Two thoughts about Thome the Twin

No. 1: Here’s a list of various contracts the Sox have eaten, at least in part the past five years.

  • 2005: Ben Davis, $1M (all)
  • 2006: Chris Widger $650,000 (half)
  • 2008: Pablo Ozuna: $1.05M (half)
  • 2009: Mike MacDougal: $2.65M (almost all)
  • 2009: Wilson Betemit: $1.3M (most)
  • 2009: Jim Thome; ~$1.5M (total sent to Dodgers)
  • 2009: Jose Contreras: Cash considerations (close to Thome, probably)

The Sox spent $5 million on players who didn’t play in Chicago last year. Thought that was interesting.
No. 2: Compare the attitudes!
Chicago:

When Thome didn’t play for two or three days, Guillen didn’t want the media to go to Thome about the situation. And Guillen didn’t want to have to answer the same questions, as to why he was halting Thome’s pursuit of 600 home runs.
“For me, it’s all about at-bats,” Guillen said. “I don’t believe Jimmy can play once or twice per week.

Minnesota:

“We play ’em all and everybody is going to get at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “A guy like Jim, he’s not going to just come off the bench. He’s going to get his time playing and mix in at DH. … That’s the way you keep the guys going and keep everybody a part of it. We’ll get plenty of at-bats for him.”

The latter team 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 former team 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.

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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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blah

I just don’t understand how the White Sox can afford to make this colossally stupid and egotistical move when they complained about ticket sales last year. The sky isn’t falling, but the Sox only had 3 players with
IMO this move isn’t so much about not bringing Thome back as it is about not bringing any competent hitter/obp guy in to take up the slack of the Designated Hitter position. Offensively the Sox struggled to score runs all season because they didn’t have enough players that got on base.
The way the roster is set up now, yes there is more speed and yes it is more athletic, but I don’t care how fast Jones, Nix, Kotsay or Vizquel is, you can’t steal first.
Basically come June or July, the White Sox will pay more for that competent hitter (that they need) that could’ve been brought in now for cheap. That is what is frustrating for me as the Sox farm system is pretty thin to begin with.

paul

Man, that so really pisses me off. There’ve been so many rants on this topic already, here, on South Side Sox, and other places. But in it’s simplest form, who would you rather have for 1.5 mil, Kotsay or Thome?
I can understand Thome’s a “base clogger” and can’t play the field, but we have so many versatile players, have an obvious lack of left-handed power, and a DH by committee that will, in all reality, need a LOT of things to happen to even sniff at 800 OPS. Thome pretty much guarantees an 850-900 OPS, at least vs. righties.
Seriously, I haven’t ever ranted like this…
And I just can’t stop! Part of the problem is Ozzie’s “we don’t have the at-bats”. You sign Thome expecting to give him the at-bats, but you also see how things shake out in Spring Training. Sure, there’s a small chance Andruw Jones could hit like he did 4+ years ago, in which case you may want to DH Quentin and let Andruw play the field. IT’S A GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE. Fact is, statistically, Thome almost certainly would have deserved most of the at-bats against righties.
I can only hope that perhaps there’s a bit of a smoke screen here. Maybe Ozzie intends to play Quentin a lot at DH and wants to give Konerko more at bats there. In such a scenario, Jones, if he is actually in good shape, could provide pretty + defense in the outfield. If Jones is a failure, we might even see De Aza in Center, Rios in Right, and Quentin at DH…I digress and need some sleep.
/End Rant

