Tag:Jim Thome
Posted on: August 15, 2011 11:41 pm

Video: Thome's first career home run

By Matt Snyder

Jim Thome became the eighth man in baseball history to hit 600 career home runs when he went deep twice Monday night. He hit his first career home run all the way back in 1991. He was only 21, but he already had serious power and a flair for the dramatic. In the top of the ninth in (old) Yankee Stadium, with Thome's Indians trailing 2-1, he dug in against Steve Farr with a runner on base. And he planted one into the upper deck to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.

Courtesy of MLB.com, check it out below.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:40 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 8:36 am

Much more to Thome than home runs

By Matt Snyder

Monday night, to far less fanfare than he deserved, Jim Thome hit the 599th and 600th home runs of his career. When someone achieves a milestone in sports these days -- the days of social media where every fan in the world gets an anonymous voice with which to tear people down for kicks -- the conversation nearly immediately turns to the big picture. Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

Honestly, I don't even understand how it's a discussion. The best possible outcome a hitter can achieve for his team at the plate is a home run. Only seven men have ever done that more than Jim Thome in the history of baseball. Period. End of discussion, right? Nope, there are still dissenters. The most common has something to do with Thome being a "one-dimensional" player, which is usually packaged with an attack on him being a designated hitter.

On the DH argument, one can't convince the people who believe DHs don't count, so it's not even worth trying. Nevermind that starting pitchers don't complete every game or relief pitchers are specialized. No, if he only bats, there's a certain segment of the fan community that utterly refuses to recognize a DH as a player. So we'll get past that.

As far as Thome being one-dimensional, that is completely false. Yes, he has power and that's the only reason he's still playing at age 40. Honestly, even if he is one-dimensional, I don't understand why it's bad. It's not like his one-dimension is he has a great throwing arm yet can't field. Or he's really fast yet can't get on base. His power is the best possible dimension you can have as a baseball player. You can score one run -- or more -- on one swing. Monday night he drove home five runs in two swings and the Twins won by three. No other aspect of a baseball player can do that. It's just that Thome is more than just home runs.

Look at Thome's on-base percentage. He has 2,263 hits and 1,710 walks. Add in the 68 times he's been hit with a pitch, and Thome has reached base over 4,000 times in his career, good for 42nd all-time. As Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted Monday night, only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds have a higher on-base percentage in the 600 home run club than Thome. He has 440 career doubles, too.

Only 16 players in baseball history have a better OPS. If you aren't familiar with OPS, here's the top five of all-time, for a point of reference: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols.

And let's not forget Thome's personality. You can scoff if you want, but the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically tells voters to consider integrity and character. When Thome hit his 600th home run Monday night, the response on Twitter was overwhelming. From former teammates to long-time opponents to baseball writers to opposing managers to fans, the message was the same: There is no one in baseball nicer or a better person than Thome. An All-Star from the opposite dugout echoed the sentiment Monday night. One writer said he has never, ever heard a bad thing about Thome. And Thome's been in baseball for 21 years. That's pretty difficult to do, even for the best guys in the game. If you want hardware, Thome won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2002 (for sportsmanship) and the Lou Gehrig Award (for character and integrity both on and off the field) in 2004.

One argument I've heard against Thome's Hall candidacy is his lack of MVP pedigree, as he only finished in the top five once and the top 10 four times. My response to this is that he was playing clean in the PED era during his entire prime. You want an example? Click here and look at the numbers in the 2002 AL MVP voting, in which Thome finished seventh. He hit .304 with 52 home runs, 118 RBI, 101 runs and a 1.122 OPS and finished seventh.

A one-dimensional player who "only hits home runs" is Wily Mo Pena or Rob Deer. Maybe you wanna go back to Dave Kingman. That's fine, too. Just do not paint Jim Thome with that brush. He is much better than that and deserves better. He's a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 10:55 pm

Thome slugs home runs No. 599, 600

By Matt Snyder

Career HR Leaders
Player Total
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez-y 626
7. Sammy Sosa 609
8. Jim Thome-y 600
9. Frank Robinson 586
10. Mark McGwire 583
Twins designated hitter Jim Thome has joined one of baseball's most exclusive clubs. Monday night in the top of the sixth inning against the Tigers, Thome took Rick Porcello deep to left-center for a two-run home run. It was the 599th homer of Thome's long career. In the top of the seventh inning, Thome went to left field off Daniel Schlereth for his 600th home run. He drove home five runs in back-to-back at-bats to give the Twins a 9-5 lead.

