Twins Sign Thome

26 Jan

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It’s official, My Homie, Jim Thome, is now a Minnesota Twins player! I wrote thoughts a couple of days ago, but briefly, it’s impossible not to like the deal. At $1.5 million base and $700,000 in potential incentives, the risk is low. Thome is still 39 years old, so he’s got something left. He’s got over 560 home runs. He has hit 30 or more homers 12 times in his career. He hit 23 last year. It will be interesting to see how much he plays. He is a designated hitter and a pinch hitter, a left-handed bat. Yes, they already have Jason Kubel, but Kubel can play some left field. If he gets more than 250 plate appearances, it means that Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer or Delmon Young got hurt or simply did not perform. It is interesting that Bill Smith is saying that Thome was brought in as a pinch hitter while Gardy is saying that he will get plenty of at bats. What will happen? We shall see. But again, big picture, $1.5 million is more than fair for a player of Thome’s background and power, even if he is just a pinch hitter. Consider a bench that would include Drew Butera or Jose Morales, Jason Pridie, Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert. Intimidating, huh?  I don’t think so either. Of course, someone will need to be removed from the 40 man roster to make room for Thome. Could it be Glen Perkins or Alexi Casilla (maybe in a trade?), or could Steve Tolleson be taken off the 40 man? We shall see. Big picture? Very good signing for the Twins. There really is no negative in this deal. I like it.


26 Responses to “Twins Sign Thome”

  1. Bill in Sarasota January 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    With the Thome signing and the assumption of 12 pitchers, the last two roster spots is between: Tolbert, Casilla, 3B vet (Crede), and Pridie.

    Would Twins just keep Cuddyer, Span, Young, and Kubel as OF by using Punto or Hardy or Tolbert as the emergency OF?

    Span needs an occasional rest, so I think Pridie makes it based on CF defense.

    Then the last two spots would be Pridie and Tolbert/Casilla. I would expect Gardy would pick Tolbert since he can back up all three IF (2B, SS, 3B).

    If this is the case, I would like Thome to get to PH every game for either Punto or 3B (Harris/Tolbert).

    • Jim January 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

      Bill, you hit on the essential downside, but i would say some of it a little differently:

      We agree on your last 2 roster spots. I think Punto can play emergency center, but is not the regular back-up, so you have to have someone like Pridie. That leaves one spot which could be either a 3B vet, valencia, tolbert or Casilla.

      If we go out and get the 3b vet, who presumably cannot play ss or 2b, we have only one back-up infielder (Harris) for 3 spots and a signficant loss of team speed. Is having Thome on the bench available for pinchhitting worth the loss of speed and flexibility? Not in my mind. PLus, if Valencia is ready mid-year, you have to get rid of the vet 3b or Thome to make room. You can’t afford to get rid of anyone else. And if we pay the money to Thome/vet 3b, I doubt we cut them, so we’re unlikely to see much of Valencia this year even if he’s playing well.

      Pretty much the same issue (at least the first part)if Valencia gets the role.

      If we don’t get a 3b and don’t bring up Valencia, then it’s either TOlbert/Casilla which are pretty much interchangable. So one of those guys, or Harris, has to play everyday. Is having Thome’s production worth the loss in production of an everyday valencia or vet 3b? Not in my view.

      Having said that, I have a ton of respect for Thome, and the price was very fair. So it’s not about the player, it’s about preventing us from filling our most critical need. IF we didn’t have the roster crunch, I’d be thrilled by the signing.

  2. GoTwins January 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Would’ve preferred a right handed bat, but definately can’t argue with the price. Nice insurance in case Young, Kubel, Cuddyer, or Morneau does get injured. Can give Young the day off against some better righties and let Thome DH. Also, can play Cuddyer at 1st and give Morneau a day off every once in a while to try to keep him fresh all year coming off an injury. Think he’ll bring a little bit of what Redmond brought to the clubhouse to keep everyone loose, and hopefully provide a little more power on the field than Redmond did.

  3. Gopher Nation January 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    I am just not convinced he has anything left in the tank and would rather have put the dollars toward 3b. Plus, he doesn’t have enough versatility to take up another roster spot and will cause some issues with the final roster/bench.

  4. Andrew January 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    If Perkins or Casilla was traded, the Twins would need to either include a 2nd player that’s currently on the 40-man roster or ask for a minor league player in return, otherwise the Twins would be back in the same spot pre-trade.

