Monday, February 1, 2010

So Long, Slugger!

I was about as surprised when the Sox decided to “pass” on Jim Thome as I was when they decided to pass on Podsednik. What exactly kept them from jumping on the opportunity? Simply put, the fact that they didn’t want him. The news broke that Ozzie had chosen to pass on Thome sometime last week. About four minutes later, Thome had inked a deal with Sox rivals the Minnesota Twins. (The Twins also seem to be Thome’s personal rivals. Not only did he hit the infamous Game-163-Winning Home Run during the 2008 pre-offseason race, this was just one of his 57 homers against the Twins. Statistically, about one out of every home runs Thome has hit was dedicated to the Minnesotans.) For $1.5 million dollars. I’m not sure how else to put in perspective than to say that this is less than 10% of his 2008 salary. To reiterate, that is only 3 times as much as Dewayne “The Rock” Wise made last year. (On a side note, Baseball-Reference has Thome’s total salary since 1991 is about $137 million. I think that’s just a hair over the White Sox’ annual payroll.)

Now, if you want to hear all the reasons why I’m disappointed the White Sox didn’t resign Thome, you might as well be reading Jim Margalus’s article over at the Sox Machine. I don’t want to be repetitive, especially since I’m posting this with such a delay.

But let’s look on the flip side: Why SHOULD the White Sox have released Thome? Well, if I was to defend Ozzie on this one, I’d say that it shows growth and a desire to win. How many times have I griped that the Sox make moves that spare feelings. Let me take you back to 2008 when Paul Konerko’s bat was as cold as a polar bear’s nose. Even the likes of Nick Swisher were doing batter and the fans cried out, “BENCH PAULIE!” Well, Ozzie chose to let Paulie work himself out of it, even if that cost the Sox a game or two. At least this time around, Ozzie chose to make a move that wasn’t based on his consideration for Thome’s feelings and that was in, what I hope he sincerely believed, was the team’s best interest.

Now, whether or not that will turn out to be true is left to find out. There’s an article on the Sox front page that, infuriatingly enough is titled, “White Sox won’t close door on DH.” Well, who do they believe will be a better bargain? True, Thome was getting older, but as evidenced by his salary with the Twins, he was a bargain. This article, if I may paraphrase, states that if the Sox find themselves in June or July and their “DH by committee” has turned into a turd worthy of ridicule and critique, Kenny would consider going out and DH-shopping. So with that in mind, I just want to remind everyone that next year, when the Sox front page gives you some statistics about how well the DH position being played, remember that for every day Andruw Jones has, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin will have one as well. (This, at least, gives me hope. I can't express how frustrated this situation has made me every time I read the phrase "off the bench". It just reminds me too much of the Brian Anderson era.) A more accurate statistic would be the AVG of all out-of-position players or of players who have not played on consecutive days.

On a last note, I will miss Jim Thome. He seemed like a great guy and he’s given the Sox plenty of memorable moments and fashion trends. Cheers, Jim, and we’ll see you when the Sox bring you back for your “undisclosed staff position.”

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