Where Are They Now: Mark Teahen

The Sad Saga of Mark Teahen reads like a Greek tragedy, but saddest of all, it also reads like a handful of other players in the recent history of the Kansas City Royals.

Teahen was acquired by the Royals in 2004 as a key piece in a three-team trade that sent Carlos Beltran to Houston, John Buck from Houston to Kansas City, Octavio Dotel from Houston to Oakland, and Mike Wood and Teahen himself from Oakland to Kansas City. Whew.

Of the three players Kansas City received in the trade, Teahen stood out. Here was a genuine prospect who had been mentioned in no less a book than the groundbreaking Moneyball as the next big thing – and quite possibly the next Jason Giambi.

A former first-round draft pick, 22-year-old Teahen was hitting his stride in 2004. Across the AAA systems for Oakland and Kansas City that season, Teahen batted .301 with a .379 on base percentage, 14 home runs and 77 RBIs. All signs indicated he could be an important part of the Royals’ lineup for years to come.

And in many ways, he was. Teahen saw Major League duty for the first time in 2005, and served as the starting third baseman for most of the season. His stats were unimpressive – .246 batting average, 7 home runs – but his .309 on base percentage and 55 RBIs showed promise.

That promise fulfilled itself in Teahen’s sophomore season. He crushed the ball in 2006, clubbing 18 homers and posting a .290 batting average. He also stole 10 bases and posted an impressive .517 slugging percentage.

But Teahen’s career was sidetracked by another Royals Sad Saga, this one belonging to Alex Gordon. In 2007, Gordon was the hot-shot third base prospect, and third base was handed to him on a silver platter. The ever-gracious Teahen accepted a move to right field. But he struggled defensively and with the bat. Although his batting average was still a respectable .285, his power stats plummeted to only seven home runs and 60 RBIs. Not acceptable for a Major League corner outfielder.

At the end of the 2007 season, the Royals signed right fielder Jose Guillen to a three-year contract, in large part to provide a power bat in the middle of the lineup. Teahen was displaced once again. He moved around the outfield in 2008, and also put in time at first and third base. By 2009, the Royals even considered putting Teahen at second base, an unusual position for someone of Teahen’s body type.

Mark TeahenThat year was to be the last for Teahen in Kansas City. At the end of 2009, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.

Most trades have a winner and a loser. This particular trade seemed to have losers on both sides. Although Teahen signed a three-year contract with the White Sox before the 2010 season, he underperformed, and was again bounced around the field. For the Royals, Getz and Fields spent much of 2010 on the injured list. Getz will likely be the starting second baseman in 2011, but he could quickly be bumped if his bat does not improve. Fields played only a handful of games for the big league team, and he was cut after the 2011 season. He’s now a farmhand for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What does the future hold for Teahen?

For one, he will benefit from playing in large-market Chicago. If Teahen does not earn a starting spot in 2011, the White Sox can afford to keep him around as a super-utility guy who can play four positions. That type of player, especially one with occasional power, can be extremely valuable to a contender

Teahen endeared himself to Kansas City fans during his time in Royal Blue. Although he’s playing for a hated division rival now, it’s a safe bet many Royals fans still root for Mark Teahen.

Maybe even when he’s playing at Kauffman Stadium.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and associate editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

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