Monday, May 14, 2007

The Oakland A's Monday #5

Overall: 19-17 (2nd Place, AL West)
Last (Two) Weeks: 7-4 (1-1 vs. Red Sox, 2-1 vs. Devil Rays, 2-1 vs. Royals, 2-1 vs. Indians)

A couple of weeks ago, DH Mike Piazza's shoulder was crushed under the entirety of Red Sox 3B Mike Lowell.

It was the bajillionth injury suffered by an A's player this season and, in response, Oakland traded for former farmhand and minor league lifer, Jack Cust. A former first round draft pick of Arizona, Cust had fallen out of favor with the D'Backs due to his inability to play even passable defense, his high strikeout rates and an inability to hit for average.

Cust has bounced around and even received cups of coffee with the Rockies and Orioles, but at 28 years of age, he was given the infamous "AAAA" label and left to toil in minor league anonymity. At least until this past Sunday.

His two out, three-run walk-off homer against the Indians has a few A's fans
talking crazy talk. (C'mon…David Ortiz?) Still, Cust is a "three true outcome" (home run, walk or strikeout) talent and those guys are fun to watch when they're going right. That said, Cust is still a flawed ballplayer who won't come close to maintaining his current pace.

But, the thought of A's digging up another lumbering, limited Frankenstein masher got me thinking about a few other favorites from years gone by:

Matt Stairs - Signed as a free agent in December 1995, Stairs earned an everyday OF job at the age of 29. Generously listed at 5'9", Stairs was built (and looked) like a jar of rancid mayonnaise, but the kid could hit. From 1997-1999, his OPS percentages were .968, .881 and .899. He was the face of the current "unshaven, uncivilized" A's of the 21st century long before Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez or Miguel Tejada. Traded away after the 2000 season in a money move for the immortal Eric Ireland.

John Jaha - Played 10 seasons in the big leagues, but was completely healthy for only three. Fortunately, one of those years was 1999. The A's signed him as a free agent about a week into spring training and handed him the DH job. That year, he made his first-ever All Star team at 33 and led the team in slugging (.556) and home run rate (one every 13 ABs). Plus, he used All Along the Watchtower as his theme music. Cliché, but classic. Now, Billy Beane is often overly praised for finding these diamonds in the rough, but gets too many passes when he screws them up. After the '99 season, he inexplicably gave Jaha a two-year deal and got a grand total of 132 at bats out of it.

Geronimo Berroa - Sweet Jesus, those mid-90s A's teams were awful. Amid the disappointments of failed prospects like Brent Gates, Ariel Prieto and Steve Karsay, we did have one bright spot. Berroa was pretty much the entire offense for a couple of years. He'd flamed out quite spectacularly in Atlanta, before making quick stops in Cincinnati and Miami. He signed with the A's in 1994, led the team in several offensive categories during his 3 ½ year run before being dealt to Baltimore for a fringe prospect in June 1997.

Reggie Jackson - I love revisionist history. Despite putting up the best numbers of his career in Oakland from 1967 through 1975, Jackson is most remembered for his run in New York. Understandable, I suppose, but still. Anyways, after the three home run World Series game and the cameos on Diff'rent Strokes and The Jeffersons, Reggie came home on Christmas Eve 1986 to little more than local fanfare. In 1987, he hit like a Dominican mid-'80s middle infielder, but I guess it was full circle or some sh*t. Depressingly, only one
major card company opted to include Jackson in their 1988 sets.

Dave Kingman - Despite hitting 100 home runs combined in the final three years of his career (and doing absolutely nothing else of note), Kong is most remembered for sending a dead rat to a female beat writer during the whole "should women be allowed in the locker room" debate that captivated an unenlightened nation in the '80s.

Good times.

This Week: vs. Royals (4), vs. Giants (3)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No love for Troy Neel? You know there WAS someone playing DH for the A's in between Baines and Berroa.