Tag:Jim Thome
Posted on: October 23, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Ortiz top DH



By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the toughest positions for a free agent to land a big contract got a little tougher after Adam Dunn's terrible 2011. Teams are already skittish on spending big bucks (and maybe more importantly, tying those dollars up for years) to a DH, plus with only 14 of the 30 teams having the position, it's difficult for any free agent DH to have leverage. Most of the teams already have a DH under contract, so the possibilities here are going to be pretty repetitive.

1. David Ortiz: Big Papi created a stir when he said he may be interested in playing for the Yankees, but it's unlike the Yankees would want to spend that kind of money on Ortiz. Instead, they expect to have Jesus Montero as their main designated hitter in 2012 and beyond. Ortiz struggled early in 2011, but finished with a .309/.398/.554 line with 29 homers and 96 RBI. Even though he didn't start his career with the Red Sox, it's tough to imagine him in any other uniform. 
Possible teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners

Edwin Encarnacion2. Edwin Encarnacion: The Blue Jays have a $3.5 million option on Encarnacion, who has been a frustrating player to watch. Just when you think he's done, he goes on a hot streak, and he can really hit when he's hot. After the All-Star break, Encarnacion hit .291/.382/.504 with 11 homers and 36 RBI. Encarnacion played third base and first base, but DH is his best defensive position.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Mariners, Athletics

Johnny Damon3. Johnny Damon: Damon will be 38 next season and he's more or less finished in the outfield, even though he did play some first base with the Rays last season. In 150 games, he hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI. The Rays are considering bringing Damon back, but he'd have to cost less than the $5.25 million he made in 2011. Damon is 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career and would likely need two more seasons to reach the milestone. It could be difficult for him to find a place to do it unless he decides to take a pay cut. 
Possible teams: Rays, Mariners, Athletics

Jim Thome4. Jim Thome: There was a report that the White Sox were considering offering Thome their hitting coach position, but did not. However, that may be a sign of which way Thome may be leaning in his decision for 2012. Thome did say he was leaning toward playing, and although he was used mostly against right-handers, his splits were pretty even -- .257/.352/.470 against right-handed pitchers and .253/.385/.493 against left-handers. Thome seemed energized after joining the Indians, hitting .296/.390/.479 in Cleveland. Even if he doesn't return, he will have solidified his Hall of Fame resume, hitting his 600th home run in 2011. 
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Athletics, retirement

Hideki Matsui5. Hideki Matsui: The A's loved Matsui, if not his production. A solid influence on younger players, Matsui hit just .251/.321/.375 in 2011, but rebounded hit hit .295/.353/.425 in the second half of the season. Matsui would have to accept less than the $4.25 million he earned in 2011, but that doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. Most expect him to return to Oakland, especially with the A's agreeing to open the season in Japan against the Mariners.
Possible teams: Athletics, Mariners, Japan, retirement

Jorge Posada6. Jorge Posada: One of the "core four" is probably done as a Yankee. If Posada wants to keep playing, he'll do it in a different uniform. The Yankees will be moving on with Montero as their DH who can also catch. Posada hit a career-worst .235/.315/.398 with 14 homers in 2011, but did go 6 for 14 in the NLDS against the Tigers, starting all five games. He struggled against left-handers this season, hitting .092/.169/.108 against lefties. With few DH spots available, he may not find any takers and will retire a Yankee, not by choice, but because there's nobody out there willing to let him play for another team.
Possible teams: Athletics, retirement

Vladimir Guerrero7. Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero has said he'd like to play two or three more seasons, but it could be the end of his career, as well. Guerrerro hit .290/.317/.416 in 2011, but had just 13 home runs in 145 games for the Orioles. Guerrero passed Julio Franco for the most hits by a Dominican-born player late in the season and finished the season with 2,590 hits and 449 home runs. Guerrero didn't get a contract until Feb. 18 last year, but did get the money he was looking for -- that could be tougher this season. Still, there are teams out there that could use him.
Possible teams: Orioles, Athletics, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays, retirement

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 1:32 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Gio buries Angels



By Matt Snyder


Gio Gonzalez, A's. The Angels desperately needed this game and they had their ace on the hill. All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver worked 8 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs, but he was outdueled by Gonzalez. The A's left-hander allowed only three hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings and pretty much ended the Angels' postseason chances with a 3-1 A's win. They are eliminated in the AL West and have an absolutely minute chance in the wild card.

