There are so many things wrong with Jim Thome going to the Red Sox that as I propose the idea, I'm also going to talk myself out of it.
It sounds messed up -- and it is -- but follow me on the journey, won't you?
Let's just get the obvious out of the way in reasons why the Sox and Thome aren't a match:
- Can't play defense. The only person that doesn't play defense on the Red Sox is David Ortiz. Do we need two Ortiz-like defenders? One is bad enough.
- Might have better offers elsewhere. He could probably be the starting DH for a lot of American League teams, including the White Sox, who could bring the slugger back.
- Lefties dominate him. OK, dominate is not the word for a player with 564 career home runs. Let's just say he's not as good against lefties as he is righties.
Randy, you made a good case against yourself. Good job. Now let's turn the page and talk about why Thome could be a fit with the Red Sox.
First of all, Thome is a slugger. Even at the age of 38 last season, Thome hit 23 home runs in 107 games with the White Sox. He had an .891 OPS before the All-Star break last year. It doesn't matter who the batter is, we'll take that. While his batting average might not be the prettiest, he can still put good wood on the ball.
Thome is also a perfect candidate for the Sox because he has a fantastic batting eye. His lifetime .404 OBP (with a .277 batting average) would make him fit right in with players like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Victor Martinez and, potentially, Jason Bay (and hopefully whoever our new shortstop is).
OK, he can hit for power and get on base. That's a good combo. What else? He's going to be cheap. He made $13 million last year in his time between the Dodgers and White Sox, but I will guarantee right now that Thome will not sign for more than $5M this offseason. There is no way. If he does, I will change my avatar to Evan Longoria for one month. And I hate Evan Longoria.
Signing Thome would be kind of like the Sox signing John Smoltz, Takashi Saito and Brad Penny last year. Three guys who are obviously past their primes, but Theo Epstein still sees that they can contribute somehow. Well, Penny did all right -- he wasn't a complete bust. Smoltz was a complete bust. And Saito was great. So if Thome's between Penny and Saito, I'll be happy.
Thome would be great insurance for the Sox if David Ortiz decided to hit like David Ortiz pre-June 2009. If Ortiz falters, we can stick Thome in the lineup on occasion and, hopefully, he doesn't falter. Thome is like the white version of David Ortiz ... and I really can't see many more differences than that, to be honest.
The only thing that would make Thome better is if a) he hit lefties better (that way, Ortiz smashes righties and Thome smashes lefties -- a great combo) and b) Thome could really play defense. But then again, if Thome could do both of those things, he would be going for more than $5M this offseason.
With Thome, the Sox would get a power hitter off the bench that has a great batting eye (not to mention a great clubhouse guy, from all reports). The downsides are the fact he's older and can't play defense, but he'd provide substantial pop off the bench and could help the Sox if anything happens to Ortiz in 2010.
Call me crazy, but I'm pulling for Randy to be right in this debate.