Familiar Faces in New Places


For purely nostalgic reasons, I thought it was pertinent to bring focus to a contingent of transactions that have occurred recently involving former Athletics players.

Now brace yourself, these aren’t your ordinary acquisitions. No. Not at all. Be aware that these are antiquated names sure to raise an eyebrow or two. Once lost in the sands of time, these players seek to reestablish themselves through the means of a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. For many of them, it’s one last chance to prove relevant again. One last gasp for air. One more chance.

As fellow Swingin’ A’s scribe Sean Davis detailed in his article bringing attention to brittle bodied Bobby Crosby’sattempt at a comeback this spring with the Milwaukee Brewers. The often injured, slider flailing middle infielder, will seek to resurrect his career at age 33 in 2013 and make the Brewers bench. Despite being out of baseball for two seasons, Crosby will have to show that he has something left in the tank as the odds are stocked against him.

Crosby won’t be alone in his quest for a triumphant return to the big stage; a multitude of relics from the A’s past will dot the rosters of Major League teams this spring. Let’s take a look a few standouts, for old times sake.

Miguel Tejada, Kansas City Royals

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Quick, grab a Giants fan. Any Giants fan will do. Got them? Good. Ask they why they didn’t repeat in 2011. Go ahead ask them. Without a doubt they’ll point to Buster Posey’s horrific season ending ankle injury at the hands of Scott Cousins and the Marlins. That much is obvious. Yet allowing a Giants fan to further elaborate, they’ll inevitably point a finger a former A’s MVP Miguel Tejada as a scapegoat for his inability to adequately replace departed playoff hero Juan Uribe. Looking at his 2011 numbers, it’s hard to argue with their claim. Tejada was an unmitigated disaster both in the field and at the plate. Never one to walk, his declining bat speed struggled to a .239/.270/.326 line while providing little defensive value at third base or shortstop. Discarded in September after being replaced in the lineup by the equally useless Orlando Cabrera, he couldn’t find any takers over the winter and had to settle for a short early-season stint with Baltimore’s Triple-A team in 2012. Unable to fight his way back, he was unceremoniously released in June  and for all intents and purposes it appeared his illustriously troubled career was over at age 38. Latching on with Kansas City this December, Tejada will try to prevent his career from a flatlining for a third time in as many years. Even if he fails in his attempt, Miggy will always have his fair share of admirers in Oakland who fell in love with his aggressively joyous style of play in the early 2000’s. Hopefully by now he’s finally gained an understanding of the obstruction rule.

Charles Thomas, Kansas City Royals

Raise a hand if you saw this one coming. Charles Thomas, the lone position player acquired in the ill-fated Tim Hudson deal has latched on with Kansas City Royals at age 34 after being absent from affiliated baseball since 2007. “Two Buck Chuck”, as he was so eloquently referred to by the Oakland faithful was never ever to solidify his place with the Athletics after his acquisition. While never truly regarded as top prospect, there was still a level of buzz circulating around him when reporting to Oakland camp in 2005. Thrown in the starting lineup a season earlier in Atlanta, Thomas proved himself to be a decent injury replacement by hitting his way to a .288/..368/.445 line while providing stellar defense as the Braves primary left fielder during the second half of the season. Expectations were tempered, but it seemed perfectly logical that he could settle into a role on the bench as the A’s resident spot starter and defensive replacement. Unfortunately Thomas could not adjust to the spotty playing time and new league, hitting a career crushing .109/.255/.109 in 30 games before being exiled to the Triple-A. Never to be heard from again.

Or so we thought. Now I have no inside information concerning his out of the blue agreement with the Royals. I really have no idea if he has incriminating photos of Dayton Moore from their time in Atlanta together, or if he just knocked them dead at an open tryout. Whatever the case, Thomas always seemed like an affable chap, and it’s nice to see him get another opportunity. Here’s hoping he’s the second coming of Roy Hobbs.

Jeremy Bonderman, Seattle Mariners

Although never blessed with the opportunity to suit up in green and gold, Jeremy Bonderman nevertheless cemented a place in Athletics lore thanks to no devise of his own doing. As told by Michael Lewis in the pages of Moneyball, Billy Beane was so enraged by Bonderman’s 1st round selection in the 2001 draft that he threw a chair through a wall. This incident, eventually led to the departure of scouting director Grady Fuson and the eventual shipping of Bonderman to Detroit a year later. From that point on, it seemed that whenever he faced the A’s, Bonderman would develop a chip on his shoulder the size of Alaska and would attack the A’s hitters with a furious vengeance. The secondary numbers against Oakland were amongst his best against any opponent. Looking past the pedestrian 4-3 record showcased a 3.49 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 8 regular season starts. Since his career was put on two-year hiatus due to arm injuries, Bonderman has deemed himself recovered from surgery and recently found a suitor in Seattle who will give him a chance to reestablish himself in 2013. Unfortunately for the A’s, this gives Bonderman a chance to further enact his revenge if he can get his career back on track at age 3o.

Honorable Mentions:

Mark Teahen (Ari), Jason Pridie (Bal), Conor Jackson (Bal), Erick Threets (Col), Kevin Kouzmanoff (Mia), Michael Wuertz (Mia), Donnie Murphy (Mil), Rich Harden (Min), Landon Powell (NYM), Omar Quintanilla (NYM), Dan Johnson (NYY),  Travis Buck (SD), Jason Ray (SD), Chad Gaudin (SF), Javier Herrera (SF), Brandon Allen (Tex), Aaron Cunningham (Tex), Ryan Langerhans (Tor), Greg Smith (Tor)