Thome's twilight gleaming

It’s too early to talk about whether this will be Jim Thome’s final season on the South Side. It isn’t too early to say that, if it’s indeed his swan song, the Gentleman Masher is doing a splendid job of re-writing his reputation.
Before his fateful tater off Nick Blackburn in Game 163, Thome, to many, embodied Everything That’s Wrong With The White Sox. He was an old, slow low-average hitter with nice numbers that never seemed to count. Said critics often held Thome’s walks against him because he runs the bases like a 4-year-old with a pituitary condition.
He can’t get much smaller. Or faster. Or younger (but what if he did!).  However, he has made improvement to the one thing in his power, and now it’s awfully hard to rip his sense of the moment.
Thome’s three-run opposite-field blast off Darren Oliver in Wednesday’s 6-2 victory over the Angels adds to his collection of game-changing hits this season — especially when factoring in his game-tying homer in his previous at-bat.
You may remember it started in the eighth inning on Opening Day off Kyle Farnsworth, when Thome bellowed, “THIS STORY ONLY ENDS ONE WAY,” and hamfisted a fastball just left of center to turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.
Since then, a sampling:
April 12: Breaks a 1-1 tie with a two-run shot off Blackburn in the sixth inning. The Sox win 6-1.
May 18: Down 2-0 in the eighth inning in Toronto, Thome ties it with a two-out homer off Jesse Carlson. Unfortunately, since it’s Toronto, the Sox still lose, 3-2.
June 1: Thome unties a 2-2 game in the eighth with a three-run homer off Santiago Casilla. Sox win 6-2.
June 10: Thome crushes a solo shot off Justin Verlander for the game’s first run in the seventh inning. Sox end up losing 2-1.
July 17: Thome doubles up the clutch, hitting a three-run homer with the score tied at 3 in the fifth inning. When the Orioles rally back to close it to 6-5, Thome responds with a grand slam. Sox win 12-8.
That doesn’t count a handful other games where he narrowed deficits or provided some much needed breathing room.
A couple of numbers further explain why Thome has made more of an ostentatious difference:

  • High-leverage: .302/.456/.755 with seven homers in 68 PA.
  • 2 outs, RISP: .303/.465/667 in 43 PA.

It’s not like Thome needed to prove his value, because it’s not his fault that three-true-outcomes baseball just isn’t all that much fun to watch. Still, it’s a pleasant turn of events to change the perception of a guy whose style took too long to be embraced by a significant chunk of the White Sox fan base.
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Gavin Floyd has similarly reinvented himself into the most consistent pitcher on a pretty good staff. That’s something Phillies officials probably never saw coming when they traded him to the White Sox three-plus years ago.
To be fair, I don’t think many people on the Sox’s side counted on Floyd taking to The Cell — especially for a guy with the reputation of a flyballer. After his strong eight innings against Los Angeles:

Place W-L ERA IP H HR BB K
Home 15-5 3.12 187.1 146 23 60 162
Road 11-9 4.77 164 173 20 58 105

It appeared that his performance at home could be fluky, considering he held hitters to a .209 average last season. That’s, like, Pedro-Martinez-In-His-Peak good. After watching him slash the tires of the league’s second-best offense, making him 5-0 with a 1.69 in his last eight starts at U.S. Cellular Field… well, maybe he just likes to sleep in his own bed.
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Minor league roundup:

  • Mobile 9, Birmingham 5
    • John Shelby went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI. He also added an outfield assist.
    • C.J. Retherford doubled twice, walked and drove in two runs.
    • Christian Marrero went 2-for-5 with a double.
    • Dayan Viciedo went 1-for-5 with an RBI; Jordan Danks had the night off.
  • Kannapolis 5, West Virginia 3
    • Kenneth Williams Jr. went 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.
    • Jared Mitchell walked once in four plate appearances, and stole his second base.
    • Daniel Black went 1-for-4, Josh Phegley 1-for-3.
    • Australian James Albury allowed three runs on nine hits (two homers) over seven innings, walking one and striking out six.
    • Drew O’Neil and Dan Remenowsky each pitched one perfect inning, striking out one.
  • Billings 6, Great Falls 3
    • Nicholis Ciolli, Ryan Hamme and Jordan Cheatham each had two hits.
    • Joucer Martinez could record only two outs, allowing three hits and hitting a batter. All runs came around to score.
    • Gregory Johnson pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out three while allowing just one hit.
  • Charlotte OFF
  • Winston-Salem vs. Wilmington PPD
  • Bristol vs. Kingsport PPD

Note: Word on the street is that Dan Hudson was promoted to Charlotte, taking the place of Brian Omogrosso, who is out for the season with a torn labrum.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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striker

I bet most major league pitchers have better numbers at home than on the road. That’s why I’m not concerned how everyone talking about how Peavy was better in SD than on the road. I’m sure Peavy will pitch better in his new home than on the road too.

knoxfire30

Thome is going to present an interesting off season decesion. I think bringing Peavy aboard actually increases his chances for being back as the sox have yet again extended their window of opportunity to contend.
Sox have to be tough they hold all the cards, Thome has said he only will play in chicago or cleveland. He has also said he wants a title. Well he cant play first so cancel the cubs out and the indians look like a 70 win team next year so cancel them out. That leaves his only option as the whitesox. Thus the sox need to go to him with a semi low ball but realistic offer that helps everyone. Something like 1 year 3 mil base pay, then a mil bonus for reaching 90 games played, 110 games played and a 130 games played. That gives the sox an out if things go bad and it allows thome to have a 1 year 6 mil deal if he stays healthy which is pretty fair market.

striker

What do you do with Dye then? He has easily outproduced Thome over the past three years, he hits lefties and righties and he can play the field.

striker

I double checked the last 3 year stats and I was wrong. Dye does hit lefties better but other than that they are pretty close in production and Dye has played 25 more games.
So I guess the argument would be: Dye hits for better average, is healthier and can play the field.

RWShow

It’s pretty apparent to me that they can’t keep both. I have felt all along that Dye is close to a lock to return and become the most-of-the-time DH and occasional OF or 1B. If Dye’s mutual $12m option is picked up, I cannot foresee Thome being brought back.

knoxfire30

If the sox have proven two things to me during the Kenny Williams era its that 1 they dont ever want to rebuild and they dont care about defense as long as you can produce a good amount of offense.
I like both strategies and thats why I think they squeek by one more year with a horrible defensive outfield.
Also, I love Dye but todays market means 12 mil is way over prided, they need to forget the mutual option and think of something else.

footsoldiersgalore

Nice recap of some Thome’s most important shots this year. I’ll always remember the Opening Day dinger. If we don’t retain him, we’re going to need to find a left hand power stick to replace him.