Monday, March 4, 2013

Making a Thome Plan

Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of the return of Jim Thome to the Minnesota Twins. There are plenty of different things floating out there so let's try and organize some of these thoughts. Here is some of the information that is known to the public.

Thome, the 42-year old slugger, is still unemployed and he wants to find a team to play for in 2013. Over the past couple seasons, Thome has been looking to play for a contender so he could make a run for his elusive World Series ring. Since he is still unemployed, he probably can't be too picky at this point about what team he ends up playing for.

Ron Gardenhire has said in interviews that he wants some pop on his bench this year. This might be especially true with the group of middle infielders he has fighting for starting roles. It would be nice to have a power bat on the bench to pinch hit for the Pedro Florimons and Eduardo Escobars of the world.

When it comes to Thome, his last good season came in a Twins uniform so it seems like there could be some interest between the two parties. He has had positive things to say about Gardenhire and the Twins organization. This could set-up a reunion tour for Thome and the Twins.

Last season, Thome was limited to 186 at-bats in only 58 games. It was the first time since 2005 that he didn't play in over 92 games. He started last year in the National League so it was tough for him to play in the field after regularly serving as a DH for six seasons.

Even though Gardenhire wants Thome in a Twins uniform, there might be some push back from the front office. The Twins already have plenty of players to fit into the DH role with the club. Ryan Doumit, Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau will see time at DH. This might not leave a lot of playing time for Thome.

If the Twins were going to sign Thome, there would need to be a plan in place. He has shown in the past that he can't be successful if he isn't getting regular at-bats. It also has been difficult if he is only getting pinch-hit appearances. The Twins would need to balance his playing time with his aging body for him to find success.

Thome would need to serve as the DH for a couple different games a week. This could give him the repetitions he needs while still allowing for the other players to get their regular playing time. On the days that he is not serving as DH, he would make a good late inning option for Minnesota's light hitting middle infield core.

The Twins could end up with a nice trade chip at the deadline if there was a team looking for a left-handed power bat. In recent years, Thome hasn't drawn huge interest at the deadline but this could always change. If he rekindles some of his past success, there might be a few interested teams.

There are some other things working against Thome. Mauer and Morneau appear to be health and they are ready for an increased workload in 2013. Willingham had one of the healthiest and most productive seasons of his career last year. If Mauer, Morneau, and Willingham are all playing regularly in the field, this leaves Doumit still needing a spot for some playing time.

After all things are considered, there might not be a plan that would work for Thome to fit back in with the Twins. The team has a lot of left-handed bats that need to fit into the line-up and this might not leave enough playing time for Mr. Thome.

It would be great to see the future Hall of Famer back in a Twins uniform but fans might just have to live with the memories he provided in his first couple of seasons with the club.

Is there a plan that would work to get Thome the at-bats that he needs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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