blah

Because I am very angry at the Thome decision and because I have no desire to comment on it anymore and because I hate the term “base clogger” I feel the need to go Ken Tremendous here. It’s not directed at you personally, or anyone else for that matter. I’m sure you are all good people so, again, don’t take this to heart.
First of all, “base clogger” is something that was made up on ESPN to talk about the slower power hitters who, as hitting is their vocation, tend to walk a lot because pitchers don’t want to throw to them. Believe it or not, being on base is one of the key functions to scoring runs in the game of baseball. So this idea that a player who gets on base = negative results is a evil fabrication started by a certain former Mets GM who was (and is) a complete fucking moron at both the position he held in New York and Bristol.
In order to further examine my argument that “base clogger” is a term that really makes no sense and to avoid further use of ad hominem argument, it is time to evaluate the term itself.
“Base” equates a station on the baseball diamond, three quarters of which are numbered on through three and the last base is often referred to as home.
“Clogger”, in this particular context it is referring to the tendency of a player to remain stationary on said base, presumably for a long period of time.
The subsequent negative stain attributed to this turn comes from the assumption that by being present on a base, a player some how adversely effects (or affects) the ability of his team to score runs, which by extension aids the opposing team.
Now in order to score a run in a baseball game, a player must first reach base (through a variety of ways) then the player must wait on base until a teammate proceeds to “bat in” him, starting the whole cycle over again. When a player fails to bat in a teammate the term “Stranded Runners” gets thrown out.
Therefore, any player who reaches base is an asset and given that Thome lead the White Sox last year in that category was more that enough to bring him back. Considering how this team is constructed so far no one is gonna have to worry about stranding runners there’s not gonna be too many

soxfan1

Anybody think that big Jim will hit a homer to beat the Sox sometime this year?? What will Ozzie say about his at-bats then??

knoxfire30

If the twins face a right hand pitcher and bench young in favor for kubel in left and thome at dh they are better prepared to win games at us cellular then the whitesox, GOOD GOD

Shinons

/shoots self

striker

Good pitching trumps good hitting so I’ll take my chances against the Twins with our pitching staff.
I could care less about Thome. I’ll wait until a game is actually played until I start my complaining. Until then, I’ll give Kenny and Ozzie the benefit of the doubt.
@paul
If you sign Thome instead of Kotsay than who is your backup 1B?

K8T

I second your idea striker

blah

Omar Vizquel.

blah

Or Jason Nix

blah

Sorry Jayson Nix

striker

True and True.
They obviously have a woody for Jones and they are putting all their chips on the table for him.

newcomer

Teahen, with Vizquel or Nix at 3B. I’d prefer having Thome, but I agree with the pitching. Maybe they have reason to believe this is the year Thome falls off a cliff. But there were so many DH options out there that I can’t help but feel disappointed with Jones/Kotsay. Yes, there’s a slim chance Jones will have a great year. But we’re counting on rebounds from Jones, Quentin, and Rios, plus Pierre being good enough to lead off…

newcomer

Somehow didn’t see Jim’s reply, sorry..

paul

I’m on mobile all day, so I apologize for not using the reply option, as there isn’t one.
@blah
I disagree, in part. I equate the term “base clogger” to players that are very poor runners, great double play candidates, are essentially station to station players, and have a hard time scoring from second. There are stats that rate base running effectiveness, although I’m not too familiar with them…yet. I don’t think there’s any qustion that Thome is one of the slowest players in the league, and thus consider him a base clogger. Comparatively speaking, “base cloggers” will cost you some runs compared to a league average runner, and can be viewed negatively in that respect, but this negativeness can be offset by things like OBP and slugging, ala Thome. However, I would much rather have base cloggers on bases than no one at all, and anyone that thinks otherwise needs to have their head examined (I don’t think any of us would disagree with this).
, as had been mentioned, I’m not too concerned about having a seasoned backup first baseman. Barring injury, Konerko will start a significant portion of the games. Someone else on the team can probably play a passable first. I think Vizquel is UZR at every other infield position, do I think he’d be able to handle first adequately. Nix would be another option…

sophist

Teahen is the likely back-up candidate at first. Nix could probably handle it, too.

paul

Edit: I meant I think Vizquel is plus UZR at every other infield position, so he can probably play a passable 1b every once and a while.

striker

@paul
You bring up a good point about being slow on the bases. I wonder if there is a baserunning stat that shows how often a runner scores from 2nd on a single or scores from first on a double. This has nothing to do with the argument to sign Thome, just a curiousity thing.

