I’m sure the acquisition of Jim Thome will be described as a low-risk move several times in the coming days. And, considering Thome will only make a little over a million dollars and he’s universally respected around the league, it is a low-risk move in many ways. You could even make the argument that Thome deserves his final shot here, because his original signing with the team helped drag it up the ladder of respectability. Are you sensing a “but” coming? Here we go…
Thome has played 28 innings in the field since leaving the Phillies. That was about six years ago. Thome even said at one point that he didn’t even own a glove anymore. To bring Thome in to play in the National League severely restricts your team’s versatility. For reference, I think the Phils need more versatility considering their aging roster–not less. I’m sure the Phillies are assuming (hoping) that Thome can still play a little bit of first, but with the equivalent of a game in the field every two years since he left–how would you know? He’s not a double-switch option, he’s a liability on the bases (if he gets on late in a game, it’s a two player move, because you have to run for him). It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a lot of money to pay a guy to come up and swing for the fences 75 times a year.
Then there’s Thome’s connection to Charlie Manuel. Is Manuel the right guy to be in charge at the end of Thome’s career? At some point Thome just isn’t going to be able to play anymore. It could be this coming season. He looked like he was at the end two years back before rebounding a bit this season. With Thome’s history here and his history with Manuel would the Phillies be able to make a tough decision if they need to?
I love Thome’s presence in the clubhouse, I love that he can get on-base, and I think he’s probably still got a puncher’s shot to hit a bomb or two. I just hope he’s got enough left to not leave the Phillies with a 24.5 man roster.