Mitchell in this signing than Matt Stairs. Jaha basically can't pass a physical, and some folks are joking that he hurts himself in workouts. They'll have to be really stubborn and ignore all of that to make room for him.
Well, sometimes this sort of thing doesn't work out (Mitchell, Tim Raines), and sometimes it does (Jaha, Frank Thomas). I guess we'll find out soon enough about Stewart.
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Reading those old transactions sure makes me thankful for the rosters of recent seasons. The 2007 A's probably have about six starting pitchers, and about seven or eight relievers who are better than anybody on those 1996-1998 teams. Here's a Kahrl note from 1998 that just about sums those years up:
Recalled RHP Dave Telgheder from Edmonton; designated RHP Jim Dougherty for assignment. [4/28]
The A's fall back on their third option for the fifth starter slot, as they've had to in each of the previous seasons: Dave Telgheder. Maybe its my easily inspired sense of imagination. Maybe only I shudder each time it happens. But the surrender that Telgheder represents, the agony of having to hand him a job every couple of months, is the surface ripple of the organization's deep problems with their minor league pitching prospects. Whether its Willie Adams or Kirk Dressendorfer or Andrew Lorraine or Bret Wagner or Ariel Prieto, no matter what glimmering possibility seems to hold promise, we keep coming back to Dave Telgheder. You can't kill him, you can't hide from him. He's the uninvited guest who chains himself to your couch. His agent certainly earned his cut by getting his client into the right organization as a minor league free agent.
Hilarious. But probably only because those days ended long ago. Just curious, though: does Jay Witasick use Telgheder's old agent?