marshlands

“I wonder if there is a baserunning stat that shows how often a runner scores from 2nd on a single or scores from first on a double.”
//
Baseball Prospectus has a pretty intense, and complicated, analysis of base running.
EqBRR is calculated as the sum of various baserunning components:
Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs (EqGAR)
Equivalent Stolen Base Runs (EqSBR)
Equivalent Air Advancement Runs (EqAAR)
Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs (EqHAR)
Equivalent Other Advancement Runs (EqOAR)
For a breakdown of how these work:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?context=2&category=true

Shinons

Ozzie’s also obsessive over his righty/lefty lineups – so he’s going to either be trotting out righties in the 2,3,4 slots or we’re seeing Kotsay, AJ, or Teahen in one of those spots.
/shoots self again

grinderintraining

If that’s the case, you’d think having a platoon of a great left handed bat and.. well Andruw Jones, I won’t call him a good right handed bat, would be ideal.
And Teahen is the backup 1B, Nix could play it, Vizquel could play it if need be and I imagine Jones, Rios or even Castro could play it in a pinch too if they just needed someone for a few innings due to injury or something. 1B is not a hard position to find a backup.

sophist

well put. That “base clogger” thing bothers me a bit, too, however . . . I think it might have some resonance in context. If OBP is key factor, and we look at Thome’s OBP being so high, a lot of that is from him walking. And, though it’s important to get baserunners to score runs, Thome on base is not going to get you those runs quite as often as even an average runner (I mean, that’s why you run for him in key situations, right?). So that high OBP/high OPS is a little less sweet in context. Plus, @Paul says he’s “guaranteed” about an .850 OPS. Uh-uh. Thome’s gettin’ older, needs about 5 hours before every game to stretch his back just to play DH. His bat speed is getting slower. He strikes out a lot, which is going to hurt RBI opportunities (and that for a guy in the middle of the line-up). I don’t think you can presume Thome’s numbers will stay consistent next year, and I don’t think you can assume 600 plate appearances, even if he’s your only DH.

sophist

sorry . . . “well put” was supposed to be a response to “blah”

marshlands

@paul
You’re right, at least that Thome is one of the league’s poorest base runners. BP uses EqBRR (Equivalent Base Running Runs) to measure effectiveness on the basepaths, which calculates the sum of a variety of components to determine how many runs (above league average) a player contributes on advancements, steals, etc.
Thome’s BqBRR the previous four seasons:
2009: -5.4
2008: -0.8
2007: -2.8
2006: -1.6
From this, we can gather that Thome is about 2-4 runs worse than a league average runner on the base paths.
2-4 runs. That’s it. While a pathetic number (especially the -5.4 last year, which is a cause for concern), it is a number he most certainly makes up for with his bat and plate discipline. From where I’m sitting, his skills at the plate and contribution to RUN SCORING (i.e. how to win games) FAR outweighs his lack of skills on the base paths, which despite being worse than average, aren’t hurting a team like people think.
And just for fun, we can look at Kotsay’s baserunning EqBRR for the past 4 seasons:
2009: -1.6 (in limited time!)
2008: -0.5
2007: -0.6
2006: -4.8
Oh, and let’s do Vizquel too:
2009: -2.4
2008: -0.1
2007: 0.9
2006: -1.1
And Andruw Jones!:
2009: -1.7
2008: 0.2
2007: -2.4
2006: 1.7
So there you go. Jim Thome: bad base runner. Also bad at base running: the White Sox current DH platoon. And I don’t think I need to throw up some numbers to prove that Thome is a much better hitter (in all aspects) than Kotsay/Jones/Vizquel, so yeah.

blah

Add that in with the fact that there will be a lineup of guys running into outs next year, I’d nearly prefer the slow old fuck “clogging” the basepaths.

marshlands


Good call!! I forgot BJ has baserunning analysis these days. And looks like, for the most part, BP and BJ are finding the same things to be true.
When looking at the numbers, it doesn’t seem TOO bad. I mean, Thome could have been doubled up a theoretical 88 times last year, and was only involved in 8 doubleplays! Also, having advanced from 1st to home a total of 0 times is funny. Come on guys!

