The Curious Case of Jim Thome

From espn.com

by Alex Young

There might not be a more universally loved baseball player than Jim Thome. He is a god in every city he’s played in from Cleveland to Chicago to Philly. An argument could be made that he saved baseball in Philadelphia. When he came here as a free agent, it finally felt like we were worth something. A big name player actually wanted to play for the Phillies.

It’s easy to get excited when he has a week like he’s just had, and when he hits a bomb like the 460-foot dinger he hit last night in Minnesota. For how this team has been hitting this year, having a punch like that in the lineup has been like a literal injection of adrenaline. It’s not quite as surprising that Phillies score a lot of runs when Thome is in the lineup.

The only problem is that it won’t last.

Thome has been doing great and it’s been fun watching him, but he’s doing it as a designated hitter. He’s doing it in American League parks where he doesn’t have to play defense. When the Phillies finish up their Interleague road games in Toronto on Sunday, Jim Thome’s usefulness to the Phillies will be over.

Thome is only effective as a hitter when he gets everyday at bats, something he just can’t do for a National League team. He’s too old, too slow and too much of a liability in the field to play everyday at first base.

Luckily for the Phillies, the solid week of production displays the value that Thome can give to an American League team. If they dangle him as trade bait, there’s a chance they can get some much-needed bullpen help in return, and let’s face it, that’s what they need more than anything.

If I have to watch that rag-tag, minor-league bullpen slowly give away leads all season, I might throw my TV out the window.

If the Phillies can’t use Thome the way that he needs and deserves to be, they need to set him free. And get as much in return as possible.

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