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The Courage Of Convictions?

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Scott Olsen is a very talented young starting pitcher completing his second season with the Florida Marlins. Now 23 years old, Olsen is a lefty with a fastball that can hit 95 MPH on a good day. And he may soon be available for next to nothing. You see, Olsen is better with a baseball than he is with the police. Olsen awaits trial on a July 21st charge of refusing to pull over for a suspected DUI, and then resisting arrest. In response to the arrest, Marlins’ President Dave Samson said, “I would not want a convicted felon in my organization,” and went to say that if Olsen is convicted the Marlins should part with him.

This is not Elijah Dukes, accused of threatening to kill his wife and choking an ex-girlfriend, and pleading “no contest” to yet a different battery charge. Still, Olsen has already built up a strong resumé for the Stay Away From Me Association’s next opening. He has scuffled off the field with former teammate Randy Messenger (who gave Olsen a black eye in the altercation), had “dugout disputes” with teammate Miguel Cabrera and then manager Joe Girardi, and has been fined for making an obscene gesture towards fans in Milwaukee. So it’s unclear who Olsen can list the next time he is asked for “three references”.

If all this sounds so familiar that you have instinctively screamed “NO WAY!!!” before you had a chance to think about it, remember that Milton Bradley also didn’t play very often, and that he played well enough, often enough, and harmoniously enough, to help the A’s reach the ALCS in 2006. If Olsen were exactly as baggage-filled as Bradley—but were also just as effective on the field, and were healthy—it could be a beananza to add him to the A’s roster.

The lure is that if Olsen is convicted, the Marlins’ eagerness to dump him, along with Olsen’s disappointing 2007 season (currently 9-10, 5.25 ERA after going 12-10, 4.04 ERA, with 166 Ks in 180.2 IP in 2006), could make him available for next to nothing. These are the treasures for which the A’s are so good at digging—and the ones the A’s must continue to unearth in order to remain competitive.

Olsen figures to be at worst a luxury #5 starter, but at best he could be a “pre All-Star Break Chad Gaudin,” while being young, cheap, and under contract control for 4 more years. Acquiring Olsen could even allow the A’s to deal Joe Blanton, if they saw fit, for another necessary piece—be it a CFer, a right-handed impact hitter, or a healthy and reliable starter for the left side of the infield.

Jump on it, or join the Marlins in running from it—what would the General Manager in you do with a Scott Olsen felony conviction?