Recently, talks about Jim Thome’s plans for next season have begun to heat up. On Friday, there was a report from Minnesota that the Twins were interested in bringing in Thome as a DH/pinch hitter. Even though the Twins already have a DH in Jason Kubel, they apparently see the value that Thome brings in more ways than just his ability in the batters box.
After the report from Minnesota surfaced, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was asked about bringing Thome back to the south side. Williams responded that Thome isn’t in the plans, "unless Ozzie (Guillen) says."
Alright, so what does Ozzie say?
Well, according to Ozzie, Thome is only an option if the team would be able to get him a worthwhile number of at-bats. Which leads me to wonder, why is Ozzie concerned with how many at bats the team will be able to provide?
If Thome is willing to sign without being guaranteed an everyday DH role, then isn’t that good enough? I can understand Ozzie feeling that Thome deserves a certain amount of at bats, but if Thome wants to come back regardless of his role, why would you not do it?
Isn’t it an asset to have a person of Thome’s caliber in the clubhouse every day, whether he’s playing or not? Not to mention allowing Thome to sign with a division rival is a decision that could easily come back to bite the Sox in August and October.
Afterall, in limited action the big left-hander hit 23 homers in 362 at-bats last season. Bill James projects him to hit 29 homers in 441 at-bats this season along with drawing 88 walks.
Now with all due respect to the king of the stat heads Bill James, I think those projections are more than a little generous. However it’s still a good sign that Thome does in fact have enough gas in the tank to still supply the Sox with some much needed power at the Cell.
As White Sox fan fest wraps up there is still no word on Thome’s future with the team. Here's hoping that when the Sox head to Arizona in a month, “Slugger Jim” will be back with the good guys.