On Friday, the Twins and slugger Jim Thome agreed on a one year deal worth $3 million with additional performance bonuses. Thome reportedly turned down more money from Texas to stay in Minnesota for another season. In 2010, he hit .283 with 25 HR and 59 RBI in 109 games, and seemingly won over the heart of every Twins fan with his mammoth home runs. Thome is also 11 home runs shy of hitting 600 for his career, so from a marketing standpoint the Twins will benefit from this deal greatly.
But from a roster standpoint, I have to disagree with this move. Don't get me wrong, I love Jim Thome. He is a Hall of Fame player both on the field and off the field. And it was fun watching him tee off on opposing pitchers. But when push comes to shove, the Twins have so many left handed bats in their lineup. And when facing an effective lefty starter, the lineup is very vunerable. And bringing back a guy who is a career .238 hitter against lefties, on a very limited budget is a bad move. The Twins desperately need a right handed power bat who can hit off the bench and DH when lefties are starting.
With legitimate right handed 1B/DH players out there (Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus), it made no sense to have Thome return when he is purely a DH. He just can't get around quick enough to field anymore. And as stated before, the Twins have a limited budget during the offseason and limited roster spots to fill. The bench already consists of Drew Butera (C), Jason Repko (OF), and Matt Tolbert(INF). And that left only one spot to fill (Unless Gardy goes with 11 pitchers, but that is highly unlikely given the state of the bullpen), which was now given to Thome. The Twins need a viable option at first if Justin Morneau suffers concussion symptoms again during the year. And Michael Cuddyer is not that option. He just didn't stand out defensively at first. Many balls in the dirt that a regular first baseman should be scooped up, didn't get scooped up. And it became very noticeable. And of the before mention players on the bench, Tolbert and Thome are the only ones who could fill in at first. So unless Thome decides he wants to give fielding another try, the Twins are going with Morneau at first and Cuddyer as his back up.
Thome had a great 2010 season (The best moment was his walk off against the White Sox). But it is very unlikely he can repeat what he did in 2010 for 2011. His age just doesn't say he can repeat those numbers. And I hope people realize that so they won't be letdown. And I was kind of hoping the Twins would realize that and let Thome move on so they could make this ballclub better going forward.. But it didn't seem they did. And how much will it cost them in 2011?