Thome was greeted at home plate, after his 600th homer, by his family and his Twins teammates. He was also given a respectful, classy ovation from the Detroit fans on hand to witness the historical homers. The 600th home run ball went into the Twins' bullpen, so the story of what some fan will do with the ball goes away. Twins closer Joe Nathan retrieved the ball and it's now in the possession of Thome's son.

Thome is now the eighth man in the history of baseball with 600 career home runs. Alex Rodriguez was previously the most recent player to join the group, which had as few as three members at the turn of the millennium. Thome became the first player in baseball history to hit home runs 599 and 600 in consecutive at-bats. He also became the second-fastest to 600, in terms of at-bats, as only Babe Ruth had less at-bats when hitting his 600th home run. Thome also became the oldest man to reach 600 home runs, passing Sammy Sosa, who was 37 when he hit No. 600 in 2007.

Thome, 40, has been playing in the bigs for parts of 21 seasons with five different teams. He hit 334 home runs for the Indians, 134 for the White Sox, 96 for the Phillies and zero for the Dodgers. Monday night's home runs were the 35th and 36th for Thome in a Twins uniform in what amounts to a bit less than a full season's worth of at-bats. So he certainly still has great power.

One would guess hitting his 600th home run would mean Thome is Hall-of-Fame bound. He still has a career on-base percentage over .400, an OPS of .960 and more than 1,500 runs and RBI. Plus, everyone else in the 600-home run club is either in Cooperstown, headed there, or will be left out due to PED suspicion. Thome has never been connected with PEDs.

More Snyder on Thome: Thome's run at 600 deserved more attention | More to Thome than home runs

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:20 am

Pepper: Thome's silver hammer

Jim Thome

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I know this may seem like a dead horse, but I'm still dismayed at the relative silence around Jim Thome's impending 600th home run. He hit homer No. 598 last night and it seems like it was greeted by crickets. My colleague Matt Snyder wrote about this a couple of weeks ago after I touched on it, so it may seem redundant, but is it any more redundant that the constant (and deserved) fawning over Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit?

I've said all this before, but it just feels like it needs repeating -- Thome will soon become just the eighth player in baseball history to hit 600 home runs. So why is it being overlooked?

Is it because the steroid era has devalued home run totals?

Is it because the next guys on the list are Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez? And the guy atop the list is Barry Bonds?

Is it because Thome isn't a Yankee?

Is it because after 12 years in Cleveland, he's moved around, playing for the Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers and Twins?

Is it because the bulk of his productive years were in Cleveland?

Is it because he's no longer an everyday player?

Is it because there were two weeks between homer No. 595 and 596 and then another two weeks until No. 597? 

Is it because Thome has done it relatively quietly, not drawing a lot of attention to himself, therefore not receiving a lot of attention?

Or am I totally off base and blowing this out of proportion?

It could be any one of those reasons or a good combination of all of them. It just seems to me, it's something that could and should be celebrated not just in Minnesota, but all over baseball. Thome now has 598 home runs and will soon have 600 -- I'm not saying they need to dig out the dirt from the batter's box after his 600th and sell the dirt in keychains (like they did for Jeter), but it should be something we watch, anticipate and celebrate.

The long and winding road: If you don't read every word that comes out of Chris Jones' computer, you're missing out. Canada's finest's most recent piece is on the strange journey of Giants pitcher Barry Zito. I can't recommend it enough. [Grantland]

Here today: Most are assuming that Jose Reyes will re-sign with the Mets this offseason, but not so fast say Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino says the Mets are unlikely to give him the "Carl Crawford money" he is assumed to desire (and should be able to command). Apparently it's not just the money that the Mets are worried about, but also the number of years. The Mets aren't excited about giving the injury-prone Reyes seven years.

Get back: Ryan Zimmerman is back to his old form, even though he's been back on the field for nearly two months. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that it took a while to break up the scar tissue that resulted from his abdominal tear and is no longer experiencing the soreness that had him skipping his post game workouts. 

Let 'em in: Ozzie Guillen's time in Chicago just seems to be at a natural end -- the team has underperformed and everyone seems to be tired of the marriage. Guillen sounds like he's over managing the White Sox in this interview with MLB.com's Scott Merkin, while he tells Yahoo! (via the Miami Herald) that he'd go to the Marlins "with a lot of class," and that it'd be "an honor to manage the Marlins." With Florida moving into a new park next year, it seems like the natural fit -- and he could manage there until Jeffrey Loria loses his patience at the All-Star break next year.