Ryan Braun, Brewers. MVP? He might well win it on the strength of Friday night's three-run bomb in the eighth, as the Brewers clinched the NL Central.

Jim Thome, Indians. Prior to the game, the Indians announced that they would erect a statue of Thome in Progressive Field. During the game, he reminded everyone why. In a 6-5 victory, Thome went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI.



David Price, Rays. The Rays really needed this one. Sure, the offense was stifled in a masterful performance by Blue Jays' pitcher Brandon Morrow, but Price didn't have a memorable night. At least not in a good way. He allowed five runs in six innings. The box score only shows two of those runs being earned, but that's because of two throwing errors Price himself made in a three-run third inning. And the Rays now have a very tough task in the wild-card race

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies. The 22-year-old rookie looked great in his first two big-league starts, but he got a wakeup call Friday night against the worst team in the majors. The Houston Astros lit him up for seven hits and six earned runs in just two innings.

The White Sox. Well, let's see. Bruce Chen absolutely owns them -- as he spun yet another gem against the Sox Friday night. The White Sox only managed two hits all game. Their pitching staff also allowed 18 hits and 11 runs, including nine extra-base hits to the Royals. Oh, and starting pitcher Zach Stewart also committed two errors. So other than a poor showing with offense, defense and pitching, it was a good night. Right?

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Indians to honor Thome with statue



By Matt Snyder


Slugger Jim Thome began and played more than half his Hall of Fame career with the Indians. After a late-August trade sent him back to Cleveland, it's entirely possible he ends his career there, too (he's reportedly still mulling over a 2012 return). He'll soon be immortalized in Progressive Field for future generations of Indians fans to see, as the team announced Friday night it will erect a statue depicting Thome. It will be placed where one of his longest home runs landed (Mark Gonzales via Twitter).

Thome, 41, earlier this season became the eighth person in baseball history to hit 600 home runs. He now has 603, 336 of which came in an Indians uniform. He helped lead the Indians to the postseason six times from 1995-2001, three times finishing in the top 10 in AL MVP voting. Thome also has the 18th best OPS (.959) in MLB history and ranks eighth in career walks.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:22 am
 

Pepper: Harwell statue vandalized



By Matt Snyder


Evidently nothing is sacred to the masses.

A statue of late, legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell outside Comerica Park in Detroit was vandalized recently. His likeness is now without glasses, and it appears someone needed to use a crowbar in order to pry the glasses off the statue. The Tigers are going to have new glasses put on the statue, but that doesn't mean they can prevent some dregs of society from taking them away again.

"We're going to attach them as strongly as possible," says Omri Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Fort Sheridan, Ill. (Detroit News), "but if somebody has a crowbar and a little persuasion, you cannot keep the glasses on anybody. Anything that can break a car can break a statue."

I wish I could say I was surprised to read this, but I wasn't. Going into some tirade about society's ills would be misplaced, though, because one bad egg doesn't mean everyone is sick. It's just amazing the kind of things that some of these losers think are cool. What are you possibly going to do with some bronze glasses? Get a life.

Must-read story: Earlier this season, Marlins pitcher Chris Hatcher gave a ball to the son of a U.S. soldier who was about to go back out to Kuwait. Hatcher just received a neatly-folded American flag in the mail from the soldier and plans to proudly display it at his home. The entire story -- at Fish Tank blog -- is definitely worth a read.

Favorites for Prince: Jon Heyman of SI.com runs down a list of who he believes will be the favorites to land Prince Fielder in free agency this coming offseason. Here is the list, in order of likelihood (according to Heyman): 1. Orioles, 2. Cubs, 3. Rangers, 4. Nationals, 5. Dodgers, 6. Brewers, 7. Mariners, 8. Cardinals, 9. Marlins.

Yankees, Red Sox most popular: Judging simply from the number of Facebook "likes," the Yankees and Red Sox have the most fans. Yes, I know, this is shocking. The Cubs check in at No. 3, followed by the Giants, Phillies and Braves (Biz of Baseball).

Hanson's chance: Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn't started since August 6, but there's a chance he'll get one more outing this season. He'll throw in an instructional league game Friday, likely around 65 pitches, and if there are no setbacks, the Braves might start him on the final game of the regular season. One caveat, though, is that if a playoff berth is on the line, the Braves will start Tim Hudson, not Hanson (AJC.com). Still, this is good news for the Braves in terms of possibly having Hanson back for the playoffs -- should they hold on.

