Saturday, January 15, 2011

The return of Jim Thome

I was skeptical -- at times embarrassingly so -- of the merits of signing Jim Thome last year. I detailed my reasons to be wary of Thome here and here.

Jim Thome contributed some of the
most memorable moments in Target
Field's first year.
That the signing turned out to be a great help to the Twins in 2010 didn't erase the reasons to be wary. And those reasons remain. He still can't help a team in the field, still painfully slow, still doesn't hit left-handers particularly well.

What he does do, he does extremely well, or at least he did last season. (Rob Neyer suggests here that Thome in 2010 was the most productive old part-time player in major league history.) Even at twice the salary of last year, it's not difficult to see why the Twins wanted him back.

I fear that there's bit of Brett Favre flavor to Thome's return -- an aging star coming off a surprisingly superb season and hoping for another season of magic. In Thome's case, of course, he's being paid as, and counted on as, a part-time player, not as the cornerstone of the roster.

We shouldn't expect him to perform at his 2010 level. That's asking a lot of anybody. If the regulars in the Twins DH-corner outfield-first base nexus stay healthy, there's not a ton of playing time left over -- but Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel have all had significant injuries in the past. Thome should still be productive enough to help fill the gaps as they arise.

At least there's this in favor of the deal: There had been reports connecting Manny Ramirez to the Twins. That notion, farfetched as it seems to me, is now dead and buried. Which it probably was anyway; I cannot imagine Ron Gardenhire letting Manny B. Manny in his clubhouse.


  1. The Favre analogy is interesting, but the one big difference is Thome is the consummate team player, and even in Favre's glory days, it always seemed to have to be about him. But I think you're absolutely right in warning Twins' fans that a year like last year would be a pretty amazing feat.

  2. Not only will we probably be disappointed with Thome this year but we still need a right-handed power outfielder to combat all lefties in our lineup. I can't believe the team hasn't addressed this hole.