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Interesting piece in today's Globe from Jeff Blair. The Jays brass, apparently, has been sufficiently impressed with Frank Catalanotto that they're planning to bring him back in 2003 as their everyday left fielder. The Cat himself says that left field is his favoured position going forward, and that he quite likes being in Toronto.

This isn't really a shock. The Blue Jays have three outfield prospects in the majors or higher minors: Jayson Werth, Gabe Gross and John-Ford Griffin. Werth, if all goes well with his part-time play this season, ought to be the everyday right fielder next season. Gross has been ripping the cover off the ball in his second go-round at AA, and will almost certainly show up in Syracuse later this year. Griffin is just a step behind Gross, both in terms of development and defence. But neither Gross nor Griffin will likely be ready for 500 productive ABs in the majors next year, and Cat would make perfect sense to be the new leadoff hitter in '03.

About the only surprising thing is that Shannon Stewart's departure is being talked about so openly. But I suppose even Shannon knows this is his farewell tour in a Jays uniform. Indeed, if Werth holds his own through June, Shannon will almost certainly be dealt by the trading deadline or -- if JP doesn't like what's being dangled in return -- will be offered arbitration so that the team can take the first-round draft pick upon his departure. The wheels keep turning.
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_Jurgen - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 10:43 AM EDT (#89905) #
I was wondering whether Cat would be better suited to left.

The thing that surprises me is that the team hasn't already shifted Stewart to right. Weak arm or not, he'd be a huge upgrade over Cat.
Dave Till - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#89906) #
I can't see the Jays putting Stewart in right, given some of his defensive misadventures.

What's happened to him this year? He's never been a great fielder, but he seems to be making more mistakes than he did before.

If Jayson Werth proves he can handle right, Stewart may be gone sooner than later. I'd give him until the All-Star break, tops.
robertdudek - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#89907) #
I't will be sad to see Shannon Stewart go, mostly because he is an above average leadoff man. However, his defensive value is extremely limited and he doesn't have enough power to help the team a lot as a left fielder. It's also sad that Shannon seems to have lost so much of his speed - he doesn't seem capable of stealing 25 out of 30 bases, something that would help the team avoid double plays.

Catalanotto is the approximate equivalent of Stewart, and of course will be the cheaper option.
_R Billie - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:27 PM EDT (#89908) #
I think the constant harping on Shannon Stewart's defence has gotten to him. After being told he's terrible out there so often he may be starting to believe it.

Since Stew and Cat are very similar players (down to defensive defficiencies) I think it's only natural the cheaper one will be kept for next year. Particularly with Werth pushing for playing time and Gross and Griffin nearing major league readiness.

That's always been the move that made sense. It will be sad to see Stew go but that $6 million can be used for other things. Perhaps a starter and two competent relievers. I mentioned Ligtenberg before the season began...but oh well. He's bolstering the Orioles pen now.
_DS - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#89909) #
But who could Stewart be traded to, barring injuries? Teams that would be interested are either set in LF, or are unwilling to add payroll. Oakland would be a perfect fit....but would JP be willing to swallow that much money? Thoughts?
_Jordan - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#89910) #
I think it's too soon to tell who the players for Stewart would be. There are always unexpected contenders every July, especially with the wild-card slot leading more teams to believe they have a shot at the post-season. Then there are injuries to starters, off-season from established stars.... I think we'll have a better idea come June.
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#89911) #
I don't think Oakland would be a "perfect fit". Ellis and Hatteberg seem to be doing a good job at the top of the lineup, and I still think CF should be their priority, despite the Singleton signing.

How about Baltimore? Obviously the Jays won't take Ponson or some other schmuck, but Baltimore desperately needs a LF.

I think it makes worlds of sense for the Braves, too. It gives them a leadoff guy AND allows Chipper to move back to 3B. This Castilla thing isn't working out. But it would cost them a bunch, and we already know desperate the club is to not go over payroll.