Puma's honesty: You ever hear players saying it's not all about the money? Yeah, at least 95 percent of them are lying. Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is telling the truth now, though, as his negotiations with the Cardinals have slowed. "It's always about money," Berkman said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "No matter what people say, it's always about the money."

Someone call "People" magazine: Brad Pitt has a new love. Sorry Angelina. Pitt feels "a little bit romantic about the A's," after starring in "Moneyball" and meeting Billy Beane. (SFGate.com)

Papi's pitch: The Red Sox has serious depth issues in the starting rotation due to injuries and John Lackey's underperformance. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves has a 2.82 ERA in 102 innings this season and is pitching very well out of the bullpen. At least one Red Sox player believes this is out of whack. "To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting," David Ortiz said (MLB.com). "Simple as that. Give it a shot."

White Sox have failed: According to first baseman Paul Konerko, it's playoffs-or-bust every single season for the White Sox. So 2011 is "a failure." (Chicago Tribune)

Manuel's bat: Indians slugger Jim Thome was recently presented with a game-used Charlie Manuel bat. Manuel mentored Thome all the way back in the minors in 1990 and then managed him on the 2005 Phillies. In fact, Manuel is the one who urged Thome to use his famous bat point (toward the pitcher) as a timing mechanism. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said of Manuel's bat (MLB.com). "It's going in my office at home."

Bauer, Cole updates: Former college teammates (UCLA) Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole were two of the top three picks in the 2011 MLB Draft. Cole went first overall to the Pirates while Bauer went third to the D-Backs. Cole will likely pitch in the Arizona Fall League, his first competitive pitching since the draft (MLB.com). Bauer has gotten some work in at the Double-A level, but he's been knocked around a bit (7.56 ERA in four starts), so he won't make the bigs this season, as had previously been rumored (MLB.com). Expect both to challenge for rotation spots at some point next season.

New closer: The Orioles have obviously changed closers from Kevin Gregg to Jim Johnson, even though manager Buck Showalter hasn't said so. Johnson has five saves in September to Gregg's one. (Orioles Insider)

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:17 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:12 pm
 

Thome doesn't know if he'll play in 2012

Jim ThomeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Slugger Jim Thome said he's unsure if he'll return for a 22nd season.

Upon his return to Minnesota as a part of the Indians, Thome talked about his future with reporters.

"I haven't thought about it," Thome said (via the Plain Dealer). "I'm very blessed that I've been able to play as much as I have this year. Let's face it, teams have to call. You've got to get into the winter and see where you stand with that.

"Once I get home and sit down with my wife, similar to last year, we'll see where I'm at."

After going 2 for 4 with a homer in his return to Minnesota on Friday, Thome is hitting .246/.348/.462 with 14 homers in 86 games for the Twins and Indians this season, numbers down from his bounce-back 2010 when he hit 25 homers for the Twins. Thome signed a one-year deal with Minnesota before the season and waived his no-trade clause to return to Cleveland.

The free agent designated hitter market is one of the toughest to crack based on the number of jobs available. There are just 14 of those gigs and it's not a position that many teams like to platoon, even though Thome has done that the last two seasons. If you can't hit enough to DH against both lefties and righties, most teams will want a more versatile player to round out the roster.

At 41, it will be interesting to see if Thome fits into anyone's plans. With his homer on Friday, Thome now has 603 in his career.

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Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 11:33 pm
 

September Storylines: Swan songs for players

Oswalt

By Evan Brunell

Note: Through Thursday, the Eye on Baseball team will be churning out two September Storylines per day.

The 2011 season could mark the end of the line for many players in the game -- some of whom will walk away of their own choosing and some who will be forced out. There will be legends and scrubs alike hanging up the cleats. Here's a look at the top nine players that could be bidding farewell to their playing career after the season.

A generation of shortstops: We're gonna start this list out by cheating immediately and count eight players -- yes, eight -- as one on the list. This season could be the end for a cadre of shortstops who, over the last two decades, have been responsible for significant playing time at the position. Orlando Cabrera, Craig Counsell, Rafael Furcal, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada and Omar Vizquel could all choose to hang up their cleats. While none of these players appear to be viable starters in 2011, it's still a significant chunk of history to lose. Between these players, 61,355 plate appearances headed into Monday's games have been earned by these shortstops. Between these players alone, they are responsible for just over 102 full seasons of playing time, assuming 600 plate appearances a year.

