FanDuel - WFBC

April 20, 2008

Jays release Frank Thomas: : After a slow start, and a dispute over benching the aging star, the Blue Jays release Frank Thomas

posted by Tinman to baseball at 11:28 PM - 52 comments

Toronto manager John Gibbons said "Out of respect for his career, it's not fair to him to sit around and become a part-time player," In baseball terms, to a thirty-nine year old player, that's code for: it's time to retire. Just like: it's not you it's me really means: It's you.

posted by Tinman at 11:37 PM on April 20

As a long time White Sox fan I knew this was coming after the comments he made a few days ago. He has never been one to hold his tounge and it has hurt him more times than it has helped. That being said i still think that he is one of the best hitters that I have ever seen and when Ted Williams says that you have one of the purest swings he has seen that means something. To bad he angered so many of the Chicago writers that will one day help determine his Hall of Fame future.

posted by jda at 01:01 AM on April 21

Thank God. /Manny Delcarmen

posted by justgary at 01:40 AM on April 21

Tongue firmly planted in cheek - What does A Night at the Roxbury have to do with anything. Couldn't help myself.

posted by Tinman at 01:59 AM on April 21

Thanks, Toronto. Now I had to go and find another player to take the place of the 'Big Hurt' on my fantasy baseball roster as soon as I heard this. Lucky for me that I was able to replace him but damn, I was depending on those runs. Oh yeah, sorry to hear you don't have a job right now. Don't worry Buckaroo, I'm sure that some team can still use a DH and once your picked up, back on my roster you go.

posted by BornIcon at 07:18 AM on April 21

In baseball terms, to a thirty-nine year old player, that's code for: it's time to retire. Not really, it seems to be almost entirely a money move. Gibbons and JP are developing a shitty track record of people management in Toronto.

posted by yerfatma at 07:18 AM on April 21

Between Thomas' big mouth, big money, and lack of production, it's not really a surprising move. A DH on a team expecting to be in contention needs to chip in with hits, not just an occasional homer.

posted by dyams at 08:02 AM on April 21

Maybe they are just being realistic? 39 years old + low production + high salary doesn't make good sense for the team.

posted by whitedog65 at 08:08 AM on April 21

Frank Thomas through Sunday: .167/.306/.333, 3 HR, 11 RBI David Ortiz through Sunday: .160/.267/.240, 2 HR, 12 RBI I know these two players have different projected performance levels for this season and are in different stages of their respective careers and current contracts, but this is not really about a team expecting to be in contention deciding it can't wait for a player to work through a slump barely one tenth into the season. This is about saving $10MM for next season and ridding the team of a player who maybe has some personality conflicts with those in charge and/or his teammates.

posted by holden at 08:11 AM on April 21

Not really, it seems to be almost entirely a money move. Gibbons and JP are developing a shitty track record of people management in Toronto. Really? This move frees up 10M for a more productive player next year in addition to getting a young player who looks ready for the MLB some at-bats. 10M can get you a lot more than 25HR/85RBI and two months of almost zero production from a slow starter like Thomas. Shea Hillenbrand was a cancer in the locker room; they turned him into a closer/setup man. They're managing the players like assets which, in the business of baseball, they are. It's a reality of doing business with teams who can eat a salary like Thomas much easier than they can.

posted by dfleming at 09:05 AM on April 21

Soooo, which team is gonna pick him up? If there were teams considering Bonds, maybe The Big Hurt would fit the bill.

posted by BoKnows at 09:07 AM on April 21

Shea Hillenbrand was a cancer in the locker room; they turned him into a closer/setup man. ?

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:31 AM on April 21

Shea Hillenbrand was a cancer in the locker room; they turned him into a closer/setup man. When did that ever happen?

posted by BornIcon at 09:48 AM on April 21

Shea Hillenbrand was a cancer in the locker room; they turned him into a closer/setup man. Maybe the Jays should have looked into turning Thomas into a closer/setup man.

posted by dyams at 09:49 AM on April 21

I think what dfleming is referring to is the Blue Jays trading Hillenbrand to the Giants (with Vinne Chulk) for Jeremy Accardo.

posted by holden at 10:00 AM on April 21

Yeah, 'turned' was a confusing word choice.

posted by jerseygirl at 10:21 AM on April 21

Frank Thomas through Sunday: .167/.306/.333, 3 HR, 11 RBI David Ortiz through Sunday: .160/.267/.240, 2 HR, 12 RBI Don't forget the all important economic reality that Big Papi will put a lot of butts in seats for the rest of his career. Management will always put that high on a list of variables when deciding ROI.

posted by smithnyiu at 10:34 AM on April 21

This move frees up 10M for a more productive player next year Sure, but that's an interesting approach for a GM & manager who might not see next year. How long will Toronto fans be willing to wait?

