Was Jim Thome The Best Off-Season Signing?

16 09 2010

Posted by Brady

In the Twin Cities, Jim Thome has been awarded nicknames. Jimmers. Jim Jam. Tater Masher Extraordinaire. Twins fans have made a Twitter account for him. You can find it @FakeJimThome. He gets teased there, and on most Twins blogs, but, Twins fans have learned to love this man. It’s always nice to see a Twins Killer become a Minnesota Twin.

The White Sox paid $13 MM for his services last year. Last season, just after the trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox sent Thome to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thome hit 23 home runs for the South Siders, and was a fan favorite. With Los Angeles, Thome had 4 hits in 17 at bats. All singles. No walks. He owned a very tidy line of .235/.235/.235.

After the season, Thome made it well known that his desire was to return to

Jim Thome wanted to hit in the same lineup with MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Chicago. White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen didn’t want him. They didn’t appreciate his inability to do anything other than hit. They decided to go with Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay, both of whom can field, somewhat. So what did Jim Thome do?.

The rival Twins wanted to sign Jim Thome. And Jim Thome wanted to hit in the same lineup with MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. The only thing that stood in the way was the cash.

The Twins got Thome to sign for $1.5 MM. For Twins fans, it seemed too good to be true. Thome coming off the bench. A bench that last year included Brian Buscher, Mike Redmond, and Brendan Harris. Even if he rarely played, having a future Hall of Famer coming off the bench is the move of a big budget, East Coast team, rather than a small, one and done in the playoffs team.

He was to be used when regular designated hitter Jason Kubel played in the outfield, to either rest Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, or when Cuddyer would play first base to rest perennial All-Star, Justin Morneau. The Twins are not stupid. They know the numbers. They know that Jim Thome hits home runs against them, and they know Jim Thome has to play in the American League due to his allergy to leather.

But Thome’s effect has been more than just on field excellence. He’s worked with Morneau, and helped him alter his swing. How did Morneau respond? By hitting .345 with 18 home runs, and he was well on his way to his second MVP award, before he went down with a concussion in Toronto on July 7th.

According to some, when Theodore Roosevelt said “Speak softly, and carry a big stick", he was talking about Jim Thome.”

But, the big question, as always, was it worth it? The answer to that is a resounding “yes”. So far, in 314 plate apperances, Thome has hit a team leading 23 home runs, and hit .277/.406./631! He’s posted an ISO of .353. The highest mark from a Minnesota Twin since Hall of Famer Harmon Killibrew posted an ISO of .318 in Minnesota’s inaugural season.

Anyway you look at it, home runs, ISO, WAR, and whatever statistic you can think of, Jim Thome has earned his paycheck. At $1.5MM, Thome has earned $65,217.38 per home run. He’s been worth 3.3 WAR so far, earning $454,545.45 per WAR.

Thome has done everything this team as asked him to do. And more. He’s given this team a real veteran leader and teacher. He’s destroyed White Sox pitching. He hit a walk-off home run against Matt Thornton. Hawk Harrelson threw his microphone and left the broadcast booth as soon as Thome hit it. He’s inspired t-shirt slogans (“Thome Is My Homey”). Twins fans have become American history revisionists. According to some, when Theodore Roosevelt said “Speak softly, and carry a big stick”, he was talking about Jim Thome.”

Jim Thome has truly been worth every penny. In terms of money, Thome has

He’s been a player, and a coach. It’s been a fun ride, and the Twins would do well to sign him again, if the price is right.

been the best acquisition the Twins have made in a long time. And I can tell you from watching every Jim Thome plate appearance in a Twins uniform, this has to be the best free agent acquisition in baseball from last offseason. He’s been a player, and a coach. It’s been a fun ride, and the Twins would do well to sign him again, if the price is right.

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20 responses

16 09 2010
BaconSlayer09

Ozzie Guillen still thinks he made the right move.

I don’t know how much more stubborn and stupid you can possibly get. Just admit you’re wrong and GTFO Ozzie.

16 09 2010
bjeyestone

That’s the part that really amazes me….Ozzie made the choice. Not the dude who is paid to make the choice.

17 09 2010
Jon

To correct this fine article, Kenny Williams wanted Thome. Ozzie said he would not give him many ABs.

17 09 2010
D-Dizzle

i believe thome was probably the best POSITION acquisition without question. Brett Meyers might make a case for best overall acquisition.

17 09 2010
givejonadollar

I’m glad to see Jim having so much success. He deserves it. I like Ozzie G but I think he just needs to eat some crow on this one.

Where would the Twins be this year with Jim Thome?

If I was a Twins fan……….Thome would be my Homie too. :)

17 09 2010
Chris

How about Polanco? Hittin’ over .300 on a WS contender in the 2-spot. Great defender as well; equal to or better than Feliz.

17 09 2010
bjeyestone

Chris, Thome’s hitting for more power and getting on base at a significantly higher clip. For a World Series contender.

17 09 2010
JoeDE

Thome also is a DH and Polanco plays above average third base. For a world series contender.

17 09 2010
Chris

I love Jim Thome but the Twins would have been good even without him, the best signing was the Giants getting Aubrey Huff

17 09 2010
bjeyestone

$3MM for one year of Huff, or $1.5MM for a year of Thome.

17 09 2010
JoeDE

My only problem with this article is that it doesn’t contrast his performance against any other free agent signing but still comes to a conclusion that it was the best. What about Polanco, Adrian Beltre, Kelly Johnson, Miguel Olivo or Aubrey Huff. I could continue. I’m just curious what makes this signing better. Also, ” He’s given this team a real veteran leader and teacher.” sounds mighty like intangibles, haha.

17 09 2010
bjeyestone

Joe, show me another free agent signing who has contributed as much or more for as much or less money.

There are some players who have bigger numbers, Vlad Guerrero being one of them, but it came with a $5MM price tag.

And as far as the “real veteran leader and teacher.” remark, that is something that Bill Smith and Ron Gardenhire have tried to do for several years, and they never seem to be able to grab anyone who has ever done anything. With Thome, they get a very accomplished player, who can undoubtedly help. The example I gave with Morneau and his back is just one of the many off the field contributions he’s made.

Intangibles are bullshitty, nonexistent things that supposedly make Derek Jeter the second coming of Babe Ruth.

18 09 2010
19 09 2010
wilchiro

Polanco ($6 million): .297/.335/.391

Thome ($1.5 million): .279/.409/.618

I’m not arguing that Polanco wasn’t a good signing, but Thome was the better signing if you look at the stats and the prices.

20 09 2010
Best Free Agent Signing? (Position Player) « The Few, The Proud, The Braves

[…] been lousy, injured, demoted, and benched. So I don’t think that’s the answer anymore. Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors asked if Jim Thome was the best free agent signing  and made a compelling argument as to why he […]

21 09 2010
Pradesh

From the perspective of a Twins fan, Thome was probably a good buy. Perhaps a little better than the $2 million we are paying Nicky Punto this year.

21 09 2010
Pradesh

Moreover, Thome knows how to properly beat out a single while Punto with his face-first into-first slides does not.

21 09 2010
bjeyestone

I’m also a Twins fan, Pradesh, and I do not understand all the Punto hate.

22 09 2010
Twinstalker

If only Nick Punto were making only 2 million this year (try twice that).

23 09 2010
reganomics86

I think Orlando Hudson is the best twins signing this year. defense, speed on the bases, and power/clutch hitting at times. The only question about him this year has been his health (Thome has been dinged up as well while only playing DH).

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