Here today: Red Sox minor leaguer Brandon Jacobs has no regrets about his choice to bypass a football scholarship at Auburn to sign with the Red Sox. Jacobs was a prized running back at Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta, but was drafted by MLB -- and a $750,000 signing bonus later, he found himself on the diamond instead of the gridiron. The 20-year-old has 14 homers and 26 stolen bases at Class A Greenville (S.C.). Even though Auburn won the national championship last season, Jacobs said he watched the game and didn't feel a twinge of regret. An interesting note, Parkview is the alma mater of another prominent football player who skipped a scholarship to play baseball, the Royals' Jeff Francoeur. [Boston Globe]

It was 10 years ago tonight: The Hardball Times looks back at the Indians' rally from an 11-run deficit to beat the Marienrs on Aug. 5, 2001. One thing to keep in mind about that, the Mariners won 116 games -- if they hold a lead, it's 117, a record number of wins. The 1906 Cubs also won 116 (in 10 fewer games).

I've just seen a face: Can't get enough of of Kenta Imamura, the Ichiro impersonator? Well, you're in luck. Apparently Imamurua is a professional Ichiro impersonator and is nicknamed "Nicchiro" -- "ni" is Japanese for two. [Super Ichiro Crazy]

Maybe I'm amazed: A baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio and kissed by Marilyn Monroe sold for $59,750 on Thursday. The bidding started at $17,000 and quickly escalated. [New York Daily News]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:26 pm

Players that could be dealt before August 31

By Evan Brunell

Although the trade deadline expired on Sunday, it... didn't. At least, not really.

What did expire was the non-waiver trade deadline, in which teams can trade players without restrictions that aren't built into a player's contract such as no-trade clauses and the like. However, trades can still occur for the rest of the season -- players just have to pass through waivers. These waivers are revocable, so if a team claims a player, the original team can revoke waivers. However, it then cannot deal the player, and if he goes on waivers a second time and is claimed, he is lost. That team can also choose not to revoke waivers and give away the player and his contract. This is what happened to Alex Rios when he joined Chicago in 2009 when Toronto no longer felt like paying his deal.

The original team and claiming team can also work out a trade, but a trade can only happen with the team that placed a claim. If the player passes through waivers, he can then be traded to any team. Most teams place the majority of players on waivers, both to hide players the team really wants to deal and to broaden options. Waiver claim priority works in order of worst record to best in the same league, then it moves to the worst record in the other league. These types of trades can happen through September, although August 31st is effectively the cutoff point.

While there have been September trades, they are few and far in-between for two reasons. First is that with the expansion to a 40-man rosters, most teams no longer struggle for depth. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that any player outside of the organization acquired after August 31 is not eligible for the playoffs.

Got all that? Good. Let's take a look at nine players or positions of interest who could be on the move in August (and possibly September).

Heath Bell, Padres
: Heath Bell surprisingly stayed at home at the trade deadline while setup man Mike Adams was sent out. This came as a surprise, as everyone assumed that Bell would be dealt. Clearly, the Padres didn't get an offer that was worth giving up the two compensatory draft picks they would have received once Bell rejected arbitration and signed a lucrative contract with another team, or re-upped with San Diego on a hometown-discount deal.

Except Bell said he plans to accept the Padres' offer of arbitration if they can't come to an accord on a contract. That's how motivated Bell is to stay in town, so the Padres can no longer bank on the compensatory draft picks. Unless traded, Bell is staying a Padre. That could motivate GM Jed Hoyer to kick him out in August, although with a $7.5 million contract on the season, Bell figures to be claimed by many teams who could use a top-flight reliever at little cost.

Randy Choate, Marlins: Not exactly a big name, I know, but Choate is the kind of player that gets dealt every August. He's a left-handed reliever who can plug in a gap for a contender. The Yankees, Red Sox and many other teams would be interested in Choate, who is signed for 2012 at just $1.5 million. He's got peanuts left on his $1 million deal this season and has a sterling 1.66 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. That's not much, but Choate's value is tied up in being able to get left-handed hitters out.