  5. Kunza January 26, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Horrible deal. Gardenhire will find a way to give him 400+ ab’s while Delmon Young will get squeezed again. I am not advocating that Delmon Young is a great player by any means, but we need to give him one more try in a full season.

    Jason Bartlett? Jason Kubel? Similar guys to Young – Gardy hated those two and only until they got consistent AB’s did Gardy have to eat his own crow. Giving Gardy another veteran to suck the life out of AB’s from Young is just a horrible idea.

    And if any of those AB’s come at the expense of Jason Kubel’s AB’s, this can only be looked at as a horrible idea.

    • clutterheart January 26, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

      Gardy hated Kubel?
      When did that happen?
      I seem to remember Kubel being highly thought of who has gotten plenty of AB since coming back from a horrible injury…

  6. ScottyB January 27, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    Sorry Seth, but I totally disagree. When I was a kid, teams had a 9 or 10 man pitching staff, 8 starting batters, 2 reserve catchers, and 5 or 6 additional players for the bench. Today, with 12 man pitching staffs and DH’s, those 5 or 6 players are 3. They need to be as versatile as possible. Those who dream of picking up a veteran 2nd or 3rd baseman are dreaming at this point. Punto is starting, period, it’s a given. Harris is locked into this roster with a 2-year contract. He will now be your starter.

    The way I look at the situation is this. We had 2 options. First, sign a veteran 2nd or 3rd baseman, put Punto in the other slot, and have a bench with Harris, Tolbert, catcher (Butera, then Morales), and a veteran OF’er who could play all 3 slots (see Rocco Baldelli). Or second, Sign Thome, start Punto at 2nd and Harris at 3rd, and have a bench of Tolbert, catcher (Butera, then Morales), Pridie and Thome. I think scenario #1 is much better. It improves both the lineup and the bench.

    • Cris E January 27, 2010 at 10:27 am #

      Of course #1 is better: you’re adding two guys in places you want to see change. Add Rocco Baldelli to #2 and it’d improve.

      Want a crazy idea? Don’t put another OF on the bench. Have Tolbert or Punto actually play CF twice a month to rest Span and otherwise follow Earl Weaver’s advice for that role. (Hey Earl, where’s your backup SS? In Rochester, where he belongs.) It’s too big a conceptual jump for Gardy, so it won’t happen. But if Tolbert could play CF at all it would be kind of a cool roll of the dice.

      • ScottyB January 27, 2010 at 11:11 am #

        Twice last season we had periods where players (Span and Punto) went down for 3 days to a week (Punto with oblique strain, Span with dizziness – twice). If that happens this season, they will have to be put on the DL immediately and be out for 2 weeks. There is zero leaway here. With a razor thin bench (1 infielder, 1 outfielder, 1 catcher and 1 bat), if 2 guys go down with the flu at the same time (say Punto and Harris), we could not field a lineup. (I guess you could put Cuddyer at 2nd, Tolbert at 3rd, Kubel in RF and Thome at DH – but I wouldn’t want to be the one pitching that day). We sure could use someone like Brandon Inge who could play 3rd, catcher, CF, LF, and RF – that’s the kind of versatility that’s needed. I guess we’re going to have to work Morales out in the infield this season (where he used to play), no matter how bad he is.

  7. Bill in Sarasota January 27, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    I wanted Ryan Garko vs. LHP but I still like the Thome signing. I think the threat off the bench affects the late inning strategy of the other manager and he still is very effective vs RHP.
    With the Thome signing, it points out Casilla and a 3B get squeezed out. If Valencia gets on fire at AAA, he could replace Harris as the 3B in the 2nd half and Harris could replace Tolbert as the utility guy. Compared to Crede, who’s uncertain to be healthy any day of the week and he’s another $ commitment. Whereas with Valencia and Tolbert, the Twins have the flexibility of changing it around at any time of the season.

    • Ben January 27, 2010 at 10:17 am #

      I don’t think the left/right hitting thing matters for pinch hitting. What lefties would get pinch hit for?

  8. Eric Hustad January 27, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    I like the move as it’s a low risk signing and I think the guy can still be dangerous off the bench. Now let’s get Mauer locked up and a 3b and get on with spring training !!!

  9. J. Lichty January 27, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    I like this move. Would have loved it 5 years ago even more.

    Gardy gets final say what happens between the lines. Once Smith puts him on the team, if Gardy wants to get him at bats he will. Apart from scrappy no-hit utility men, Gardy loves veterans. Thome will see 400 PA.

