Jim Thome Rumors
Last year's Phillies team comfortably led the Major Leagues in run prevention by allowing just 3.27 runs per game. It's been a different story so far in 2012. Just seven teams surrender more runs than the last-place Phillies, who are averaging 4.46 runs allowed per game. Here's the latest from the NL East...
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney considers some possible fits for Jim Thome, who's being shopped to American League teams.
- There hasn't been any progress in the Phillies' contract talks with Cole Hamels, Olney writes. Hamels' contract expires after the 2012 season.
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. must address the Phillies' bullpen issues relatively soon, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. It's "pretty damn difficult" to develop inexperienced pitchers and win simultaneously, manager Charlie Manuel noted.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told Greg Cote of the Miami Herald that he believes the 35-40 Marlins have a spectacular club. “It’s a playoff-caliber team, absolutely,” Loria said. “We’re going to have our run."
- D.C. is starting to feel like home for Bryce Harper, and he'd like to continue playing for the Nationals for a long time, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. “You look at Cal Ripken. You look at Derek Jeter. You look at all the greats that played for one team their whole career,” Harper has said. “I want to be like that. I’ve always wanted to be like that. I’ve always wanted to play with that same team.”
The Phillies are making Jim Thome available to American League teams in need of help at designated hitter, two AL executives tell ESPN's Jayson Stark. Ruben Amaro didn't confirm that he was shopping the veteran slugger, but said "if there's a situation out there that benefits both Jim and the Phillies, we'll try to put something together."
"The ideal situation right now, because he can't really play defense in the National League, would be for Jim to play in the American League," Amaro said. "He still has the ability to win a game for us and be productive off the bench. The problem is, the further away he gets from regular at-bats, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that."
Thome spent a month on the DL with a back injury and is just 1-for-16 as a pinch-hitter for Philadelphia this season, but showed he can still produce with regular playing time, hitting .333/.415/.722 with four homers in 41 plate appearances while serving as the Phillies' designated hitter in interleague play. This stretch convinced Thome that he is best suited as a DH and he has told the Phils that he would accept a trade to an AL team if a fit can be found.
Thome's friends say he would prefer to return to one of his former teams, but the Indians and White Sox have their DH spots filled and the Twins will be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline. Among AL contenders, the Orioles stand out as having the clearest need for a DH, with the Rays (Luke Scott has struggled and Hideki Matsui hasn't produced much) and Rangers as darkhorse candidates, though Thome would be expendable in Texas once Mitch Moreland returns from the DL in August.
Teams interested in acquiring starting pitching help surely noticed when the Cubs placed right-hander Ryan Dempster on the disabled list with right lat tightness today. Dempster, 35, is one of the top starters known to be available in trades. Here are today’s links...
- A quick sale of the Padres may not be possible at this point, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. The three apparent finalists are all leading bid groups with multiple investors, which will require extensive background work once a sale is announced.
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com examines the trade stock of some of the Phillies biggest names in the event that their slide continues into late July.
- Blue Jays righty Kyle Drabek is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, tweets Barry Davis of Sportsnet.ca. This will be the second time Drabek has been through Tommy John.
- Free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero isn't close to signing, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- There's no indication the Tigers are interested in Jim Thome, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports. Thome, a "longtime tormentor" of the Tigers, bats left-handed, which means he’s not a perfect fit in Detroit. The Tigers are interested in acquiring a bat before the July 31st trade deadline and they'd prefer to add a right-handed hitter, Morosi reported yesterday.
- GM Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Yankees haven't pursued contract extensions for Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson, but aim to keep both players long-term (Twitter link).
- Maury Brown explains that TV deals are boosting franchise values across MLB in a piece at Baseball Prospectus.
Happy Father's Day to all dads! Jim Thome, a father of two, became just the fourth player in baseball history to hit 100 home runs for three different clubs with his solo shot in the Phillies' game against the Blue Jays. Thome joins Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson, and Darrell Evans in that exclusive club.
- Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Adam Rosenbloom of MLB.com, he is concerned about the playing career of Jason Bay, who is on the disabled list with his second career concussion. "We've got to put ourselves in his shoes, and decide what we think is the best for the future," Collins said.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti will not show any apprehension approaching the trade deadline after the mixed results of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal last year, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I continue to trust our process and evaluators," said Antonetti. "If we feel the right guy is out there, and it's the right trade, we'll certainly be willing to make it. I don't think we'd operate any differently."
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes the Brewers recent sweep at the hands of the Royals may cause the team to be sellers at the trade deadline. Haudricourt points out the Brewers will have several question marks heading into 2013 including the starting rotation, first base, outfield, and shortstop.
ESPN's Buster Olney shared a number of items (via his Twitter feed) about a variety of hot stove topics and rumors...
- The Red Sox might be forced to deal Kevin Youkilis due to a "roster crunch" at the corner infield positions and players returning from the DL. Rival executives, however, think Youkilis currently has "no trade value" so it doesn't make sense for Boston to move him right now.
- The Angels and Yankees are "still waiting for needs to be defined" before exploring trades, while the Red Sox are only focused on acquiring starting pitching.
- Many baseball executives believe the Padres will trade Carlos Quentin, though Olney reports the Padres "would like to" offer Quentin a long-term extension sometime this summer. Olney's phrasing may relate to the uncertain status of the Padres' ownership situation.
- Teams have checked in on Josh Willingham but have been told that he isn't available. Some believe this could change but others believe Twins GM Terry Ryan "is, generally speaking, conservative with in-season deals" so the Twins could hold onto their slugger.
- The Pirates are looking for hitting but thus far found few sellers willing to deal.
- The Dodgers are asking about first basemen as they look to upgrade from James Loney but have "no reason to go crazy" finding a second base replacement for Mark Ellis, who will return from the DL at some point.
- The Rockies aren't seen as a team with much to trade, as their roster is split between "untouchables" (i.e. Troy Tulowitzki) and "role players" (such as Rafael Betancourt).
- Jim Thome could be a trade target for AL teams but Olney believes Phillies GM Ruben Amaro would first ask Thome if changing teams was something the respected veteran would want.
The latest the the Phillies, who are looking for a sixth consecutive NL East title in the increasingly competitive NL East...
- The perception among most baseball people is that Joe Blanton is available for the right price, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said outfielder Tyson Gillies has the skillset to play in the Major Leagues, according to Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He has better tools than a lot of the guys we've got," Amaro said. "He just needs to play. The poor guy hasn't gotten a chance to play. He's still young." Gillies, 23, missed all but three games in 2011 and played in only 28 games in 2010.
- The Phillies’ projected 25-man roster consists of many older players, but Sheridan writes that "it's more important to get better than simply younger.” The Phillies added players such as Jim Thome (41), Ty Wigginton (34) and Chad Qualls (33) this past offseason.
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains why Thome's defensive work will affect the Phillies' ability to work him into their lineup.
Happy birthday to right-hander Gavin Floyd, who is 29 years old today. With the number of Floyd trade rumors we've heard this winter, you wonder if this could be Floyd's last birthday as a member of the White Sox. Here's the latest from the AL Central...
- Indians manager Manny Acta told reporters at a Town Hall event today (including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian) that he wants the team to pick up another bat. "I do hope that something happens," Acta said. "Chris [Antonetti] has worked really hard...about trying to acquire a hitter or two. It's not a secret, we need some help offensively." For his part, Antonetti said he was "hopeful that we'll be able to improve the team between now and the start of Spring Training," (all Twitter links).
- The Tigers' nine-year, $214MM contract with Prince Fielder "was an ownership-driven, impulsive deal, which is why the Tigers will contend for a World Series and why the contract makes poor baseball sense," writes Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press recounts the history between Tigers owner Mike Illitch and agent Scott Boras.
- The Tigers apparently have no plans to move Brandon Inge, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. The team sees Inge as a fallback option if Miguel Cabrera can't handle playing third base.
- Denard Span told media (including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger) he's feeling better after suffering a concussion last July and offered to play a different position if it helps the Twins. Manager Ron Gardenhire, however, said he plans to use Span in his usual center field spot.
- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf tells Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com that he and Jim Thome have a handshake deal in place for Thome to work for the Sox in some capacity after he retires.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams said his club is "maxed out" of money for the Major League roster, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Williams "played coy" when discussing Cuban free agents, however --- the Sox are known to be one of Yoenis Cespedes' suitors.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi about his team's offseason moves, and what he still might have in store before Opening Day...
- Amaro would like to add a left-handed reliever or rotation depth, provided either could be had at a reasonable price. The club would also like to add a bench option who can provide some added speed.
- The team is happy with its four-year, $50MM deal with Jonathan Papelbon, even after ex-closer Ryan Madson signed a one-year, $8.5MM deal with the Reds that looks like a major bargain. “That’s the beauty and difficulty of free agency,” Amaro said. “We knew there were other teams who were going to be very competitive in the market for closers. Once we got to an AAV (average annual value) of $12.5 million with Papelbon, we felt that was a reasonable deal for us to make....Markets can be fluid and difficult to gauge. I’m happy with the player we have.”
- Ryan Howard was recently cleared to resume weight-bearing and strength-building exercises but Amaro says the club is being "very cautious" with their star first baseman. Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon while making the last out of the NLDS and his DL stint will last into next season. Amaro says it would be "great" if Howard could return to the Phillies by May.
- Amaro is satisfied with his club's internal first base options, including Jim Thome, who Amaro says could play first up to four or five times per month. “Our medical people are surprised at the shape he’s in,” Amaro said. “They think he might be better now than he was when we first signed him in 2002.” Thome has been a full-time DH and pinch-hitter for the last four seasons.
The Phillies made one of the first notable signings of the offseason the other day, inking Jim Thome to a one-year deal. Here's some more on Thome and the rest of the game's Eastern division teams...
- Thome's deal with the Phillies allows him to earn an additional $250K based on his plate appearances, according to this tweet from ESPN's Jerry Cracnick. Thome will earn $50K for reaching 175, 200, 225, 250, and 275 plate appearances, making his contract potentially worth $1.5MM.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Braves would be open to trading anyone for the right price, following their late season collapse. Rosenthal also notes that Atlanta tried to acquire Lorenzo Cain from both the Brewers and Royals last offseason, offering up Brandon Beachy. They also tried for a swap of Jair Jurrjens and Brett Lawrie with Milwaukee, but were unsuccessful.
- WEEI.com's Arielle Aronson wonders if the Red Sox will pursue Martin Prado as an alternative if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere. The Phillies are thought to be big players in the Cuddyer sweepstakes.
- Steve Gould of the Baltimore Sun offers up his thoughts on how free agents Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, and Carlos Pena could or couldn't fit the Orioles.
Let's take a look at some weekend links from around the league....
- Michael Cuddyer is open to returning to the Twins, but even if Minnesota makes him the best offer, there's no guarantee he'll sign there, says Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 (Twitter links). Last night we heard that the Phillies are seriously pursuing Cuddyer.
- Approximately ten teams have expressed interest in Josh Willingham so far, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (via Twitter). O'Brien adds that the Braves, who could use a power-hitting outfielder, are not one of those clubs.
- With the Orioles close to hiring Dan Duquette, MASN's Roch Kubatko (Twitter link) talks to one O's person who calls Duquette "brilliant" and says no one is more connected in Asian and Latin American markets.
- As Alex Speier of WEEI writes, 60-year-old Pete Mackanin, a managerial candidate for the Cubs and Red Sox, would be an unconventional choice - no one 60 or older has been hired for his first full-time managerial job since Bobby Mattick in 1980 with the Blue Jays.
- Jim Thome doesn't seem to be a great fit in Philadelphia, says ESPN.com's Keith Law (Insider link). The Phillies agreed to sign the 41-year-old slugger to a one-year deal and introduced him at a news conference this afternoon.
- Rick Sofield, who has played and coached with Clint Hurdle in the past, is the latest addition to the Pirates' staff, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Mets are attempting to attract potential investors by agreeing to pay an annual interest on minority stakes, according to a New York Post report.