The Mets have money and only one "healthy" outfielder now in Floyd, and he's pretty gimpy. Maybe Philips is desperate to do anything to keep his job. Nagging Stewart would be good for the club--although I don't know who they can offer in return other than Reyes, and that ain't happening.

The Rangers only have Mench in LF, and Stewart would be a big upgrade at the top of their lineup. They've got money to take salary and they've also got young talent to deal. If the Rangers lose the Beltran sweepstakes, my guess is that Stewart ends up in Arlington.
Coach - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#89912) #
Stewart could be a hot commodity at the deadline, but as a "rental" for a contender, he won't bring much in return. Some folks around T.O. will be outraged if all J.P. gets for him is an arm from the low minors.

I'm not sure that he would be offered arbitration, Jordan. If the FA market's as chilly as it was last winter, Shannon could go to a hearing and get $7.5 million. So the Jays' choice may be to take what they can get in June, or non-tender him in the offseason. As with any deal these days, it will be more about balancing the books than talent; presumably if J.P. can kick in some dough, he'll get a better prospect in return.

Cat, one of my favourite players, can stay as long as he likes. He will make fewer mistakes than Stewart in LF, and contribute as much with the bat, for less than half the price.
robertdudek - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#89913) #
To be fair to Shannon, he isn't a bad leftfielder. Most LFs have bad arms and so, as long as Shannon can get it into the cut off man, it shouldn't be a big factor.

He does misjudge balls more often than you'd like, but he also makes occasional spectacular catches (like the one in Boston on Monday) - I don't think Cat can match him in that department.

It's just that his offence is only "good" for a leftfielder, thus he's not worth much more than league average salary.

I think Oakland is exactly the team that has specialized in acquiring mid-season players like Shannon Stewart. Long won't hit enough to justify putting him in LF; he could move back to centre if Singleton is found to be only average defensively (he hasn't looked that great in games I've seen this year - hopefully Gitz can comment on this). An outfield of Stu-Long-Dye is better than what the A's have now, and every little upgrade counts when the pennant race gets into high gear.

I think JP could get a couple of prospects from Oakland and he might not need to pick up much of Stu's contract. If this happened, it would be a great opportunity for Stu to showcase some of his skills in the playoffs. I wish him luck in his future home.
_Mick - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#89914) #
Actually, the Rangers' LF is your American League home run leader, Carl Everett. Presuming Everett is not in Texas in '04, Stewart would NOT be a huge upgrade over Mench, frankly (that was not an intentional pun on Catalanotto's name).

Stewart's OPS/$ to Mench's last year was .813/$4.25M to .775/minimum and I think it is fair to assume Mench will get slightly -- not hugely -- better over his rookie campaign.

If the Rangers stay with the plan of trying to get younger, then I personally would not trade the 25-year-old Mench for the 29-year-old Stewart even up.

And Mench, for all the Pete Incaviglia comparisons, is an above-average defensive outfielder and runs extremely well.
_Shane - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#89915) #
Robert, considering the Athletics obviously feel that substandard centerfield play was costing them runs/outs last year, from their point of view wouldn't it seem unlikely that they'd go back to having T-Long out there again come fall if they were prepared to suffer through Singleton's presence in the first place? I don't know.

It's totaly accurant, that finding Stewart a new home with a contender is going to be hard. Leftfield is a pretty stocked position unfortunately.

Who knows, in a twilight zone kind of way, perhaps the Oakland conjecture is possible, and Stewart was intended to be in Oakland by July 7th as the Ford-Griffin PTBNL?
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#89916) #
Well, if Stewart's not going to Texas, I don't know who else can afford or need him... I suppose St. Louis, if Drew and/or Pujols are out for long. Maybe if the Yankees smarten up and dump Mondesi, they can move Williams to RF, Matsui to CF, and Stew to LF. Hey, if the Expos can get Colon, I suppose anything's possible.

