Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Crazy Rumour File: Shannon Stewart

Rotoworld (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) dropped a little nugget of interest this afternoon:

Free agent Shannon Stewart said he has a firm offer from only the Blue Jays.
Stewart's old club would probably be taking him on only as a fifth outfielder, and since the Jays play on turf, it's not an ideal situation for him. He'll continue to look at other possibilities.

Must we pick up all of Billy Beane's retreads? In all seriousness, let's not get our knickers in twist prematurely, but this does open up an interesting line of discussion.

The right-handed hitting component of our LF platoon is pretty much disposable as soon as Adam Lind breaks. And Adam Lind will break, ye of little faith. Reed, god love him and his sweet-ass Shelby Cobra, is really little more than a placeholder. He's probably best-suited for 4th OF duties anyway because of his rather unimpressive .267/.328/.383 career line against RHP. He does have a pretty good arm and can play all three OF position. Without checking numbers or anything, I reckon that all things considered he'd be a slightly above average backup OF in the AL.

Shannon Stewart's weaknesses are as glaring now as they were when he was a Jay. First, my wife has a stronger arm than he does and she's played catch maybe all of three times in her life. Second, Stew always had nagging hamstring injuries that prevented him from ever taking advantage of his plus speed. "The fastest man who never steals bases" I used to say.

But on to the good, he's always been a much better hitter than Reed, with a nearly identical OPS against lefties and righties (.796 v.s .795). He always hit well in the Skydome/Rogers Centre (.303/.374/.452); granted, most of those ABs came when he was a younger, better player. But lo and behold, the most shocking discovery of all is that Reed really isn't that much better of a defender measured by career LF Range Factor and Zone Rating: 2.01 and .914 for Reed as opposed to 2.06 and .874 for Stew.

Is JP considering signing Stew and dumping Sparky? Who knows, but I can't really see any reason why you'd carry both of them.

If it comes down to a question of who you want more as your semi-regular LF/Matt Stairs platoon partner--and I've always been skeptical that it would've been a stict platoon of Johnson and Stairs--in 2008, I think I would grudingly come down in favour of Stew. The logic being that, like Scott Rolen, he hits LHP and RHP equally well, meaning you don't have the weak spot against righties in LF we did whenever Reed was playing over the last few years. And aside from his girlish arm, he's not that bad defensively. You'd lose some flexibility to give V-Dub or Rios a day off and shuffle your OFs accordingly, but how often do you need to do that anyway? Stairs can play RF in a pinch...

And I never really thought I'd be saying this, but the possibity exists that Stew might be in better shape of the two. Whereas Stew got into 146 games last year, Reed had some pretty major back surgery and wasn't quite right at the dish or in the field at any point after his return. Whether or not there are any lingering effects we'll have to wait and see.

There's much to love about our dear Sparky, but I wouldn't lament his departure if it made the club 1% more competitive this season.

-- Johnny Was

No comments: