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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Phillies Sign Thome

Philadelphia Phillies sign 1B/DH/PH/3B (I kid) to a one year/ $1.25 million contract.

I’m slightly surprised that he’s coming back.That last appearance for the Indians at third base seemed like such a nice ending to one heck of a ride.

But the man can still hit and I’d much rather have Thome as Ryan Howard insurance, DH in the AL games (and if all goes according to plan, the World Series) and primary pinch-hitter than Ross Gload for instance.  Yes, Thome comes with issues. Can he still handle first if it’s required? Also he’s had back problems. The risks certainly look acceptable to me—. particularly as next to no resources have been tied up.

I honestly think Thome could have commanded a bit more if he’d been willing to shop around. I can think of teams looking for a short term DH who wouldn’t have blinked at paying what he made last year ($3 million). If he says it’s about the best shot at a ring, I believe him.

I have no idea what ZiPs will say. I’m betting he’ll put in an OBP heavy 125 OPS+ in around 140 plate appearances.

Ron J Posted: November 05, 2011 at 08:24 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bob Evans Posted: November 06, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#3987560)
$1.25 mil for 140 PA seems like a good deal unless he has to play the field AT ALL. I flat won't believe he can till I see it.
   2. ColonelTom Posted: November 07, 2011 at 02:53 PM (#3987810)
It's not that hard, Bob. Tell him, Wash.
   3. Textbook Editor Posted: November 07, 2011 at 03:03 PM (#3987814)
But the problem here is that he *will* be expected to play the field, for at least the LH part of a 1B split-time with Mayberry until Howard returns. Depending on how many lefties get thrown at them, he could easily be expected to play 40+ games at 1B starting in April. Is this realistic? For all the nattering about how Ortiz is a statue at 1B he's at least played in interleague games every year; IIRC Thome hasn't played more than a few innings at 1B since 2005.

I'd like to see this work, because I like Thome, but if he doesn't hit and is craptastic in the field, I don't think the fans are going to just give him a free pass.
   4. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: November 07, 2011 at 03:19 PM (#3987822)
But the problem here is that he *will* be expected to play the field, for at least the LH part of a 1B split-time with Mayberry until Howard returns.

I did not see this reported anywhere when he signed. Phils specifically said PH and DH. He might start a game or 2, but no where did I see it written that the Phillies want Thome to play nearly every day in a platoon.
   5. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: November 07, 2011 at 03:27 PM (#3987826)
How much is Giambi playing first in Colorado? That seems like the model here.
   6. and Posted: November 07, 2011 at 03:38 PM (#3987835)
I haven't read any of the articles but this looks like a pretty good fit. The Phils are going to need slugging help and, honestly, I'd rather have a statue at first who can hit as my backup over a slick fielding light hitter. If he can catch the balls thrown to him, he'll be fine.

And for Thome it's a place he enjoyed previously and a decent shot at a ring. Any player would take a minor role on a champion as a final performance over a cameo at his first position for his first team.
   7. Textbook Editor Posted: November 07, 2011 at 03:39 PM (#3987837)
So then it's Mayberry at 1B full-time until Howard gets back? That seems sub-optimal.

Unless the talk of Utley playing 1B while Howard is out is true, with Polanco moving to 2B and ??? moving to 3B/a FA getting signed... I suppose that's the other option.
   8. ColonelTom Posted: November 07, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#3987868)
They'll probably have Thome play a bit of first in spring training - if he looks better than expected, he might get a start there per week, no more.

Assuming they re-sign J-Roll and either Madson or a similarly expensive closer, they're going to be rummaging in the bargain bin to fill Howard's shoes. The lineup leans right without Howard and with Mayberry, so they'll need at least one lefty hitter. I'd love to see them target David DeJesus on a one-year, make-good deal.

Another possibility in the DeJesus vein, if we're still feeling nostalgic after signing Thome, is Bobby Abreu. The Angels would probably unload him pretty cheaply and pick up a chunk of his $9M salary. He's worse defensively than DeJesus, but he can still steal a base (21-for-26 in 2011) and would allow them to drop Victorino and/or Rollins down to the middle of the lineup for power.

I also wouldn't be shocked to see Greg Dobbs return as a lefty option at 1B and bench guy. They'll want four-corners versatility in that slot given Thome's limitations and Polanco's injury problems, and Dobbs had a nice rebound year in Florida last season.
   9. plim Posted: November 07, 2011 at 04:14 PM (#3987870)
@5: since leaving new york, giambi has played 63, 37, and 23 games at first.

but iirc, thome has a hip problem that won't allow him to play the field. giambi was just horrible.
   10. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: November 07, 2011 at 04:22 PM (#3987883)
The problem with Thome as a PH is that he's been terrible against LHP for his career (last year notwithstanding). You bring him in in the late innings, and unless it's against the other team's closer, he's going to get loogied.

Thome hasn't done that well in the late innings, probably due to facing an inordinate number of lefties. Just look at is innings 7-9 inning splits for the last few years:

2011 - 795 OPS vs 838 for the season
2010 - 699 vs 1039
2009 - 749 vs 847
   11. Ron J Posted: November 07, 2011 at 04:24 PM (#3987886)
#3 I guess it depends. If the fans are thinking of some slightly lesser version of Jim Thome then yes, they'll probably be disappointed. If they look at him as a huge upgrade to Ross Gload (which is what he's being paid as) they should be happy.

He only plays first more than once in a blue moon in a Plan C scenario (which is what it sounds like, your first plan hasn't worked out [in this case, everybody healthy] and the fallback position [probably Mayberry to first] hasn't worked out either). They're somewhat more likely to face a plan C, but this is a better option than most.
   12. Ron J Posted: November 07, 2011 at 04:36 PM (#3987894)
#10 I thought about mentioning this but decided that this isn't an issue unique to Thome. So I checked Ross Gload (whose role Thome will be filling) and Gload only had 4 PAs against LHP last year.

I suppose teams will be more likely to bring out the lefty against Thome than Gload (since the danger of going to a pure loogy against Gload is that you can call Gload back. More than likely Thome will just lump it) but a lot of the time Thome will be up against an effective starter or elite reliever and the Phillies get a certain strategic advantage (probably worth very little, but hey you take your moral victories where you can) just from getting the pitching change. And they do have the same option to call Thome back. I don't know that they will. Like it or not aging superstars are generally handled with kid gloves.

It's part of the reason I'm expecting an OBP heavy year year that's somewhat worse than what a straight Marcel would call for.
   13. DL from MN Posted: November 10, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3990341)
Obviously Thome wants a ring. He's going to spend a good chunk of the season on the disabled list. He can't play the field except as an emergency (need a first baseman or you'll forfeit). He'll DH during interleague games (assuming he's healthy) and pinch hit.
   14. JRVJ Posted: November 10, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3990363)
Please pardon my ignorance, but why would it be so difficult for a guy like Thome to play 1B?

I mean, he has to run the bases when he hits, so it's not like he's a (complete) statue, and if you accept that he will be a pretty stationary 1Bman, his being out on the field doesn't sound THAT terrible.
   15. DL from MN Posted: November 10, 2011 at 11:05 PM (#3990700)
Thome has a bad back, really shouldn't bend over quickly. I think he has a bum arm from his 2005 injury also.

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