It's unlikely that all these players will retire, especially since someone will have to occupy a starting or bench spot. Losing eight shortstops currently holding starting or backup positions would create a major depth void, and teams simply don't have enough resources to fill the gap. Several Dominican Republic newspapers believe Tejada will retire, while Counsell's retirement is a virtual lock.

Here's the breakdown of plate appearances per player through Sunday's games and their debut season:

Orlando Cabrera: 8,213 PA, 1997
Craig Counsell: 5,450, 1995
Rafael Furcal: 6,557, 2000
Alex Gonzalez: 5,935, 1998
Julio Lugo: 5,338, 2000
Edgar Renteria: 8,990, 1996
Miguel Tejada: 9,035, 1997
Omar Vizquel: 11,837, 1989

Roy Oswalt (pictured): Oswalt has made reference enough times to retiring after the season that one has to take the threat seriously. Oswalt rejuvenated his career last season and has been a capable pitcher for Philadelphia this year and is just 34 years old. If he wanted to, he could net another strong contract, but has struggled with back problems all year and has been held to just 17 starts on the season. If Oswalt decides he doesn't have anything left to play for, he'll just go back to his ranch and bulldozer that was a gift from Astros owner Drayton McLane.

If he does indeed retire, he'll do so as one of the best pitchers of the '00s, tying for fifth in the decade for wins with 137 and 10th in ERA with 3.23, a mark that jumps to fifth when you remove relievers from the equation.

September Storylines
To come:
      • Can Jose Reyes stay healthy?
      • Which minor-leaguers can make an impact?
    • A look at the postseason races
Jorge Posada: It's doubtful that the Yankee great will retire. Instead, he's likely going to move on to another team, but he could also end his career having played for just New York and as the best catcher in franchise history since Thurman Munson. In his first year as full-time DH after 14 seasons behind the plate, he's progressively earned less and less playing time the longer the year has gone on thanks to an anemic .244/.322/.407 line. At age 40, no team will live with Posada behind the plate and there are only so many DH jobs to go around. Posada will be in the same spot as several other players toggling between coming back for another year or retiring in jockeying for jobs. A down-and-out DH isn't exactly in demand, especially during a time where the DH is increasingly being used to give players in the field a break as opposed to sticking someone in DH the entire season and leaving him there.

Vladimir Guerrero: Vlad the Impaler looked like he might be done after the 2009 season, but hammered 29 home runs for Texas last year (albeit mostly during a scorching-hot first half), which earned him another starting job this season. But in Baltimore, the wheels have completely fallen off, with the 36-year-old hitting just .277/.307/.390. Guerrero is a lost cause in the field, so is limited to DH these days. He's clearly not doing a good job of it and could elect to walk away as one of the greatest Expos in franchise history and 446 career home runs through Sunday. Guerrero didn't sign until mid-February, adamant on getting a full-time job and an $8 million salary. He won't come close to those guarantees again and may elect to pack it in. The demand for Guerrero, especially after the year he's had, figures to be tame.

J.D. Drew: Drew isn't the only outfielder that many in the game would recognize that could retire, as Magglio Ordonez could also hang them up. But Drew's had a more prominent role, first becoming a lifelong villain in Philadelphia for spurning them in the draft, later signing with the Cardinals. Drew also has had a productive career, despite being injury-prone and has a World Series ring (2007, Boston) to show for it. The 35-year-old isn't the type of person to hang onto a baseball career as long as he can, and would absolutely walk away to be with family. Even though he's had a lousy year in which he lost his starting job to Josh Reddick, he wouldn't lack for job prospects if he decided to return. But given his reputation in the game as a passive player disliked by fans, with injuries constantly sidelining him and more money than he will ever need, Drew could walk away.

Tim Wakefield: Tim Wakefield has had a long and storied career, but is reaching the end of the line. He's failed in six straight instances to grab career win No. 200. Some of these games, he's deserved to come out with a win, but the last two years have been a struggle for him -- especially the second half this season -- and the Red Sox may opt to cut the cord. If that happens, Wakefield will retire, even if he feels like he could return for another season or two. He's also just eight wins away from the all-time Red Sox wins record, a mark that looked sure to fall two years ago but he's collected just 10 wins these last two seasons while losing his role as a permanent starter. When Wakefield retires, he will take his knuckleballer with him, leaving the late-blooming R.A. Dickey as the only knuckler in the majors. Wakefield's retirement is dependent more on Boston's interest in bringing him back.

