Trading Jim Thome to the Orioles for mid-level prospects is not a start of a fire sale for the Phillies. It was about getting rid of a player that was not a fit for the team anymore.
When the Phillies trade Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino, it would be appropriate to mention fire sale. They haven’t reached that point even though the team is giving Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. a reason to start dumping them after completing June with a 9-19 record.
Thome had to go since he needed to play everyday for him to be an effective hitter. Being a bench player was not for him, and it was clear when he went 1-for-16 with 11 strikeouts. For him, he needed many at-bats to be familiar with a pitcher. He admitted that after he received the news he was traded.
There’s no question the veteran slugger did the best he could as a pinch-hitter. He wanted to make it work for the Phillies with the idea he could excel as a pinch-hitter. He wanted to start at first with Ryan Howard being on the disabled list, but his back could not hold up playing at first.
It’s too bad for Thome and the Phillies that being a pinch-hitter couldn’t work out. That happens. There’s no need to blame either of them. This signing should not be second-guessed, either. The thought was he could do okay coming off the bench being that he can hit well in a big spot, and everyone was fine with that.
The Phillies did Thome a favor. They could have made him stick it out as a bench player and let this failed experiment drag on. They could have kept him and let him play for a team that does not have a realistic shot of winning a championship. It was going to be tough to watch.
In a perfect world, Thome would be playing for the Rangers as a designated hitter twice a week and as a pinch-hitter the rest of the week. This would give him a chance to win a championship that he has been seeking to finish out his career. He may have been there if the Orioles did not get him first.
Going to Baltimore is not a bad thing for him. For one thing, he gets to play for a team that has a good chance of making the playoffs as a wild-card team. Second of all, he will be an everyday player as a designated hitter. Considering he is not a fit for many AL teams, he should be fortunate some team picked him up.
Thome can still play. He will play in a park that is conducive for him to hit home runs at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In the nine interleague games he played this season, he hit .333 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
Thome certainly made an impression to the Orioles few weeks ago when he had six hits and two RBIs against them in a three-game series. That certainly planted a seed for Orioles manager Buck Showalter to get that veteran.
Thome will have the opportunity to be in a position to succeed by getting as many at-bats he can for him to be an impact player.
Here’s hoping he plays well and leads the Orioles to a championship. He is a player that folks should be rooting for. He conducts himself with class by being great with the fans and helping young players on the team. He puts in the time into his craft. He continues to be persistent in being a good player despite his age being a deterrent. He’s a winner.
This baseball observer was ecstatic that Thome was traded. He will get to play in meaningful games, and he can be a difference maker. That was never going to be the case in Philadelphia.
Odds are Thome will retire at the end of the season. It’s hard to think he will keep playing. This season has been a grind for him already, and he wants to spend time with his kids at an age where they start growing up as teenagers.
For him to finish out his career in Philadelphia with nothing to play for, it would be a cruel way to end a Hall of Fame career.