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Happy Birthday Shannon Stewart

Stewart at bat Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Shannon Stewart turns 45 today.

Shannon was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of 1992 amateur draft, the 19th pick overall, out of Miami Southridge High School. He was a compensation pick for the Dodgers signing free agent Tom Candiotti. He rose quickly thru the Jays farm system and was a September call-up in 1995 and 1996. In 1997 Shannon was called up in mid-August and was given the full time CF job for the rest of the season after Otis Nixon was traded to the Dodgers.

In 1998 Stewart spent the whole season with the Jays. He played 44 games in CF and 110 games in LF. He had plenty of range to play in center but didn’t have the arm strength. He mostly hit lead off but did bat some in the 2 and 3 spot in the order. He had a really good season batting .279/.377/.417, hit 12 home runs, stole 51 bases (third in the AL), scored 90 runs and drove in 55. He was also 4th in the league in being hit by pitch with 15. He was just the 5th player in team history to steal 50 bases in a season.

1999 Stewart played 145 games and again hit very well .304/.371/.411, he scored 102 runs, drove in 67 and stole 37 bases, 4th in the AL. An often injured player, this season he hurt an ankle in September and missed 10 games.

In 2000 Shannon had his best season with the bat setting his career high in batting average (.318), slugging (.518), runs (107) and homers (21). He also had 43 doubles, 69 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He started the season off right by hitting a leadoff home run in the first game of the year. He hit .381 when leading off the game that year with 5 homers. But again he missed playing time being on the DL, playing in 136 games.

Stewart set his career high for games played (155), at bats (640) and hits (202) in 2001. He had another great season with the bat hitting .316/.371/.463 and scored 103 runs and received an MVP vote. He came in 8th in the AL in batting average, 3rd in hits and doubles. And was only the 4th player in team history to get 200 hits.

In 2002 Stewart had another very good season batting over .300 (.303) for the 4th season in a row and scored over 100 runs (103). Again a terrific leadoff hitter getting on base at a .371 rate, though he wasn’t the base stealer he had been in the past, stealing only 14 bases. He hit third in a handful of game as well. He did miss time on the DL again with hamstring troubles. He played left field mostly though he DHed 38 times.

His 2003 season started well, but on July 16 the Jays traded him to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty. Trading him wasn’t a bad idea; he was 29 and did have injury issues and he did everything well but didn’t do anything very well, players like that tend not to age well. I thought, at the time, we could have done better than Bobby Kielty in exchange for him, but then we flipped Kielty for Ted Lilly, so it turned out ok.

The Twins got a couple of good seasons out of him but he lost more time to injury and his numbers declined quickly, but he did get into the post season, in 2003 and 2004. From the Twins he went to Oakland and had an ok season there, then the Jays picked him up for the 2008 season. The less said about that the better, though I still don’t understand what they thought they were getting, the man hadn’t slugged .400 since 2004 and the only position he could play was left field, where a .400 SA wasn’t going to cut it.

Shannon had a good career, 14 seasons, 1653 hits, 853 runs and a .297 average. Without the injuries his career could have been that much better but such is life.

Another thing that could have helped his career out would have been if the Jays had a different manager. Cito Gaston, back in those days, didn’t like to go with young players and Stewart is one of several that lost a season or two at the start of his career. In 1996 and 1997 the Jays had an aging Otis Nixon in center field. Nixon wasn’t a bad player but he wasn’t the sort that should have kept Shannon Stewart out of the lineup. In fairness to Cito the team was in ‘win now’ mode during his first stint with the team.

When you search for pictures of the man, you will find some interesting ones, there is a ‘model’ named Shannon Stewart. She looks somewhat different from our Stewart.

Happy birthday Shannon.

It is Huck Flener’s 50th birthday today. Huck was our 9th round draft pick in 1990.

He made it to the Jays in 1993, as a September call up, getting into 6 games. We didn’t see him again until 1996, when he pitched in 15 games, making 11 starts. And he got into 8 games in 1997.

In all, Huck had a 3-3 record, a 5.51 ERA in 29 games, 12 starts and 1 World Series ring.

Happy birthday Huck.

Bob Brenly turns 65 today.

Brenly had a 9 year MLB career, mostly with the Giants but we signed him as a free agent before the 1989 season. Bob hit .170/.255/.261 in 48 games, before we released him.

Career he hit .247/.330/.403 with 91 one home runs, mostly has a catcher.

After his career he became a coach with the Giants and then became the manager of the Diamondbacks. They won the World Series in his first season there.

Happy birthday Bob.