Minnesota Inks Twins-Killer Jim Thome, but is he the Best Fit?

Jim Thome is a member of the Minnesota Twins.

Five years ago, those words would have me jumping up and down, screaming like a madman, and laying claim to the Twins’ inevitable American League pennant.

The problem is that five years is a long time.

Five years ago, Jim Thome was an absolute beast. He could be counted on for 40+ home runs a season, 100 RBI, and an on-base percentage north of .385 year-in and year-out.

Heck, five years ago he was still a pretty solid defensive first baseman.

Five years ago, the Twins were running out the likes of Matt LeCroy, Terry Tiffee, and Shannon Stewart at designated hitter.

All the while a young first baseman by the name of Justin Morneau was struggling to the tune of a .239/.304/.437 batting line in his first full-season of big league action.

Fast-forward five years and Thome, now 39-years old, doesn’t make a whole lot sense.

The Twins have one of baseball’s best designated hitters, Jason Kubel, firmly entrenched in the lineup and Justin Morneau overcame his early career struggles to become one of baseball’s best sluggers.

So where does Thome fit?

He figures to serve primarily as a left-handed bat off the bench and occasional DH against tough right-handers. In those situations Delmon Young—who historically struggles against righties—would ride the pine and Kubel would move to left field.

I can see the pros and cons of the situation.

Thome is a professional hitter who can still rake against right-handed pitching. Every closer in the American League Central is a righty. If you do the math, Thome is the guy you want at the dish late in a game.

The problem is that he doesn’t offer much beyond that scenario.

Thome is a great clubhouse presence, but he shouldn’t be taking at-bats away from Jason Kubel or Delmon Young.

Kubel proved last season he can flourish if given enough at-bats as a DH.

Young is entering a make or break season with the club and by all reports has done a lot of work this offseason to make the most of the 2010 campaign.

As such, I’ve got to wonder why the team didn’t take the money given to Thome and put it toward a position of need such as improving the infield or adding another right-handed power bat to the lineup.

The $1.5 million base salary Thome is set to earn wouldn’t have been enough to land prime targets Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to have the extra money lying around.

Another option would have been to take that same $1.5 million and invest it in Jonny Gomes.

Gomes, 29, would have been a solid alternative to Thome. Gomes hits very well against left-handed pitching and would be a perfect complement to Kubel at DH and he would help break up a lineup that is very lefty-heavy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m completely against the Twins bringing in Jim Thome, I just feel like there were some more versatile options available. Most of this stems from the fact that Thome is: a) old and b) a defensive non-entity.

At least we know for a fact that Jonny Gomes owns a baseball glove.

Thome hasn’t played in the field regularly since joining the White Sox prior to the 2006 season.

In fact, the last time Thome played the field at all was June 13, 2007 when Thome’s Sox played against his old club, the Phillies, in Philadelphia during an interleague game.

In the end, I can live with the Thome addition. That is assuming he doesn’t steal too many at-bats away from Young or Kubel over the course of the season.

Thome is a great clubhouse presence and a professional hitter. Sure, he’s old, left-handed, and hasn’t put on a baseball glove since the Bush administration, but he’s still a good addition.

Gomes would have given the Twins some much need right-handed pop without running the risk of stealing full-time at-bats and odds are he could have been had even cheaper, but that’s a non-issue now, because—five years too late or not—it finally happened.

Jim Thome is a member of the Minnesota Twins.

About Jeremiah Graves

I am a professional library dude, a cheeseburger enthusiast, a wannabe writer, a slow-pitch softball center fielder, an avid hunter (of churros), a cat-person, and — hopefully — one of your two or three favorite Iowans.
This entry was posted in AL Central, American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Delmon Young, Free Agency, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Minnesota Twins, MLB. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Minnesota Inks Twins-Killer Jim Thome, but is he the Best Fit?

  1. Pingback: Why the Minnesota Twins Need to Go All-In for Orlando Hudson « Cheap Seat Chronicles

  2. Pingback: 2010 MLB Predictions: Ten Burning Questions for the Minnesota Twins « Cheap Seat Chronicles

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