As we see every October, that's incredibly valuable, and Choate has held lefties to a .131/.185/.123 mark on the year, which comes out to a .398 OPS. That's really low. Choate has been linked to the Yankees, but he would have no shortage of suitors if the Marlins made him available.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds: There was plenty of consternation as to why the Reds stood pat at the trade deadline, as well as why Hernandez wasn't moved. With top prospect Devin Mesoraco waiting in the wings in Triple-A, one would think that GM Walt Jocketty would want to capitalize on Hernandez's value, especially to the Giants. Alas, nothing transpired, not even once the Giants and Reds completed their game on Sunday, which some felt might be holding up a deal.

Hernandez is still a good bet to go, even if Cincinnati climbs back into the race thanks to the presence of Mesoraco, as well as help at other spots that the backstop would fetch in a deal. If they begin rebuilding, they have even less need for Hernandez. The only problem is that catching depth is so thin in the majors and Hernandez's salary is so cheap that, like Bell, plenty of teams figure to be interested in placing a claim and blocking a deal.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: For some reason, GM Jim Hendry stood pat at the trade deadline and didn't bother to try and convince third-baseman Aramis Ramirez that accepting a deal would be to his benefit. Hendry wants to keep the core of a 90-loss team together for some reason, so even bandying about Ramirez as a possible piece to be moved probably is pointless. But if Hendry has a chance of heart, Ramirez might too.

You see, Ramirez loves Chicago and has his family based there -- except in mid-August, his wife and children pack up and head back to the Dominican Republic. Thus, where he plays to finish off the year becomes less important once his family leaves, which could convince Ramirez to waive his no-trade deal. If that happened, Ramirez could interest the Angels and White Sox, to name two teams. The White Sox would allow the ability to stay in the city, but the roadblock to that is that the Pale Hose are not looking to add payroll.

Athletics outfielder: Oakland really needs to subtract at least one of its outfielders in Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham or David DeJesus, as I mentioned Monday when looking at teams that stood pat at the deadline. Any of these outfielders can help a team, and Willingham and DeJesus may have a pulse in their bat if they can get out of the Coliseum. Free-agent compensation matters here, and Willingham will fetch a price commensurate with two compensatory draft picks, as he's currently set to be a Type-A free agent even if only tenuously. DeJesus is a Type-B free agent and Crisp does not need compensation.

Simply put, Oakland needs to look ahead at 2012 and what it can do to bolster the team. It's one thing if all they're being offered are organizational guys for these players. At that point, GM Billy Beane is probably best suited to just hang onto the players. But Willingham and DeJesus aren't the kind of players that would have scrubs offered. There's real value in these players, and given the unlikelihood of both returning to town, Beane needs to jump on any interest.

Jim Thome, Twins: Here's an interesting name. The Twins, if they fall out of the race, have no need for Thome. In fact, they may be looked upon as doing a favor to Thome in trading him to a contender for a chance to win a World Series in what is likely Thome's final season. Just three home runs away from 600, some have speculated that he will be moved after he reaches the milestone. But given how impressively the Twins draw and the fact Thome doesn't have deep roots with the team makes that hard to believe. He's a candidate to be traded before and after 600 home runs.

The Phillies have been linked to Thome, which would be a fantastic option. Philadelphia is obviously headed toward October, and Thome would be the big bat off the bench that becomes so paramount. Just like left-handed relief specialists, pinch-hitters increase in importance as the amount of games decrease. And if the Phillies somehow make it to the World Series, Thome is a fine DH. Jason Giambi is another player who could fit this mold.

Right-handed hitting platoon outfielder: Might not sound terribly appealing to discuss outfielders that wouldn't start regularly, but as has been mentioned, shoring up depth at the major-league level takes on added importance for the postseason. To be sure, several teams need starting outfielders like any of the A's outfielders or perhaps even the Twins' Jason Kubel, who is also a candidate to be traded in August. But players that can help counteract left-handed pitchers like Choate but don't require a full-time job and don't cost a lot of money are valuable.

Playing time and big bucks aren't necessary for players like Scott Hairston, Jeff Francouer, and Ryan Spilborghs, who can come off the bench and serve as injury replacements, pinch-hitters or platoon outfielders. Hairston and Francouer, especially, have noted success against left-handed pitching and were names to watch at the trade deadline for that very reason. Francouer, in particular, is used to being traded in August, as the Rangers acquired him last season on the 31st to fill the exact role that a team would want him this year for: to hit lefties.