Javier Vazquez: Vazquez was cryptic about his retirement plans to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, telling the paper that he has known for some time whether this will be his final year or not, but is declining to reveal his answer until after the season.

"Something I've always wanted to do is when I retire to do it on my terms," Vazquez, who has three children, of which the oldest is 8, said. I've never wanted to retire because I couldn't pitch anymore. I want people to say, 'He retired, but he could have kept pitching,' not, 'It was already time for him to retire.'" Vazquez has turned his season around since an awful beginning, posting a 2.53 ERA over his last 75 1/3 innings. Given that, plus the lack of free agent starters, Vazquez may be able to net another sizable contract, but it appears as if he's ready to go home at the age of 35.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports, if Vazquez does retire, he will do so having amassed the the second-most strikeouts by a Latin pitcher, behind just Pedro Martinez. In addition, the righty will probably pass Christy Mathewson for 29th all-time.

Jim Thome: Thome isn't the only slugging first baseman that could hang up his cleats -- Jason Giambi may also call it a season. But there's no doubt that Thome has had the more storied career, recently knocking his 600th home run and heading back to Cleveland in a deal, rejoining the team he came up and had his glory years with. Thome is hitting .238/.347/.477 on the year with 13 home runs in 251 PA, so he could easily find work next year if he wanted to. But with No. 600 out of the way, a return to Cleveland in the books and a current age of 41, Thome could decide to hang it up, even if he would do so without a World Series ring.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Indians place Tomlin, Brantley on DL

By Matt Snyder

As the Indians brace for the return of Jim Thome -- he's going to arrive for Friday's game and is expected to hit cleanup, by the way -- they also had to deal with some injury issues. Specifically, the Indians officially placed both starting pitcher Josh Tomlin and outfielder Michael Brantley on the 15-day disabled list.

Tomlin, 26, is 12-5 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.08 WHIP this season for the Tribe, but he's presently suffering from right elbow soreness. Nick Hagadone has been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take Tomlin's roster spot. Hagadone has a 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings for Columbus.

Brantley, 24, is hitting .266/.318/.384 with seven home runs and 13 stolen bases. Brantley has been playing mostly left field since Kosuke Fukudome was moved to center upon Shin-Soo Choo's return to right. Brantley has been hampered by an injury to his wrist for nearly all of August. He's slumped and hasn't started near as many games as he otherwise would have. Ezequiel Carrera will leadoff Friday night in Brantley's absence. The corresponding move for Brantley hitting the DL is the official activation of Thome.

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Indians place claim on Thome

By Matt Snyder and Evan Brunell

The Cleveland Indians were been awarded a waiver claim for Twins designated hitter Jim Thome, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler learned, and the Elyira Chronicle-Telegram says Thome will indeed become an Indian as early as Friday.

Heading back to Cleveland would be a full circle move for Thome. The man who became the eighth in baseball history to hit 600 career home runs earlier this season began his career with the Indians.

It's unclear if this is a trade or Minnesota will let Thome go to the team on waivers. If Minnesota or Thome changes its mind on the deal, the Twins could decide to pull Thome back and not let the Indians have him. The most likely avenue seems like a trade, but Thome has a no-trade clause and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports Thome wanted to go to the Phillies, although the Indians would be a reasonable alternative. The window in which Thome can be traded closes 48 hours after the claim is awarded.

The Indians do have an obvious need at DH, with Travis Hafner sitting on the disabled list and no guarantee he can stay healthy upon return. The Indians are six games out, though, so you could make an argument they are falling out of contention. And that matters.

At age 40, Thome has been to four League Championship Series and two World Series, but he's never won it all. Thus, his desire to not only return to a place he's beloved -- Philadelphia -- but to the team with the best record in baseball makes sense. If Thome wants a ring bad enough, he could make an interesting play to get to the Phillies. If he rejects a trade to the Indians and the Twins let him walk, Thome could then invoke his no-trade with every other team but the Phillies. Doing so would make him forfeit about $500,000 in remaining salary for this season and possibly tarnish his "good guy" image, but it might get him to Philly and ultimately grab him a ring. That seems like an awful lot of star aligning, though, doesn't it?

It was previously reported by a Chicago outlet that the White Sox would claim Thome -- blocking him from the Indians, who have a better record -- but instead the White Sox were awarded a claim on Jason Kubel.

Thome is hitting .248/.357/.485 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 238 plate appearances this season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com