Tag:Jim Thome
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 1:21 pm

Indians awarded claim on Thome, hopeful of deal

The Indians are hopeful of working out a deal to bring Jim Thome back to Cleveland.

Thome, who began his career with the Indians but left as a free agent after the 2002 season, was placed on trade waivers by the Twins this week. The Indians were awarded the claim on Wednesday, sources said, and the two teams have until 1 p.m. ET on Friday to work out a deal.

The Indians wouldn't give up much in return for Thome, who is 40 years old and is hitting .248 with 12 home runs in 238 at-bats. Thome recently hit his 600th career home run.

Thome would fit with the Indians, with designated hitter Travis Hafner hurt and possibly out for the season.

Thome would be able to block a trade, but given his strong feelings for Cleveland, it's hard to believe that he would.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:46 pm

3 to Watch: The Thome in Cleveland edition

CLEVELAND -- Jim Thome was playing third base for the Indians the day he hit his first big-league home run.

On the same day Lonnie Chisenhall turned three years old.

Thome left the Indians to sign with the Phillies after the 2002 season.

On the same day the Indians traded for Travis Hafner.

Thome comes back to Cleveland this weekend with 598 home runs, and wouldn't it be great if he gets to 600 during this three-game series at Progressive Field?

He hit his first 334 home runs as an Indian, and his 186 home runs at Progressive Field are still far more than he has hit at any other ballpark (U.S. Cellular is second on his list, with 98).

And that's even though Thome played his first 70 home games at old Cleveland Stadium.

There's no one left on the Indians roster who was a Thome teammate in Cleveland. Chisenhall, now 22, is the Indians third baseman now.

But you know that Cleveland still means more to Thome than anywhere else he has played.

He's hit well on previous returns, going 35-for-114 (.307) in 34 games, with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. He's had three multi-homer games in Cleveland as a visitor.

He needs two in the next three games to get to 600 here, perhaps not likely but certainly not impossible.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Thome has never homered in 16 at-bats against Justin Masterson, the Cleveland starter in Twins at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field. The Indians rearranged their rotation after Masterson went just two innings before a long rain delay knocked him out of his Tuesday night start against the Tigers. Why? That's simple. Masterson has been their best starter this year. "Masterson has been a No. 1 for us," manager Manny Acta said.

2. You never know what C.J. Wilson might say, but did you really expect him to go into his start at Oakland by saying, "I hate pitching there" and that "The players on [the A's] team hate me"? Maybe he'll like the Coliseum more and the A's players will hate him more if he wins in Rangers at A's, Friday night (10:07 ET) at the Coliseum.

3. The Brewers went into the season knowing they had little rotation depth in the minor leagues, but they survived Zack Greinke's injury because Marco Estrada was decent in his place, pitching well enough for the Brewers to win two of his four starts. Estrada last started on May 4, and the Brewers have used just their regular five starters since then. But Chris Narveson's freak injury -- he sliced open his thumb while trying to fix his glove -- has forced Estrada back into the rotation for Pirates at Brewers, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Miller Park. This is one of the Pirates games that Fox picked up for its Saturday game of the week, before the Pirates went into their skid.

Posted on: June 2, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 10:52 pm

Thome, Kubel join crowded Twins DL

The Twins said Wednesday they'd be putting one player on the disabled list on Thursday.

Jim Thome or Jason Kubel, they said.

Thursday, the Twins made their announcement. Thome is on the DL. Kubel is, too.

It's been that kind of year in Minnesota.

As Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse pointed out, there have already been 15 players who have seen time with both the Twins and the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. It's still 15, because Ben Revere and Luke Hughes (called up to replace Thome and Kubel) were with the Twins earlier this season, but would go to 16 if the Twins call up Brian Dinkelman (as has been reported) on Friday.

Kubel has a strained left foot. Thome, who is seven home runs shy of 500 for his career, has a strained left quadriceps.

The Twins are 20 games under .500 (17-37), for the first time since the end of the 2000 season. The last time they were this bad this early in a season was 1995, when they started 17-37, on the way to 88 losses and last place.

Now, the Twins are without their opening day catcher (Joe Mauer), second baseman (Tsuyoshi Nishioka) and designated hitter (Kubel), as well as their closer (Joe Nathan), their second starter (Francisco Liriano), their biggest bat off the bench (Thome) and another reliever/spot starter (Kevin Slowey). Mauer and Nishioka played in an extended spring training game Thursday.

Opening day left fielder Delmon Young also spent time on the disabled list, and while first baseman Justin Morneau, he has been slowed by health problems.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 4, 2011 11:50 am

Twins put 2 more on DL

As fast as the Twins are losing position players, they may need more no-hitters.

Outfielder Jason Repko is the latest to hit the disabled list, with a right quad strain. That move came just 11 hours after the Twins put Jim Thome on the DL with an oblique injury.

They join starting catcher Joe Mauer, starting left fielder Delmon Young, starting second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka and reliever Kevin Slowey on the DL.

To replace Repko, the Twins called up Ben Revere, their 2007 first-round draft pick. Revere hit just .179 in his 30-game big-league debut last year. He was hitting .293 in 23 games at Triple-A Rochester.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 14, 2011 3:04 pm

If 600 still has magic, Thome will tell us

Is there any magic left in 600?