More likely, I see the Jays unable to deal Stewart, and like Cruz, he signs for much much less elsewhere.

What are the chances of the A's getting Beltran from the Royals? Or does Baird not answer his phone anymore when he sees Billy's name on call display?

I guess if the Royals are still competitive in the summer, which seems doubtful but no longer unlikely, Beltran will be sticking around Kansas City.

Getting a good CF seems a more pressing Beane need than another LF bat, and he'd be a great #3 hitter in place of the departing Tejada. I guess the A's already have a lot of free agents to worry about in the next couple of years.
_Chuck Van Den C - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 06:36 PM EDT (#89917) #
Jurgen: Maybe if the Yankees smarten up and dump Mondesi, they can move Williams to RF, Matsui to CF, and Stew to LF.

At 17-3, I doubt there's much smartening up they feel they have to do. Further, Mondesi's OPS is over 1000 and while I don't obviously foresee that lasting too much longer, he's certainly not giving the team a reason to hurry and add salary to replace him.

Given the very little I've seen of Matsui, he doesn't seem to have the footspeed to play CF. I think a more likely evolution of the Yankees outfield will see Williams slide to LF, Matsui to RF and either a FA or Soriano taking over in CF.

Of course, if the Yankees win the WS, they might decide to continue living with Williams in CF and signing Guerrero to replace Mondesi in RF.
Gitz - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 07:05 PM EDT (#89918) #
Robert, et al,

I have seen a little of Singleton this year, and, maybe it was just poor timing, but in one game alone he badly misplayed two balls that cost the A's a few runs. Overall, his speed isn't nearly what I thought it would be; he gets a poor break on balls, and he seems to misjudge more than his share of the bloops/weak line drives -- I've seen a few too many balls drop in front of him. So far, without looking at any numbers, he's only been a marginal improvement over Long. For as pitiful as Damon was at the dish in his only full season with the A's, he really was a gifted CF.

However, Singleton's not going anywhere. For some reason Beane inked him to a two-year deal, and the A's aren't going to have many sunk costs, not with Dye sucking in $10 million per and T-Long gobbling his fair share of cash. The popular theory is that CF was on offensive hole for the club the last three years, anyway, so you may as well get someone who can play defense out there. Hence, getting someone else to play LF now and shifting Long back to center is, at best, a bad idea; Long is simply the worst defensive CF I've ever seen -- yes, worse than Roger Cedeno. Even Karim Garcia, who for some reason is getting some starts in CF for the Indians, looks more natural than T-Long.

I've speculated that Singleton will be demoted to a fourth OF, which is a half-sunken cost, but that will only happen if the A's get a real CF such as Beltran, and it is far too early to speculate on that. Yes, Stewart is a possibility and would clearly be an upgrade to all three of the yo-yos out there now, but the A's are running out of Grade B prospects to offer JP, and at any rate, as I said, it's too early for such discussions, and, at another rate, as previously mentioned, Long stinks in CF, so forget about it for now, unless the A's somehow can get both Stewart and Beltran, a real coup for any GM, even the hack ones such as yours truly who, in truth, really only excels at writing very long sentences, a la his hero, Mr. James Joyce.

But, clearly, the A's OF situation is a disaster, and nobody should be surprised by this, least of all Billy Beane, who put it together. I don't buy Long's early-season success; he looks like the same hitter he's always been, complete with the slow, long, looping swing we've all come to despise. Dye is another matter, but you can read all about him in my next A's column, which you should all read faithfully and bask in its warm goodly-goodness.
_Spicol - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#89919) #
I love Shannon Stewart but I say trade him now. Keeping him will have little impact on the Jays' record this season and dealing him now likely means a greater return. He is probably of greater value to the GMs who haven't been part of the OBP revolution since he's a "prototypical leadoff guy", few of whom exist in MLB today. JP should capitalize on teams that feel they need such a player and turn Shannon around for a real prospect, instead of the likely B prospect he'd earn at the deadline.

