January 27, 2010 – The announced that they have signed 39 year old DH Jim Thome to a one year deal for $1.5 million with another $750,000 on the table as incentives based on at bats. Thome, a left handed hitter and a five time all-star will begin his 20th season in the big leagues in 2010 having played for the Indians, the Phillies, the White Sox, and last year he split time between the Sox and the Dodgers. The man has hit more home runs against the Twins than any other player, 57 I believe and his career home run count stands at 564. I have enjoyed watching Jim Thome play baseball over the years and I have read numerous articles stating how nice a guy he is and how he helps many a charity. But I have got to ask, why would Bill Smith and the Twins sign Jim Thome? Where do you play him?
The Twins already have a nice DH and part time outfielder in the left handed Jason Kubel. Everyone is in agreement that Kubel will remain the primary DH so what do you need Thome for? The man has not put on a glove in anger since 2007 so there is no chance of him playing in the field short of a major calamity. A pinch hitter off the bench you say, let’s look at what Jim Thome accomplished as a pinch hitter for the White Sox and the Dodgers last year. For the Sox, Thome had 9 plate appearances as a pinch hitter and had nothing but a walk to show for his efforts to go along with his 4 strikeouts. As a Dodger, Thome had 17 plate appearances in which he struck out 7 times and had 4 singles and 3 RBI’s. Yes, 4 singles, no doubles, no triples, and no home runs. I am not saying that Thome is washed up, but some players are not suited to getting off the bench and taking their hacks once a day or once every several days and Thome’s history albeit short does nothing to make me think he can fill the role as the big bopper of the bench. Let’s assume for a moment here that Thome does pinch hit and bloops a single down the right field line, you think Gardy is going to let him run and clog up the bases and kill a rally? No sir, Gardy is too smart for that so he will burn another bench player running for Thome. So to get this rally going we have burned at least two bench players. If you decide to play Thome as the DH then either Delmon Young or Kubel probably sits, what is the point of that? Carlos Gomez was traded to solve the crowded outfield problem and now here once again we have found a new way to keep Young from playing full time. If the Twins don’t think that Young can fill their outfield role full time, then they should just trade the guy and be done with it. Geez, enough is enough already.
Even by today’s standards $1.5 million is still a lot of money and I think Bill Smith just threw it out his Target Field window. Why not save that money and pool it with the money they still have to spend to fill either the 2B or 3B hole and get a player that can really help this team. Smith’s master plan for 2010 is obviously well beyond me because I just don’t get it. I am also amazed at how the local press and bloggers all seem to be in favor of this signing. Again, I ask why?