Jim Thome will tell us. Or maybe I should say, the buzz around Jim Thome will tell us.

After all, we like Jim Thome. I hate to speak for you, but on this point I think I can. I think we all like Jim Thome.

But do we care about Jim Thome getting to 600 home runs? And when he does get there, will we say that it means Thome is one of the great home run hitters we've ever seen?

He's on 589 home runs right now, and now that he has signed a one-year contract to stay in Minnesota, we know that he'll chase 600 as a member of the Twins.

That's a positive, because even though Thome has only played with the Twins for one season, he's already immensely popular there. Not Joe Mauer popular, obviously, but popular.

He's popular all over the American League Central, I think, even in the cities (Detroit, Kansas City) where all he has done is destroy the home team's pitching for the last 20 years.

(I heard Friday from a guy who used to work for the Royals, who simply said, "It feels like I saw all 47 of those [Thome home runs] that came vs. KC.")

Anyway, Thome is not Alex Rodriguez, the polarizing figure who reached 600 after a chase that most of the country tried to ignore last season. Thome is not Ken Griffey Jr., whose run for 600 in 2008 sometimes got overshadowed in his hometown by Jay Bruce's arrival with the Reds.

Thome is entirely likeable, by teammates, fans and writers alike.

A whole bunch of people will be happy for him when he gets to 600. But will it feel magic?

I'm not so sure it will.

This just isn't the same as when 600 belonged only to Aaron, Ruth and Mays. Thome has been a fine player, but he's not Aaron and he's not Ruth and he's not Mays -- and I imagine he would happily admit that.

That's not to say 600 is now meaningless, not at all. It's a great accomplishment, and even after the steroid era, it's not a common accomplishment.

Even now, only seven hitters finished with 600 or more homers, with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, A-Rod and Junior joining the three that ended the 1980s on the mountaintop.

And if you look behind Thome, you don't see a lot more guys closing in. Manny Ramirez still needs 45, which is more than he hit the last two years combined (and he turns 39 in May). Vladimir Guerrero isn't going to get the 164 he would need, and neither is Chipper Jones.

Albert Pujols? Yeah, the way he's going, you'd have to say he'll reach 600 someday, but for now he's still a long ways away, at 408.

So Thome could be it for a while.

That's a good thing. If 600 home runs is going to be special, we can't be having a run at 600 every year.

Now, is it still special? Is there any magic left in it?

Jim Thome will tell us.

Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 12:31 pm

Thome returns to Twins

Jim Thome is staying with the Twins.

Thome, who hit 25 home runs last year and was key in the Twins' run to the American League Central title, today agreed to a one-year deal to return to the team. MLB.com reported that Thome will make a guaranteed $3 million.

The Rangers were also very interested in Thome, but they knew that his preference was to go back to the Twins. It's possible that the Rangers could now pursue some of the other DH candidates who remain on the free-agent market (Vladimir Guerrero, for example), but that's not at all certain.

Thome, who has 589 career home runs, ended up with 340 at-bats for the Twins in 2010, in large part because Justin Morneau missed most of the second half of the season with a concussion. With Morneau expected to be healthy to begin 2011, the plan will be for Thome to get a lot fewer at-bats this year -- but that's probably best, since Thome is now 40 years old.

The Twins are still working to re-sign pitcher Carl Pavano, as well, and they've been considered the strong favorites for him, too.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 11, 2011 10:17 am

Rangers eye Thome, plan rotation

Adrian Beltre was always the first part of Plan B for the Rangers.

But Jim Thome was always Plan B, Part II, after Cliff Lee turned down Texas to return to Philadelphia.

And Plan B, Part III will see Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando in a spring training audition for a spot in the starting rotation.

The Rangers have strong interest in Thome, as has been reported elsewhere. But Thome has strong emotional ties to the Twins, the team he played for in 2010, and the Rangers have some concern that Thome will choose to return to Minnesota, if that option is available to him.

It's not expected that Thome would be an everyday player with either team. In Texas, he would be a part-time designated hitter, with Michael Young expected to get most of the at-bats at DH. The same would be true in Minnesota, where, where the return of Justin Morneau from a concussion would shift Michael Cuddyer back to the outfield and put Thome back in the part-time role he had at the start of 2010.

While the Rangers are pursuing Thome, it's not at all certain that they would go after another DH type if Thome goes to the Twins instead.

Remember, when the Rangers lost out on Lee, they didn't go after another starting pitcher.

Texas had talks with the Royals about Zack Greinke and talks with the Rays about Matt Garza, but in both cases decided that the price would be far too high in terms of prospects.

Instead, the Rangers plan to approach their rotation the same way they did last year, by looking at two relievers for one starting spot. It was Feliz and C.J. Wilson last year, and the Rangers chose right, as Wilson went on to 15 wins and Feliz went on to become a Rookie of the Year closer.

Despite Feliz's success in the bullpen, the Rangers plan to stretch him out again this spring. Should they choose Feliz to start, Ogando could become the closer, although Frank Francisco is also available. At this point, the Rangers aren't pursuing free-agent closer Rafael Soriano.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com