You may disagree with me that the Jays record will be unaffected by Stewart leaving. I admit, that's a simplistic view and the Jays may win one or two fewer games without him. But what's the value of 1 or 2 wins for a team positioning itself for 2004 and beyond?

Cat shifts to left, Werth and whatever assorted other REAL outfielders play right. The defense isn't negatively impacted, arguably it's improved, and the offense the RFs contribute won't be sigificantly worse than the RC and the 800 OPS Shannon puts up.

Shannon Stewart. 100 AB. 0 SB. 0 HR. But visions of a 100 run leadoff guy might be dancing in Jim Beattie's head. Or Kenny Williams'. Or Dave Dombrowski, who is looking to improve the Tigers' terrible offense. Ship him to Texas, who needs a "leadoff hitter" now that Glanville is out, despite what what Mench could do for them.
Gitz - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 01:35 PM EDT (#89920) #
Stewart's lowest OBP since becoming a regular is .363 (highest is .377). Without looking at any numbers, that has to be higher than at least half of the big league squads. Stewart has value to the GMs who "haven't been part of the OBP revolution" as well as those who have.
_Pfizer - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#89921) #
I think far too much is made of Stewart's defensive shortcomings and far too little of his bat.
_Shane - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#89922) #
Trade Stewart now, trade 'em later? Even if the club wanted to, where is he going to go? Montreal...No Money. Chicago White Sox...Who is he going to replace? The guy hitting five homeruns in consecutive days, while making half the money? They probably like Carlos Lee just fine. Detroit...Why would Dombrowski want a five month rental? He's not going to trade for him and try to sign him to a long term deal when he's begging to get out from the ones he already has. He just ate twelve million or something on Easly.

Unless there's an injury, or a multi-player, multiple team swap, there to me doesn't seem to be any logical destination, sadly. Escobar's going to be difficult too, because besides the fact he's sucking, there's I think, four to six "closers" in their final year before free-agency. It's quite a pickle. The org might get "stuck" with having to take the draftpicks.
Gitz - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#89923) #
FYI: The new labor agreement changed FA compensation from two draft picks to one -- unless the club offers the FA arbitration, in which case if the player declined, the club would get the two.
_Spicol - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#89924) #
Stewart has value to the GMs who "haven't been part of the OBP revolution" as well as those who have.

No question. But does he have more value to the Cam Bonifays of the world? I think so, because of his role.
_Spicol - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#89925) #
Chicago White Sox...Who is he going to replace?

Aaron Rowand.
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#89926) #
There are about a dozen teams that Shannon could help.

How about the Rockies? They could be gunning for a wild card, given how badly Arizona has been playing.

The Cubbies will want him once Alou gets hurt again.

There's two off the top of my head. I think JP could get a few good players for Shannon if he also agreed to eat most of the salary. Not that it's necessarily a good idea, of course.

_Shane - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 05:59 PM EDT (#89927) #
Sure, Stewart's a very good offensive player, so obviously there's plenty of teams that he could help, but that in itself doesn't mean that Team ABC has a vacant outfield slot, or that Team DEF has the financial room to fit him, or that Team GHI will ever be in a position that it would need to acquire help for a pennant drive. The Blue Jays could sure use Jim Thome, but you'd have a hard time making him fit.

Absolutely a lot can happen between now and July 31st. Maybe Moises Alou could break another leg and the Cubs might then be in a spot where Stewart would be appealing. Maybe the Rockies will be close to a wildcard run and will set aside underwhelming current outfielders like Kapler, Payton, and Richard for Stewart.

To me, the likelihood that a team would seek to acquire Stewart for use in their centerfield during a pennant race is very remote. That's more Fantasy Baseball roster construction isn't it? Toronto hasn't seen fit to use him there in how many years now? But, as long as you continue to look at that as a possiblity, then I guess he'd be an option for the White Sox, or whoever else.

