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  • Thome or Not Thome: That apparently is the question

    Ever since Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire mentioned to the media a couple of days ago that he would like to add a potent bat to his bench, conversations among Twins fans have revolved around just one player; Jim Thome. And why not? Twins fans’ memories of the hulking, Paul Bunyan-esque slugger look glowing to 2010.

    Thome came to the Twins and, in 108 games, he hit .283/.412/.627 (1.039). It was his best OPS since 2002. He gave fans many very lasting memories. I was at the game against the White Sox when he hit the walk-off homer against Matt Thornton and the White Sox. He hit his 600th home run for the Twins. He played a memorable role in Harmon Killebrew’s memorial service at Target Field. And there was his commercial with the big, blue ox.

    Late in the 2011 season, the Twins traded him back to Cleveland, where he began his career. Many thought that was the close of his career, but when Charley Manuel called him and asked if he wanted to pinch hit for the Phillies, he jumped at the opportunity, even willing to bring a glove to the ballpark. At the end of June, he had just 70 plate appearances in 30 games. The Phillies were out of it and traded Thome to the surprising Orioles where he played in two less games but accumulated 35 more plate appearances. Combined, he hit .252/.344/.442 (.780) with seven doubles and eight home runs.



    Why should the Twins sign Thome? He is a better hitter, even at 42, than the guys on the Twins projected bench. He might hit 6-8 home runs. He is a legend, a future Hall of Famer, and a great person. He would be very inexpensive.

    Why should the Twins not sign Thome? Well, he is 42. He can’t play defense. He can’t run. If he walks, he’ll need a pinch runner. He gets hurt a lot. The Twins have lots of options for the DH/1B spots with Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit, Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee. A right handed bat makes more sense. Thome has not been successful most of his career as a pinch hitter, and he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching well.

    As you can see, as much as I like Thome and respect him tremendously, I just don’t think it makes any baseball sense to bring back Thome. That is not to say that I would be disappointed if they signed him though.

    However, there are some other options remaining on the free agent market. A couple of the below players may make more sense to the Twins than Thome, and a couple of them obviously make no sense.

    Bobby Abreu
    – Abreu will turn 39 years old on March 11. He has had a tremendous career hitting .292/.396/.477 (.873). However, the last time he posted an OPS of .800 was 2009 with the Angels. He began the 2012 season with the Angels, but before the end of April, he was released after playing just eight games. A week later, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he hit .246/.361/.344 (.704) in 92 games. He has always had great plate discipline which might help him as a late-inning option and a veteran some of the young players could emulate.

    Johnny Damon
    – Damon will be 39 years old through the 2013 season. In his 18 year career, he hit .284/.352/.433 (.785). He had some very good years with the Royals, the Red Sox and then the Yankees, but the last few years have not been good. The Boras-client has been a one-year guy the last three seasons. He spent 2010 with the Tigers, 2011 with the Rays, and last year, he signed with Cleveland on April 17 for $1.25 million. He was released in early August after hitting .222/.281/.329 (.610) in 64 games.

    Derrek Lee
    – Lee did not play in 2012 after splitting the 2011 season with Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Combined, he posted a .771 OPS in 113 games. Although he will be 37 years old through most of the season, it is unlikely that he returns in 2013.

    Carlos Lee
    – Carlos Lee’s six year, $100 million contract is over. Although his power dropped significantly through those six year (to just eight in 2012), he was able to remain healthy. In 2012, he was traded from Houston to the Miami Marlins for two minor leaguers. In 147 games last year, the burly right-hander hit .264/.332/.365 (.697). In his 14 year career, he hit .285/.339/.483 (.821), although he hasn’t had an OPS that high since 2009. He also no longer can really play in the outfield. The intrigue with Lee is that he is a right-handed bat to compliment all of the Twins left-handed bats.

    Scott Podsednik
    – “Pods” provides no power to the bench, but his name has been thrown around the rumor mill in connection with the Twins. Why? I have no idea. In 2009, he played for the White Sox and Rockies. In 2010, he played for the Royals and Dodgers. In 2011, he played in the minor leagues in the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations. In 2012, he played for the Red Sox, but he was traded to the Diamondbacks on July 31, but Arizona released him two days later and he re-signed with the Red Sox. In 64 games for Boston, he hit .302/.322/.352 (.674). He has stolen 309 bases in his 11 year big league career. He will also turn 37 in mid-March.

    Scott Rolen
    – The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner has been hurt quite a bit the last two seasons. In 92 games in 2012, he hit .245/.318/.398 (.716). In 65 games in 2011, he hit .242/.279/.397 (.676). He has had a lot of back problems and turns 38 just after opening day. He’s had a terrific 17-year big league career, but retirement and a lot of spa time would seem to make the most sense.

    Ryan Theriot
    – The 33-year-old utility infielder has been part of the past two World Series teams, the 2011 Cardinals and the 2012 Giants. Last year with the Giants, he played 91 games at second base and hit .270/.316/.321 (.637). His career OPS is .691, but he hasn’t approached that number since 2009.


    So, as you can see, there are other bench options that the Twins could still considering signing via free agency. None of them are particularly appealing. Maybe there are some trade possibilities, but frankly, since 2013 is about rebuilding, why would the team give up any prospect for a part-time player?