Jeff Francis, Royals: The last two names on this list are both left-handed starters, but that's not why Francis is on the list. No, he's on the list because he's a cheap, back-end option in the rotation. While there might be some better pitchers on the market (see the next name), Francis would work well in the middle of the rotation, perhaps the last starter in a postseason four-man rotation. Injuries will continue to happen between now and the end of the year, and one of those injuries could be a big blow to a contender's rotation -- much like Boston has to deal with the absence of Clay Buchholz.

Francis has soaked up 135 2/3 innings on the year with a 4.38 ERA, which is impressive given he pitches in the AL albeit in a weak division. His peripherals are strong, so that 4.38 ERA isn't a fluke. He can be a real shot in the arm for a contender. While the Royals could really use him in the rotation, which has yet to be anything less than awful, Francis is also a free agent and will certainly parlay his season into a nice contract from a team closer to contending, so K.C. shouldn't be worried about long-term effects of trading Francis, only who they can get in return.

Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: Rodriguez is a step up from Francis, but it's not entirely clear how big of a step up he is. He's working on his fourth straight season of an ERA below 4, but there's serious question among American Leaguers as to whether he could withstand a league switch, which depresses his suitors and the price for the left-hander. His contract is also looking like a pill, as he has $34 million due him from 2011-13 with a club option for 2014 -- but becomes a player option with a trade, and not many teams have interest in Rodriguez choosing to stay with his club for $13 million in a year where he will be 35.

The Astros are willing to eat a good chunk of the contract though, even if they refuse to eat the $17 million that might have made Rodriguez a Yankee before the trade deadline. If the Yankees or another team want Houston to eat that amount of money, it would take a strong prospect surrendered. Rodriguez is a good pitcher, but it seems his stock has dropped just below that tier, so it may be difficult for Houston and other teams to agree to both a return and how much cash the Astros would cover. Still, he's certainly not being claimed on waivers and will be a top-end option for any desperate teams.

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Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 2:04 pm

Saturday afternoon trade rumors

By Matt Snyder

We're approaching the 24-hour mark on the countdown to the MLB's non-waiver trade deadline and things are definitely starting to heat up. We've seen the Phillies make a huge splash by acquiring Hunter Pence, and already Saturday two trades have been agreed upon -- the Tigers getting starting pitcher Doug Fister (Knobler) and the Brewers acquiring Jerry Hairston (Miller). There's bound to be more on what should be a big day in Major League Baseball. Let's dive in to what we've seen thus far -- and remember, everything is fluid right now. Things could change in a literal heartbeat, so make sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest.

Ubaldo Jimenez's name just won't go away, so let's sum up all the rumors here. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports not much has changed, as the Yankees and Red Sox have the best shot, while the Indians and Blue Jays are on the fringe -- also reporting that the Rockies might just keep Jimenez. The Yankees are "all over" him, reports ESPN's Tim Kirkjian. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the price for Jimenez may go down, though Troy Renck of the Denver Post says it won't. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Yankees and Rockies aren't even close to finding "common ground" on Jimenez's value. SI.com's Jon Heyman has the Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees in on Jimenez.

• The Twins are unlikely to trade Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer, reports Miller.

MLB Trade Deadline
• The Rangers are after White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, reports Rosenthal. He added that the White Sox want starter Derek Holland in return, but the Rangers wouldn't do that unless they got a starter like John Danks in return.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports the Red Sox have discussed a deal for Josh Willingham and Rich Harden with the A's.

Jim Bowden of ESPN reports the Red Sox have pulled out in front in the race for Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, though he was emphatic the Cardinals wouldn't trade Colby Rasmus. Rosenthal reports the Red Sox interest picked up after Erik Bedard's bad start Friday night. Olney reports the Yankees and Dodgers haven't discussed Kiroda for a bit.

• The Phillies called the Twins about Jim Thome, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.

• Finally, having lost out on Pence, the Braves are looking for outfield alternatives. Marlon Byrd of the Cubs could be an option, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rosenthal reports the Braves are "almost certain" to land someone before the deadline, naming B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham and Carlos Quentin. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports Bourn is definitely on the Braves' radar. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Braves are heavily in on Quentin. Of course, Nightengale also notes the Red Sox are hot after Quentin. And Fox Sports reports the Indians, Nationals, Braves and Reds are after Bourn.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 3:04 pm

Thome's aim at 600 deserves more attention

By Matt Snyder

A Major League Baseball player is going to achieve something this season that only seven others in the history of the game have. No, we aren't talking about Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. That was a special moment, especially since no Yankees player had achieved the feat in a Yankees uniform and that he hit a home run en route to going 5-5 on that day. But Jeter became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club. Twins designated hitter Jim Thome currently has 596 career home runs. When he hits No. 600, he'll join just seven others in that much more exclusive club: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

Now, here's how special Thome is. He played during the stained "steroid era" with Bonds, Sosa, A-Rod and Griffey. Griffey and Thome have never been accused of using anything by a credible source nor tested positive. Bonds, Sosa and A-Rod have. It should make us appreciate this impending feat that much more.