A quick look around...

Angels - No
Orioles - Why would they bother, already have pitiful excess of OF's
Red Sox - No
White Sox - To me, no. Quality thumper in Lee, no DH room, Stewart's
no centerfielder IMO

Indians - No
Tigers - No
Royals - You never know
Twins - No
Yankees - No
A's - only if you (Beane) believe Stewart can play centerfield, or you (Beane) can make T-Long disapear.

Mariners -No, they've already got lots of OFoutfield 'speed' (said in your best country hick voice)

Devil Rays - No
Rangers - No, not likely to contend for anything, and again Stewart in CF seems unlikey IMO

DiamondBacks - No. Swings a bat, not a walking cane
Braves - Not unless Bobby Cox quits worrying about Castilla's pride and finally let's him die, then flips Chipper back to third, none of this is likely to me. Chipper's in LF for a reason, and it's not 'cause Vinny came to town

Cubs - Not unless M.P.'s Alou voodoo doll kicks in. Here's hoping it does

Reds - No
Rockies - Unless Walker injury (?) and O'Dowd doesn't mind kicking Kapler, Payton, and Richard to the curb

Marlins - No, won't contend. Cheap-skates anyway
Astros - No
Dodgers - Not unless you believe in centfield fairytales
Brewers - Uh, no
Expos - Can Wilkerson play center? If he could you'd think he would be already. You'd have to eat the contract, what's left to trade from anyway?

Mets - Floyd always going to be injured, but it won't matter they won't be anywhere near contention

Phillies - No
Pirates - the NL Baltimore, No
Cardinals - No
Padres - No need, no contention
Giants - A Jays fan could only wish. Foppert, Ainsworth, Williams, and on and on the studly arms go
_M.P. Moffatt - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#89928) #
You're missing a few obvious scenarios:

1. Mariners: Winn goes back to his pre-2002 form for the Mariners. If they're in it thick and Winn has an OPS around 690, I could see Stand Pat pulling the trigger.

2. White Sox: Magglio would probably go to center, Lee to right, and Shannon to left. It'd be ugly, but it could work.

3. Expos: They *badly* need a first baseman. They've been considering moving Wilkerson to 1B and finding a LF. Wilkerson could also play center, but that wouldn't solve anything right now, because they'd need someone to cover left. I think they'd rather have Endy in CF and Wilkerson at 1B than Wilkerson at CF and Leifer at 1B.

4. D'Backs. I wouldn't write them off yet.

I'll give you the Mets. They don't have much to offer the Jays anyway.

_Shane - Friday, April 25 2003 @ 09:21 PM EDT (#89929) #
The Mariners & Winn? Sure, you can have that one. You'd never catch me preachin' the the ways of Winn. That situation would be interesting because Pat Gillick has been such a trading tight wad while with Seattle and he obviously knows Stewart. If he obsessed over Stewart like he does Pat Borders you'd maybe get Soriano
(ha ha). Wasn't Al Martin his lone "star" pennant drive pickup a season or two ago? Yummy.

Has Ol' Maggs Ordonez played center before? They'd be an interesting trade partner. Maybe a Stewart for Loaiza could be worked out? That dude can chuck it and a great teammate too, I hear.

The Expos possibly moving Wilkerson around was mentioned by Prospectus today, actually.

Barring an injury, where does Stewart fit in with the left/center side of the outfield loaded with Gonzalez & Finely in Arizona?
robertdudek - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#89930) #
Gonzalez and Finley are set in left and centre -only a season-ending injury could change that. I doubt they'd pursue Shannon for centre if Finley went down - they've got McCracken and Dellucci, both of whom would be more than adequate stopgaps.

If Luis goes down, then Stewart might be a possibility for them.

They have several good pitching prospects in the high minors; among them, Webb and Good, who have been brought up to fill in for injured pitchers. Villareal has some potential as well.
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