knoxfire30

Fire up your blood, sox farm ranks 30th according to keith law. Nothing to get to upset about as it really doesnt matter and never seems to prevent the sox from making moves.

knoxfire30

Who would like a big hard throwing righty that shot threw the system and handled mlb hitters in a small sample size, or a huge catcher that can mash? ha
I’ll stack Hudson, Flowers, Danks, Mitchell, Viciedo up against a lot of teams top 5 prospects in the mlb and be just fine with the results.
These lists are always pretty bias, and they ALWAYS put too much into hype and depth. Hype being created from well basically nothing but the media (especially for boston and ny prospects) and depth being pointless since all anyone should care about is top tier propsects.
I would rather have 2 stud prospects and a bunch of crap then 10 good prospects who are guys that likely pan out to 5th starters, middle releivers, below average position players and 4th outfielder/ utility infielder types.

grinderintraining

Agreed about depth, who cares how many utility players you have coming up the system?
The only thing that should matter is the elite talent, anything marginal can be easily replaced by a free agent or minor trade. If you aren’t going to be an every day starter (or key member of a pitching staff), it’s really not relevant to the conversation of who has the best system. You can find bench guys or back end bullpen help anywhere.

paul


I qualified the 850-900 OPS from Thome by stating that would be against right handed pitchers. His low OPS vs righies over the last 4 years was 868 in 2008. It is significantly more likely that Thome will have an OPS over 850 vs righties then the 3 headed DH will avg an 800 OPS overall.
Its even fairly likely Thome’s OPS vs righties will be 100 pts higher then Kotsay’s. Both are old, have back issues, and could hit the DL, but there is no question who is the better hitter. IMO, Thome is clearly the better value for the $$$ and most people and statistics will agree/support that.
@marshlands
thx for the BP info. I’m going to have to
look at the stat a bit more. The negative impact in base running, in relative or absolute terms, is significantly outweighed by the hitting production in Thome’s case.

sophist

@paul . . . I agree that Kotsay is no answer here. I can go either way on thome. $1.5 million may be a bargain for him, but the main difference between his stats over the last 3 years and this year is that he’s never been older. I’d prefer to see Quentin as full-time DH, with a move for someone who can play right.

Buehrlesque

How much further will Damon’s price drop? The Yankees are out. The Braves are out. The Tigers are out. It looks like the Rays and the A’s, for $5 million or less. If he slips below $5 million, KW has to look at it, no matter how much he hates Boras.

Buehrlesque

True, but a Pierre-Damon 1-2 wouldn’t be too bad. (A Damon-Beckham 1-2 wouldn’t be bad either, with Pierre hitting 9th, but Ozzie would never do that.)
Plus trading for Pierre gives the Sox potential leverage in Damon negotiations. If they still had their gaping black hole at “leadoff position”, Boras would break out that shit-eating grin.

tjrako

While I like “Gentleman Masher” as much as anyone.
This is another case of Ozzie\White Sox letting go of someone
who could help the team in the clubhouse more than on the field. “Gentleman Masher” pros left handed bat, home run power, “pro’s pro” Cons limited to “DH” and a “station to station” runner.
This also reminds me some what of what the White Sox did to Frank Thomas in making him a full time “DH” being overseas at the time I did not see him play except on TV but the stats showed he was a better player when playing 1B than “DH”
I always feel a player would rather be on the field for a game than “DH” and be more into the game.
It would not surprise me that Minn will play Jim at 1B
once during a series probably at Minn just to show that he more than a “DH”

blah

Why do you have DH in quotes?

ricksch

I always thought Damon was a better fit than Thome but was willing to settle for Big Jim because the Sox at least seem convincing about not wanting to spend more money.
Still, Damon would bring some pop, a winning attitude and he sure as hell wouldn’t be a base clogger. If they can get this guy for $3-4 plus maybe 1-2 more in incentives, they would be damned FOOLS to pass Damon up.