  10. Roy Hobbs January 27, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Kunza should get a one week ban for even suggesting Gardy hates Kubel. Kubel has always been chersished in the organization and for a long time was consideredd a better prospect than Morneau. Injuries simply sidetracked him for awhile. The Thome signing is brilliant even if I would have preferred Johnny Damon for the same dough. Given our 2nd base probable profile and bench (Punto, Harris, Casilla, Tolbert or some combo thereof) Thome could pinch hit in every game in place of one of the Smurfs. Plus Thome is the ultimate clubhouse guy for a club that lacks that.

  11. Joe January 27, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Great deal for the Twins. This deal is like you said, insurance for Delmon Young if he struggles. Right handed pitchers who see the Twins lineup are going to freak out when they go into a late inning with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Jim Thome in a row and some nights.

    As for the next move I think it is going to be for 2011 and not 2010. Kelly Thesier did report that Bill Smith and the organization was going to stay true to the $90 million budget and the fact that they went little over that is surprising enough. The estimate now is at $91.4 million.

    So their season is over. I still have a huge feeling that Danny Valencia will have a solid spring but start the year in AAA. He will do will there raising his OBP back to his career numbers unlike his random have season in Rochester. I expect him to be with Minnesota in mid June and to be an everyday starter in July.

    If the Twins are able to pull off a miracle and get Orlando Hudson for a 1 year 5 or 6 million dollar deal that would be great. I think because of Felipe Lopez’s age (30) he is still exploring a 2 year deal and might get it from St. Louis.

    So the 2010 offseason for the Twins is done. But not 2011. Joe Mauer hopefully will be signed before Valentines Day.

  12. Dave January 27, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Really? I must have missed the love fest with Gardy tenderly putting his arm about Kubel. The big loser obviously is Young (is there any disagreement about how Gardy feels about him?) with Kubel second. It also means Kubel will play more outfield than he would have, considerably raising the odds he’ll mess up his knees. Dumb.

  13. mike wants wins January 27, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    Gardy let a then rookie Kubel face Rivera in the NYY loss a few years ago. Gardy has NEVER treated Kubel like he treated Garza or others that went to college….

  14. Han Joelo January 27, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Great move. Thome took a low salary and a possible bench role because he wants to win, and thinks the Twins can. He’s a veteran of playing in cold weather and probably will suffer little whining.

    I’d be willing to guess that the Twins aren’t done, and the $90 mil figure is only a negotiating ploy–if you were a free agent and you knew a team still had $10 million in their budget, it would certainly give you some leverage.

  15. TT January 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    I would not assume Casilla is the odd man out here. First, its not clear Tolbert is that much better defensively at shortstop. I believe Casilla is out of options and Tolbert isn’t. Is that right? I don’t think the Twins need both of them on the roster if they have someone at AAA.

    If they sign Crede and Harris is the only backup, that would be more worrisome since he really isn’t a good glove at second or shortstop. But Punto, Crede and, presumably, Hardy are not guys you need a defensive substitute for.

    I don’t think the Twins are making any plans around Valencia at third base this year, any more than they are Casilla at second base. Either one could surprise them by stepping up in spring training and taking a job. But that is not likely.

    Thome actually makes the team a lot deeper at first base and in the outfield. That may be a bigger issue than the infield.

    The other thing about Thome is that he is a perfect veteran bat for the playoff roster if the Twins get that far.

  16. mike wants wins January 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    You’ll need to substitute defensively if Thome PHs…as he’s only likely to PH for Punto, Harris, Crede, Young….so the backup infielder does matter (unless you are just not going to actually use Thome ever).

  17. Roy Hobbs January 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I only wish there was a viable competitor for Young as an every day outfielder as he is exactly what the Yankees are looking for ( low-cost RH bat to play LF). He could be bait for bullpen help of which the Yankees have in abundance and is still a concern for the local nine. I think Delmon’s epitaph has been written in Minnesota and the front office is just looking for an exit strategy for one of their most ill-fated trades.

  18. TT January 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    “so the backup infielder does matter”

    They only need one, not two.

  19. Pradesh January 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    This has a Crede resignature written all over it.

  20. mike wants wins January 28, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    My point is that it matters who it is. He’ll need to be able to play 2b, ss, 3b, not just 3b for example (so it can’t be valencia). I’m not sure where I said they’ll need two….

  21. scot January 28, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    Tolbert has good versatility and Casilla is in Gardy’s doghouse so he and Perkins should be traded yet.
    Sign Crede and our bench is Tolbert, Thome, Harris,
    and whoever our backup catcher is.

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