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Reminiscing About the Shannon Stewart Trade

Next week will be the 16-year anniversary of the deal that brought Shannon Stewart to the Minnesota Twins. That move always comes back to me when the Twins are in a position to add around the trade deadline. Let’s take a look back at that trade, share some memories and reflect on some of the best midseason additions in Twins history.
Image courtesy of Tom Froemming (not the actual Shannon Stewart, but a bobblehead doll made in his likeness)
It was the final day of the 2003 All-Star break. The defending American League Central champion Twins had limped out to a 44-49 record and were 7.5 games back in the division, sitting in third place.

The front office/ownership hadn’t made any big moves the previous two seasons despite the team being competitive, so there seemed to be little reason to expect any motivation to build up the roster. There was still just as much discussion about the potential for contraction as there was contention during this time.

But prior to the start of the second half, Terry Ryan struck a deal. The Twins acquired Shannon Stewart from the Toronto Blue Jays to serve as the team’s leadoff hitter. July 16, 2003 ended up being a momentous turning point for not only that season, but in some ways you could argue for the entire organization/future of the Twins.

Stewart hit .322/.384/470 (.854 OPS) for the Twins as the team went 46-23 in the second half. That season-ending surge also saw the team post an insane 24-9 record over its final 33 games. There was an 11-game winning streak included in that stretch. The Twins ended up charging back to win the division by four games. For his efforts, Stewart finished fourth in AL MVP voting.

Things turned out about as good as could have been imagined, but that was actually somewhat of a controversial trade at the time that it happened. The player Ryan sent to Toronto had actually been performing basically as well as Stewart, was younger and had many more years of team control.

At the time of the move, Bobby Kielty was hitting .252/.370/.420 (.790 OPS) for the Twins while Stewart was posting a .294/.347/.449 (.796 OPS) batting line for the Blue Jays. It was essentially a challenge trade, a very gutsy move.

After accounting for a 125 wRC+ over his time with the Twins, Kielty never came even close to that production elsewhere. He posted a 92 wRC+ over 367 career games from that moment forward. Stewart ended up signing a three-year deal to remain with the Twins the following offseason.

Stewart was excellent when healthy once again in 2004, helping the Twins to yet another AL Central crown. His first Opening Day in Minnesota was a memorable one, as he delivered a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Metrodome into a frenzy.



Stewart’s my personal all-time favorite among Twins midseason additions. I’d love to hear your memories from that time, but I’m also interested in your own personal favorites from over the years. A certain hitter on one of the World Series champion teams certainly sticks out, if anyone else cares to share some memories from 1987.

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17 Comments

Great story about Shannon Stewart, I think Torii Hunter nicknamed that outfield with Stewart, Jones, and him, the Soul Patrol.In 1987, I remember really liking the pick-up of veteran Don Baylor.He was past his 79' AL MVP days, but I thought provided leadership and a veteran presence on that 87' WS Champs team.

    • Tom Froemming likes this

I was stunned that the Twins made a trade for a real player, though I was nervous about giving up Kielty.That took about a week, then it was great.Watching Kielty quickly fade away made it an even more obvious big win since I thought he was going to be a better player than ended up being the case.

 

I remember the Twins trading for Chris Speier in August 1984.Played 12 games, OPS+ of 34.

 

 

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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nicksaviking
Jul 12 2019 07:15 AM

Yeah, that trade was just what the doctor ordered. It had been fun watching Jacque Jones launch a lead off HR once a week, but he wasn't drawing many walks in 2003 and always was a quick out when a lefty was starting.

 

While Kielty was a fun player, I didn't remember the trade dealing too much stress since he was still only platooning with Dustin Mohr, and Michael Cuddyer, Mike Ryan, Lew Ford and Michael Restovich were all waiting in the wings tearing the cover off of the ball in Rochester. It was a great trade, but with Morneau, Mauer, Todd Sears, Jason Bartlet, Josh Rabe, Terry Tiffee, Garrett Jones and Jason Kubel all with very nice looking bats*, they had lots of equity to deal with.

 

*Editors Note: BJ Garbe no longer qualified for inclusion with this statement and needed to be redacted.