    This is certainly a hot topic among Twins fans since, well, there isn’t much to talk about. What do you think?
    This article was originally published in blog: Thome or Not Thome: That apparently is the question started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Love Thome, but the Twins should give a lot of young players at bats.
      Admit it is a rebuilding year and see what we have.
      That approach will not only give more experience to some of these kids, but will get us a earlier draft pick.
      Am I totally resigned about this season? Maybe.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      On a 90-100 loss team I'd take Thome over any of those stiffs listed. The correct approach is to get as many ABs as possible for guys like Plouffe, Parmalee, or bring up Arcia. But would I rather see Thome hit a 3 run shot in a 10-4 loss where Correia went 2 1/3 innings? Sure.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Rebuilding teams should not be signing anyone older than 25 or 30.....I am baffled by the refusal to use young unproven players.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      You can't rebuild with Thome.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      If the twins are deadset to add Thome , why not sign him as a coach reasign Ullger to golf cart driver for Tom Kelly,Then when September roles around activate The gentile giant Jim and let him have his farewell tour
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      If the Twins (Gardy) are adament about having some bench power, I have to think the team will give Colabello a very long look before turning to outside help. He's not young, but he's still on the good side of 30; much younger than the other options.

      Plus, it's probably not a bad thing to have another guy on the team pushing Parmelee to be the heir apparent to Morneau at 1B. Making it a foregone conclusion that Parmelee is the chosen one is dangerous and tempting fate.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      If the twins are deadset to add Thome , why not sign him as a coach reasign Ullger to golf cart driver for Tom Kelly,Then when September roles around activate The gentile giant Jim and let him have his farewell tour
      I love this idea. And it has no logic behind it.
      Baseball fans are a sentimental group. Especially when it comes to a master of the craft and a true gentleman like Jim Thome.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      If the Twins (Gardy) are adament about having some bench power, I have to think the team will give Colabello a very long look before turning to outside help. He's not young, but he's still on the good side of 30; much younger than the other options.

      Plus, it's probably not a bad thing to have another guy on the team pushing Parmelee to be the heir apparent to Morneau at 1B. Making it a foregone conclusion that Parmelee is the chosen one is dangerous and tempting fate.
      Agree with this. The issue is can Colabello hit major league pitching. We will have a chance to give him some starts when Morneau is gone for the better part of two weeks. Twins should use them an see if Colabello has anything to offer. But he will be gone too, bad move for him as this is his best chance to open some eyes.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I have absolutley no interest in Thome or any of the players listed in the article. While no one knows for sure what we have in Colabello, this year would be the perfect chance to see what he has.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I'd prefer that the twins give a bench slot to one of the younger players that grab one of the guys listed above who all seem...done. If I have to pick one of these guys, I guess it'd be Scott Rolen in hopes that he could help Plouffe get settled on defense?

      But if they really want to add someone for the bench they're going to have to make sure they carry no more than 11 pitchers. Which should be a done deal, but with the Twins...
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      He bats left-handed. Full stop.

      But I'll go on. Adding a guy who can do one thing when the bench already has a guy who can only do one thing (Butera) is not a good idea.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      He bats left-handed. Full stop.

      But I'll go on. Adding a guy who can do one thing when the bench already has a guy who can only do one thing (Butera) is not a good idea.
      I agree, but I suspect Butera may be the one pushed out the door if the team does chose to have a more powerful bench option. I don't see them sacraficing a bullpen spot with all the guys in the rotation being injury question marks. If the team is forced to pick between it's two loves, a 12 man pitching staff or a third catcher, I think they keep the bullpen fully stocked.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      I am pleased to log in at this point and not see folks advocating for Thome. A player like that has no place on this team with what they have in front of them. To have Thome in the Twins org as a coach and/or player advisor going forward would be great. Who does not love Jim Thome? Unfortunately that has nothing to do with it.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      On one side of the fence the Twins chose to rebuild and are not fielding a highly competetive team or a team that could compete if everything and i mean everything broke right. The Twins are likely to lose 200,000+ in ticket sales this year to an increasingly disgruntled fan base as we go through the rebuilding process. They could recoup some of that in having Thome around. There could be a Jim Thome as Paul Bunyon bobblehead if that hasnt been done yet and also if his last few games can draw crowds. Plus it would be fun to have him around and having an extra hitting coach around. all for what 500k to 1000k and 150-200 plate appearances?
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Plus it would be fun to have him around and having an extra hitting coach around. all for what 500k to 1000k and 150-200 plate appearances?
      It's not the atbats as much as it is taking up one of only four likely bench spots. He can't play the field, the team would be pretty hampered when it comes to substitutions. And he's a lefty, the Twins need righties.
    1. luke829's Avatar
      luke829 -
      How much gas would someone his age realistically have left in the tank?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by luke829 View Post
      How much gas would someone his age realistically have left in the tank?
      It depends largely upon his current broccoli intake.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Just to reiterate thats 150-200 plate apprearances if he is producing. why not sign him?
    1. Jerr's Avatar
      Jerr -
      Give the at bats to the guys we are rebuilding with, so Thome? NO!!!!
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      Just to reiterate thats 150-200 plate apprearances if he is producing. why not sign him?
      Because the DH spot already has a logjam of Mauer/Morneau/Doumit that will be rotating through the majority of the PAs, and Thome can't do anything but hit.
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