Reading Room: First-guessing the Thome decision

For posterity, here are some instant reactions to the decision to let Thome go to the Minnesota Twins, made by people with no inside knowledge of White Sox operations. It'll be easier to just link to this instead of spending paragraphs to explain the same thing.

If you’re tired of talking about Jim Thome, feel free to ignore this post. But it’s tiring to talk about Thome, too, so consider this an attempt at a timesaver.
For posterity, here are some instant reactions to the decision to let Thome go to the Minnesota Twins, made by people with no inside knowledge of White Sox operations. It’ll be easier to just link to this instead of spending paragraphs to explain the same thing.
Jan. 5: The tao of Teahen (Sox Machine)

Ozzie Guillen may say he welcomes the challenge of a “flexible” lineup, but does anybody seriously think he would reject surefire pieces in order to mix-and-match?  Nobody had fun trying to figure out a back end of the rotation while waiting for Jake Peavy to get healthy last year, and that’s basically what Guillen would have to do with a lineup full of Teahens, Kotsays and Joneses.

Jan. 21: Jim Thome wants a call from the White Sox, but won’t get it (White Sox Examiner)

“There’s really no harm in the White Sox signing Thome. Just because he’s on the roster doesn’t mean he has to play every day—remember, this is a player that approved a trade to a National League team last August for a chance to win a World Series.
Something tells me Thome wouldn’t have a problem taking a seat on those days where Quentin or Konerko need to rest. If done right, Thome could sit against lefties—against whom he only had a borderline poor wOBA in ’09—and Quentin/Konerko could DH those days with Jones filling in as the right fielder or (gulp) first baseman.”

Jan. 22: Committee of Dunces (South Side Sox)

Without question, the best result is from the year the Angels only said they had a DH by committee, giving Vlad the bulk of the work. In ’08 things worked out alright, essentially getting league average DH output, but they weren’t in any hurry to bring back the floundering Anderson. ’07 is just an outright disaster.
Which category do you think a crew which features Omar Vizquel, Mark Kotsay, and the bloated corpse of Andruw Jones getting the lion’s share of the reps will fall into?

Comment in the discussion:

i give less than a [damn] about demand, except for it allowing my team to better itself at an extremely low cost. forgive my lack of passivity, but i like to win and i like to do everything within the realm of possibility to ensure that outcome. i don’t know why you continue to argue against the signing of a DH like thome – what was it about thome’s game you found so terrible last year? – when it’s smack you in the face obvious that the team would be better with him.

Jan. 25: White Sox decide against bringing back Jim Thome (WSE)

When Jones was signed and Kotsay was brought back, I was in favor of both moves because I expected both to fill bench roles. Now that they’re going to be expected to do more than that, I’m much less enthused with the moves.
Especially in the face of a DH who can still hit and was willing to come back.

Jan. 26: When is flexibility constraining? When you’re Ozzie Guillen (SM)

Maybe Williams will figure out how to get that Adrian Gonzalez-grade bat after all in one of his patented months-before-the-deadline trade.  Maybe he’ll let Guillen scramble to find ways to score all year, and then tell him, “Don’t tell me how to build my team again.”  Either way, it doesn’t seem smart, and it’s going to come at a far greater cost.
The best case scenario from here on out is hoping Tyler Flowers posts a 1.000+ OPS at Charlotte, forcing the Sox to give him a shot at DH, where he solves the problem in the second half while priming himself to take over for A.J. Pierzynski.  Anything else is going to cost the Sox money, talent, and time when cheaper options were widely available, all to prove a point that highly paid professionals had no point trying to make.

Jan. 27: Two thoughts about Thome the Twin (SM)

The [Twins] had no need for a left-handed power hitter, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to add a good hitter on the cheap. The [White Sox] did need a left-handed power hitter, but felt that Mark Kotsay, his .700 OPS and his two back surgeries in four years was a better use of $1.5 million.

Jan. 27: Thome makes entire White Sox organization look like fools, signs with Twins for pennies (SSS)

The only way the Williams/Guillen team avoids rabid fans calling for their head  — the ones that aren’t already — is if the pitching staff they’ve built carries them easily to the post-season. Anything less than an easy walk to the playoffs shows that the two were more concerned with building a team their way than exploiting what might be the best free-agent value on the entire market.
It’s a bit scary to think what would happen if the Sox did magically march into the playoffs? Would pitchers be batting next year so Ozzie can go to a 14 man pitching staff with a two-strike specialist? The hubris would be unfathomable.

Comment in the discussion:

i’m probably going to write that, after a month and a half, jim thome has already produced more value to the twins than he will cost them in salary for the entire season.

Aug. 11: Thome twists the knife, but not in Guillen (SM)

Imagine the Sox playing without Paul Konerko for an entire month. That’s what the Twins have been doing, missing 10 percent more OPS, too.
That would probably destroy the Sox, but it hasn’t ruined the Twins. In fact, they’ve gone 19-10 in his absence. Minnesota might be without a MVP left-handed hitter, but they’ve been able to replace him pretty well with a future HOF left-handed hitter.

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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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