So the Jays have gone ahead and eaten about $9 million by simply releasing Frank Thomas a day after benching him, apparently convinced that his recent 4-35 slump means that he is no longer the same player that he was last year, when he batted .277 and led the entire team with 26 HR and 94 RBI.

frank-thomas-jays.jpgWell either that or they would rather eat $9 million now and get nothing than have to pay $19 million total including Thomas’s $10 million option for next year, which almost certainly would have vested if he had stayed with the Jays this year, since it only required 376 plate appearances to get locked in.

Actually, this decision is almost certainly more due to the latter reason. Which is a shame, because it seems like the Blue Jays are punishing Thomas for their bad decision to sign him to that deal, when he really wasn’t going to be in their plans.

The more one considers J.P. Riccardi’s track record as Blue Jays GM, the more one begins to wonder why he still has a job, as he never really seems to be able to figure out which direction he is headed, and this move is only the latest example.

Because looking at the numbers, Frank Thomas is almost certainly still the player he was last year, when he was a pretty valuable piece of the Blue Jays offense. His line-drive percentage is slightly down, but otherwise all of Thomas’s peripherials are right in line with last year, including his strikeout and walk rates, his pitches seen per plate appearance, his groundball rate, and his HR/flyball rate.

What is different this year is that his BABIP is at an unsustainably low .167. Given that Thomas posted a .377 OBP last season along with decent power, he should still be able to help an AL team in need of a DH, especially since he can probably be gotten for very cheap.

But given his age and the recent slump, and the fact that he can pretty much only DH, it is uncertain whether any other team will have room for him.

It would be really sad to see the future Hall-of-Famer have to go out like this, his great career uncelebrated and our final image of him being his getting rejected by the only team still playing in Canada.

10 Responses to “Big Hurt released by the Blue Jays”

  1. I love Bill P’s counterattack on the traditional baseball statistics. The imaginary convo on the introduction of batting average is great. I think (I could be wrong) that in the early days of baseball statistics, a walk counted as a hit and that a distinction wasn’t made until later. (I’m talking really early days, back when guys like Hick Carpenter had to look at 6 balls to get on base.)

    Regarding The Baseball Boogie:
    – This should be played on the Jumbo-HDTV at Turner field the next time the Dodgers come to town. That would be so freakin sweet.
    – Also, there is no mention of the Dodgers or depiction of the team logo, so I think the Dodgers front office must have (wisely) realized early on this was incredibly stupid.
    – “Come on baby, and boogie with me, we’re gonna dance til a quarter to three.” Was that Pedro Guerrero?

  2. The Call of the GReen Monster bit is priceless

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Danny O, I do believe your knowledge of early days baseball is correct. It’s always fun to imagine what the game must have been like back when balls caught on a hop were outs, you had to score 21 runs to win, and the batter could call for the pitch he wanted. We’ve come a long way, baby.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Sammy, indeed—having just read the bit about Manny, I felt it was one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moments!

  5. Wow….that Baseball Boogie video was by far the cheesiest sports team video I’ve ever seen…they make the ’85 Bears look like The Beatles compared to that wreck.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    You know, the team that immediately leaps to my mind is the Rays. Everyone’s been talking about “Why don’t they sign Barry Bonds?” Well, it appears the Tampa Bay FO doesn’t want to take on the baggage. But Frank Thomas is, of course, a completely different matter—high OBP, still has power, and not even one carry-on sized piece of baggage.

    The question is—why didn’t Riccardi try to trade him, for crying out loud?! Would *no* other team really have taken on that contract? I thought the Jays were saying they were going to contend this year. Apparently they’ve decided to throw in the towel….on April 20.

  7. Nick Kapur says:

    Amazingly, unbelievably, the day after the Jays release Thomas, they start….ROD BARAJAS as their DH!!

    Yes, the same Rod Barajas who has a .239 career batting average and a .697 career OPS!

    What the heck is going on here? I mean, the Jays claimed they had to release Thomas to improve the team, but in which universe is Rod freaking Barajas a better option at DH than Frank Thomas?

  8. First of all, Sarah, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Thomas doesn’t come with baggage. When he left the White Sox, there was quite a bit of animosity on both sides.

    Second, in addition to the Rays, I’ve heard the A’s, O’s and Mariners mentioned as possible landing spots. I think the Mariners make the most sense. Jose Vidro is simply not an acceptable DH.

  9. Nick Kapur says:

    Actually, what makes the most sense for the Mariners would be to sign Barry Bonds. He’s easily worth about 5 or 6 wins against Vidro, and could elevate them to the playoffs.

    And what would make the second most sense would be to sign anyone, really just about anyone, to replace Vidro. But since the Mariners seem hell-bent on sticking with Vidro and his .600 OPS just because he batted .300 last year, I doubt they will even consider Thomas. They think they’ve got an awesome DH.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    That’s a good point, Coley. But it’s still so much smaller than the baggage of a lot of other aging sluggers! If Barry Bonds has ginormous rolling-suitcase baggage, Frank’s baggage is like the size of my purse.

    He’s a blue, tumbled leather Coach handbag, Tampa Bay! Go get him!

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