posted by yerfatma at 10:45 AM on April 21

Not really, it seems to be almost entirely a money move. Gibbons and JP are developing a shitty track record of people management in Toronto. Yeah, they will save some money next year. But this year they are still paying him $8million. That's a rather princely sum to be shed of somebody they believe might still have some gas in his tank. Maybe Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds and Mike Sweeney could file joint grievances with the players union...or maybe they should just know when to quit.

posted by Tinman at 10:47 AM on April 21

Don't forget the all important economic reality that Big Papi will put a lot of butts in seats for the rest of his career. Management will always put that high on a list of variables when deciding ROI. The Red Sox will put butts in the seats irrespective of whether Ortiz continues to have monster years or declines precipitously. It is probably one team of a few for which the existence or absence of a marquee player has very little impact on attendance. Maybe Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds and Mike Sweeney could file joint grievances with the players union...or maybe they should just know when to quit. I don't think it's a matter of knowing when to quit. Why should a player quit when he can be a positive contributor? Frank Thomas can be a productive contributor this year, slow start notwithstanding. You simply cannot justify a decision based on performance when that performance is limited to what amounts to a pretty small sample in the context of a 162 game season. I understand the move from an economic standpoint and maybe from a team chemistry standpoint, but I do not believe it is warranted solely from a performance standpoint. There is also nothing from a performance standpoint that should keep Bonds from having a job -- a hitter who can put up an OBP in excess of .400 and slug between .450 and .500 is a valuable commodity. There may be non-performance-related reasons to not sign him, but he still has something to offer the right team in terms of what he can do on the field. Mike Sweeney, on the other hand...

posted by holden at 11:20 AM on April 21

Apologies on the wording. Pre-coffee. Sure, but that's an interesting approach for a GM & manager who might not see next year. How long will Toronto fans be willing to wait? Toronto fans have a competitive team in a division where they are largely outmatched in terms of payroll. If JP wants to effectively manage the limited resources he has, he's going to have to make difficult decisions like this. Adam Lind is ready to play. Matt Stairs is a productive veteran. If either one can fill a hole this year and play productively, they will have 10M next year to invest in upgrades and make this team even better. It'll give players like McGowan, Litsch, League, Lind and hill a year to mature. They may even compete this year. Thomas was clear that he didn't want to platoon/sit on the bench until he heats up. If that's the case and Gibbons and JP think the at-bats could be better served elsewhere, they didn't have any options but to let him go. They've got a weird sense of both urgency (not wanting to wait for Thomas to get hot) and vision for the future but I think the move was the right one, given the circumstances. They get locked into money they might not want to spend by providing a player with unproductive at-bats. That's foolish.

posted by dfleming at 11:26 AM on April 21

Sure, but that's an interesting approach for a GM & manager who might not see next year. How long will Toronto fans be willing to wait? Lots of Blue Jays are also Maple Leaf fans, so you can imagine that we have infinite patience. *sob* As for this deal, while I'm a HUGE Frank Thomas fan, I think it's the right move. If Adam Lind is healthy in a few days, he'll be a much better fit for the roster and his bat is on fire down in AAA. Frank Thomas through Sunday: .167/.306/.333, 3 HR, 11 RBI David Ortiz through Sunday: .160/.267/.240, 2 HR, 12 RBI Frank Thomas' baseball age: 40 David Ortiz's baseball age: 32 Frank Thomas, last 3 seasons OPS+: 131, 140, 125 David Ortiz, last 3 seasons OPS+: 158, 161, 171 Yeah, they will save some money next year. But this year they are still paying him $8million. That's a rather princely sum to be shed of somebody they believe might still have some gas in his tank. Well, they were going to pay him $8million whether he plays, sits on the bench, or sits at home. It's a sunk cost and shouldn't factor into how they make decisions for the rest of the year. The looming $10million extension, plus future performance (and/or grumbling) should be the deciding factor. To bad he angered so many of the Chicago writers that will one day help determine his Hall of Fame future. If Frank Thomas gets less than 90% of the vote for the Hall of Fame, then they should just burn down the place with all of the voters inside it. All of his numbers, plus MVP awards, plus (and it pains me to use this phrase) steroid-accusation-free career would be more than enough to carry him to a first ballot HOF vote. Comparison: With everything that Albert Pujols has done as a hitter since becoming a major leaguer, Frank Thomas put up better numbers when he joined the league. From 1990-1997, he was the best hitter in the American League (and the 2nd best hitter in all of the majors).

posted by grum@work at 11:33 AM on April 21

There may be non-performance-related reasons to not sign him, but he still has something to offer the right team in terms of what he can do on the field. As a manager I could see that take if you were talking about a player shorter in the tooth with less baggage. What you do not want to do is risk poisoning your team's chemistry on the hope that he might have another year in the offing. Unhappy and unproductive prima donas have a tendency to bring bad juju with them.

