Thome could be one of the missing pieces in the Phillies' lineup, but how effective can he be?
What follows is a quick breakdown of what Thome's signing means for the Phillies.
Cover for Ryan Howard:
First and foremost, Ryan Howard will miss the beginning of the 2012 season. Thome could start at first base in his stead if he is in good shape. Thome has primarily played designated hitter since 2006 so his fielding could definitely be an issue.
Left-Handed Power Batter:
Thome's addition gives the Phillies a left-handed power batter, which they have been lacking for some time. Thome managed 15 HR and 50 RBIs in only 277 at-bats during the 2011 season. The trouble will be finding at-bats for Thome once Howard returns. Will he be an effective pinch hitter?
Potential Injury Risk:
Thome is 41 years old and has struggled with recurring back problems in the past. The Phillies obviously don't see him as too much of a risk, but this seems like a step in the wrong direction if the Phillies are trying to become a younger team. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke about getting younger back in October:
"I think we do have to try to get young if we can. It's not easy to do. We did get a little younger with our staffs. At some point, we're going to have to get younger with our position players. It's a young game, and it's played by young players."
Despite these comments and his age, Thome will get a chance to show the Phillies that he still has gas in the tank.
It was Thome's season-ending right shoulder injury that gave Ryan Howard his chance to steal the starting role at first base back in 2005. Now, Thome is being given a final shot to come back and help the Phillies win a World Series.