Well, what else can I say that I didn’t say here? Amazingly, my $1 million or more guess wasn’t too far off, as Thome signed for $1.5 million with up to $750,000 in incentives ($100K for 250, 300, and 350 plate appearances and $150K for 400, 450, and 500). It’s rumored that the Tampa Bay Rays offered more money to Thome, but it sounded like he wants to win and he felt that the Twins would give him a better chance of making the playoffs than the Rays.
I was very surprised to see the White Sox fail to sign him. Ozzie Guillen wants his DH flexibility, but I can’t say that a combination of Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, and Carlos Quentin (well, maybe Quentin if he stays healthy) would come even relatively close to what the Sox could have received from Thome.
I’ve heard some worries about Thome being a pinch-hitter, but I think he will be fine. After all, he’s been a designated hitter ever since he came back to the AL, and what do you do as a DH? Sit on the bench until it’s your time to hit. What do you do as a pinch-hitter? Excluding “getting into the flow of the game” and your number of at-bats in a game, there’s not much of a difference.
This makes it sound like the Twins will be taking at-bats away from Delmon Young, shortly after it seemed like he’d finally get to roam lumber freely in left field. However, there are conflicting reports from Gardy and Bill Smith. Gardy says that Thome will get plenty of at-bats, while Smith says that he’ll be mainly a pinch-hitter, so something’s got to give here. This isn’t the first time Gardy and the front office have disagreed on the players on the roster.
First off, this undoubtedly strengthens the Twins’ bench. Second, if Jason Kubel remains in the lineup when Thome starts, then the Twins have Span, Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Thome to dominate pitchers from the left side of the plate. If the Twins can get a good hitter into the 2nd spot of the order, the Twins would have a very good top seven hitters in the lineup. It wouldn’t be Yankee-good, but it still would certainly rival almost every other lineup in the AL.
If Gardy gets his way, my second point above will happen quite often. The Twins (amazingly) sacrifice some defense by putting Kubel in for Young,* but have a killer offense. But if Bill Smith gets his way, then we’re back to seeing Delmon hit against RHP, of which I’ve already mentioned how I feel, with Thome coming off the bench. Most, if not all relief pitchers would be displeased knowing that their opposition in the batter’s box has upgraded from Puntomian to Thomian levels.
* Some might argue the difference in defense between the two is a wash. I’m just quoting what each player’s career UZR/150 tells me.
Lastly, there are two things that I don’t think anyone else has mentioned. First, it means that I can enjoy The Dugout even more, since Jim Thome is a major character (you should really read that first before you continue) on the site. Second, in addition to the opening of Target Field, this likely means that the Twins will get more attention from the national media….unless this ends up like Terrell Owens with Buffalo. I can see it now…
Welcome to the Target Field Chatroom!
WordUpThome: SITTING ON 599 DINGERS, CAN’T WAIT TO GET NUMBER 6
WordUpThome: COME ON, LUKE HOCHEVAR. I’M HUNGRY, THROW ME A MEATBALL
Luke Hochevar complies to Jim Thome’s request by throwing him a meatball.
WordUpThome: THAT WAS A METAPHOR, LUKE, BUT OK
Jim Thome has just hit his 600th career home run to straightaway center field.
WordUpThome: EXCELLENT, ESPN AND MLB NETWORK WILL SPEND ALL NIGHT CELEBRATING THE 600TH HOME RUN FOR JI
WordUpThome: JIM THOME
Later that night, ESPN and MLB Network spend their entire evenings discussing Joe Mauer’s contract situation.
The next day…
WordUpThome: I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR YEARS. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO STEAL MY THUNDER, JOE MAUER?
LawnMauer: /hits opposite field double