Is this the end of the line for Jim Thome? Is there nothing left for the big guy to do?
Jim Thome is my favorite active player in MLB. I have always found him to be a very solid clutch power hitter with an excellent presence in the clubhouse. That is evidenced by the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him up from the White Sox to shore up their bench hitting.
What did you say, bench hitting? Yeah, that is what he is apparently reduced to. Coming off the bench against a right handed pitcher to take three mighty swings and sit back down.
When he moved from Philadelphia to Chicago in 2006 he was immediately employed as a Designated Hitter. This did two things.
First it helped him stay healthy for most of the time, and secondly, it has made him soft defensively. So soft, in fact that he told Dodgers' GM, Ned Colletti, 'I just want to be honest with you. I'd love to come. I want to help you guys any way I can. But playing first base is not something I'm going to be able to do—maybe in an emergency situation, perhaps.'"
So there, right from the horse's mouth as it were sir. Maybe in an emergency situation, that is a shame.
Thome is currently in 12th place on the all time Home Run list with 564, behind only Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez as far as active players are concerned.
If he were playing everyday for the rest of this year, I believe he would hit his 600th HR next year around mid-season. Obviously, that will not happen now. If he is used exclusively as a pinch hitter he will only see 20-30 more at bats.
It is his best interest, if he indeed wishes to play next year that he sign with an American League team as a DH. If he surpasses the 600 mark in HR, I don't see how his naysayers could keep him from Cooperstown.
Jim personifies everything that is good about the game of baseball. He is wholesome, friendly, tobacco free and an excellent role model for youngsters to get behind. In fact he is so congenial that a couple years ago he came in 2nd as the friendliest player in MLB. He finished only behind the "Mayor" Sean Casey.
He will become a free agent after the World Series and I am sure there will be more than one AL squad trying to obtain his service as a DH. If he cannot play, or DH everyday, I would rather see him walk off into the cornfield with Shoeless Joe than hang around as a career pinch hitter.
Good luck Jim.