Career HR Leaders
Player Total
1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez-y 626
7. Sammy Sosa 609
8. Jim Thome-y 596
9. Frank Robinson 586
10. Mark McGwire 583
Instead, the hype doesn't seem to be building nearly as much as it should. Maybe it's because Thome's home runs are pretty spread out now. As he moves into a more limited role, he only has seven this season. Thus, if we hype every single game, we might be waiting through upwards of 100 games in anticipation. That would be exhausting. Maybe the hype gets close to the hype for Jeter once Thome hits No. 599. We'll see, but I suspect it won't get anywhere close.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm part of the media that heavily hyped Jeter's quest for 3,000. If you saw the traffic numbers the Jeter stories drew compared to other stories, you wouldn't blame us. It's New York. It's Derek Jeter. It's a huge milestone. That gets numbers. Plus, I quite admire Jeter. I admire how he's played all these years in the spotlight and drawn nothing but respect from his peers. He's rarely been involved in much controversy, and that's a pretty tough task for 15 years as the face of the sport's most recognizable franchise. So please don't misconstrue this as a complaint against the Jeter coverage. It's far from it. Jeter deserved his coverage.

But take away the New York spotlight element and you could say many of the same things about Thome. In fact, you could say better things. Not only do you never hear an ill word about Thome as a teammate or an opposing player, but he's won the both Roberto Clemente and Marvin Miller Man of the Year awards for his character, sportsmanship and community involvement. He has or will be reportedly putting all 10 of his nieces and nephews through college (Star-Tribune).

On the field, Thome's probably been underrated throughout his career. Despite regressions as he's aged -- he's 40 now -- he still has a career on-base percentage of over .400 (the seventh-highest active mark). His 1,646 RBI place him 28th all time. Why did he only make five All-Star teams and finish in the top 10 of MVP voting four times? Well, because his prime was during the juice era. And as far as all the evidence says, he didn't juice. And there's something to be said for longevity. He hit 25 home runs in just 276 at-bats last season. His prodigious 596th homer shows he still has the power.

Simply put, if you want a true All-Star both off and on the field, you need not look further than Thome. And he's nearing a milestone only a handful of guys have ever done without legitimate accusations of impurity.

Maybe it's because he's playing in a smaller market than New York. Maybe it's because he's bounced around a lot in his career and there isn't one fan base claiming him as their own. Maybe it's because some feel he's just a stat compiler -- which is ridiculous, by the way, since only seven guys have ever compiled this many homers. Or maybe it's just that we're waiting until he gets closer.

Whatever the reason, we need to rectify it. Jim Thome is close to hitting his 600th career home run. He deserves much more of our attention.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 17, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 8:20 pm

Thome 4 homers away from 600

Jim ThomeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Lost amidst Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits is Jim Thome's pursuit of 600 home runs. With a three-run shot of Kansas City's Felipe Paulino in the sixth inning of Sunday's game, Thome hit the 596th home run of his career.

Thome, 40, did it in style, too -- hitting the ball an estimated 490 feet to right-center field, making it the longest homer hit in the short history of Target Field. Last year he hit a 480-foot shot.

The homer also broke a 1-1 tie, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning. Minnesota went on to win 4-3.

Watch Thome's bomb here

Thome is attempting to become just the eighth player in baseball history to reach 600, but the fifth since 2002. The fact that the other names to join the 600 club this decade include Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa has marred the accomplishment -- all three have been tied to performance-enhancing drugs. Ken Griffey Jr. is the only one of the newest members of the 600 club not to be tied to PEDs, although nobody  -- including Griffey and Thome --- are above suspicion just by the virtue of having played during the so-called Steroid Era.

Sunday's home run was the 500th of his career in the American League. Thome hit 96 home runs with the Phillies from 2003-05. He's the 11th player to hit 500 home runs in the American League.

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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