    • Tom Froemming and jkcarew like this
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woolywoolhouse
Jul 12 2019 07:16 AM

Orlando Cabrera was a smart trade for the Twins in 2009. A positive locker room presence with postseason experience. Had a great Game 163 with a homer on offense and line-drive double play with runners at the corners in the top of the 9th. 

    • USAFChief, gunnarthor, nicksaviking and 5 others like this

 

Great story about Shannon Stewart, I think Torii Hunter nicknamed that outfield with Stewart, Jones, and him, the Soul Patrol.  .

I'm pretty sure Matt Lawton was part of the Soul Patrol, with Hunter and Jones.

    • Craig Arko, woolywoolhouse and bighat like this

 

I'm pretty sure Matt Lawton was part of the Soul Patrol, with Hunter and Jones.

Correct. Then Lawton was traded the year before Stewart (in a deadline deal for Rick Reed).

 

I think they called it "return of the soul patrol".

What...no mention of Chris Speier or Pat Putnam from '84? Ha!
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puckstopper1
Jul 12 2019 11:02 AM

How about the trade in 2010 where the Twins traded a young catcher who at the time was backing up a once in a generation level talent for a needed All Star reliever who helped them win the division that season.

 

Unfortunately things went south with that trade as time went on.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
Who's Bobby Kielty? I remember a Dusty Kielmohr, do you mean him?
    • USAFChief and Tom Froemming like this

 

While Kielty was a fun player, I didn't remember the trade dealing too much stress since he was still only platooning with Dustin Mohr, and Michael Cuddyer, Mike Ryan, Lew Ford and Michael Restovich were all waiting in the wings tearing the cover off of the ball in Rochester.

This. I think the thing that we forget about Kielty, is that although a switch-hitter, he was already showing signs of being a terrible left-handed hitter. Hence, the need to platoon him....and you wanted to platoon him with a proven left-handed bat/outfielder...which the Twins didn't really have (Mike Ryan). In acquiring Stewart, the Twins got much better against right-handed pitching...and didn't go materially backward against left-handed pitching.

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yarnivek1972
Jul 12 2019 01:36 PM
Trading for Matt Walbeck and Dave Stevens with 2 months of Rick Aguilera. Aguilera came back to the Twins that offseason.

Trading for Matt Walbeck and Dave Stevens with 2 months of Rick Aguilera. Aguilera came back to the Twins that offseason.


Walbeck and Stevens was the return for Willie Banks to the Cubs, which was an offseason trade.

Aguilera to Boston fetched Frankie Rodriguez. (Aguilera later went to the Cubs and fetched Kyle Lohse in May 1999.)
    • bighat likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jul 12 2019 01:59 PM

 

In 1987, I remember really liking the pick-up of veteran Don Baylor.He was past his 79' AL MVP days, but I thought provided leadership and a veteran presence on that 87' WS Champs team.

I was hoping somebody would catch my Don Baylor prompt. He was great in limited action during the postseason that year. 

    • Oldgoat_MN and bighat like this

 

Great story about Shannon Stewart, I think Torii Hunter nicknamed that outfield with Stewart, Jones, and him, the Soul Patrol.In 1987, I remember really liking the pick-up of veteran Don Baylor.He was past his 79' AL MVP days, but I thought provided leadership and a veteran presence on that 87' WS Champs team.

I thought it was the Soul Patrol?Wasn't it THunt..Lawton and Jacque that were the Soul Patrol?Stewart was a great trade no doubt.Where did those 16 yeas go?

 

    • Tom Froemming likes this

 

I was hoping somebody would catch my Don Baylor prompt. He was great in limited action during the postseason that year. 

 

Hit 1 HR in the postseason if my memory serves me correctly in the World Series.I was 10 then.Great veteran pickup.

    • USAFChief likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jul 12 2019 03:05 PM

 

Hit 1 HR in the postseason if my memory serves me correctly in the World Series.I was 10 then.Great veteran pickup.

Yes, you are correct, Baylor hit a big game-tying two-run homer in Game 6. He only had 21 plate appearances that postseason, but he hit .389/.476/.556 (1.032 OPS).

It was an off season trade, not in season, but getting Reardon was huge for the '87 team. Just like picking up a Vasquez or Iglesias would be for this year.
    • USAFChief and Tom Froemming like this