posted by Tinman at 11:47 AM on April 21

That being said earlier, I do think the Reed Johnson release makes less sense now than it did before. Reed's a productive top of the lineup kind of hitter who might've filled in well as a platoon at LF or DH.

posted by dfleming at 12:22 PM on April 21

That being said earlier, I do think the Reed Johnson release makes less sense now than it did before. Reed's a productive top of the lineup kind of hitter who might've filled in well as a platoon at LF or DH. Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus agrees with you:

That actually brings us back to the real problem: left field. Shannon Stewart is the nominal Jaysí left fielder, except that heís never available. Stewart is hitting .235/.341/.294 in just 41 PA, and while he hasnít been on the DL, heís just been unable to play about half of the time. I didnít hate the Stewart signing at the time, although I didnít really understand where he fit on the Blue Jays. As it turns out, signing Stewart pushed the Jays to release Reed Johnson, a better player. See? You can always create space for talent. Even if the talent canít throw and canít stay on the field. That the Jays would choose to keep Stewart and release Thomas is execrable decision-making, the kind of thing you do when you donít really know what youíre doing. Now, the long-term play here is to recall Adam Lind, who should have been the left fielder all along, even though he didnít hit last season and was sent down, then didnít make the team in March in part because of the decision to bring in Shannon Stewart. Lind is nursing a minor neck injury at the moment, and has not been called up. If he is promoted once healthy, the Jays have at least improved left fieldÖbut that still has nothing to do with Thomas. You could have Lind in left, or Lind platooning with Stewart on the eight days a month that Stewart can play. Thomas platoons with Matt Stairs at DH, with Stairs occasionally playing first base in place of Lyle Overbay, who is once again quietly killing the Jays (.262/.368/.323) with his contributions. You could also just release Stewart and play Lind every day. The sheer quantity of alternate paths that were available to the Blue Jays four days ago boggle the mind. They chose the one in which they released the best hitter of the bunch based on 45 plate appearances. No, Thomas canít play the field, but itís an open question whether Shannon Stewart can, and only one of the two isnít a joke as a DH. The roster machinations necessary to cover for Shannon Stewart are driving virtually every move the Jays make. Back all the way up to New Yearís. At that point, the Blue Jays had Adam Lind, Reed Johnson, and Frank Thomas. Now, with Lind in Triple-A, they have Shannon Stewart, Matt Stairs, and Joe Inglett, and they're spending an additional $4 million on Stairs and Stewart. If Ricciardiís goal was to shift focus from the Troy Tulowitzki decision, heís there.

posted by holden at 12:29 PM on April 21

Ideally, I think that Thomas gets released either way. His salary next year and declining production would've made sense to offer him a reduced role with the team, one he wasn't willing to accept. They needed to keep him under a certain number of at-bats this year unless he came out and slugged a ton of homeruns. He wasn't doing that. Johnson, even if he was recovering, was a better option in LF than Stewart. Their production is similar but Johnson's a better fielder and a sparkplug offensive player. Lind eventually takes over but Stairs/Johnson at DH is better than Stairs/Stewart will be. If they can spend 10M replacing Overbay next year and Lind gets 300-400 at bats at the major league level and his bat arrives, they're going to really have a neat team next year. Stairs is not a long term DH option but he might be a platoon option with a lefty hitter through trade or FA.

posted by dfleming at 12:38 PM on April 21

Frank Thomas in the HOF? Always has been a tough question to answer. Granted his first seven years were the best ever. Is that enough to get in? He seems not to get along with anyone. He prefers his stats over team succcess. Cant play the field. I believe it will be a very tough call. Being one of the games biggest jack-offs does not help.

posted by whodat at 01:04 PM on April 21

I'd lean towards him in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Much better all around hitter than McGwire, very similar power numbers, lifetime .300 batting average, two-time MVP. Kind of tough to keep him out.

posted by dyams at 01:14 PM on April 21

Purely on the numbers, Thomas should be a no doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer. Any perceived character issues are going to be far outweighed by the fact that he is one of two marquee position players (Ken Griffey, Jr. being the other) from the steroid era who is widely believed to have absolutely no taint whatsoever of PEDs. I suspect that will be a dominant theme in the run up to the voting in his first year of eligibility.

posted by holden at 01:27 PM on April 21

It seems as if Thomas believes he should be in the lineup whether he is producing or not. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in a team sport isn't it up to the manager to decide the best lineup to help his team win more games? HOF'er? No doubt about it.

posted by whitedog65 at 01:47 PM on April 21

Frank Thomas in the HOF?....Being one of the games biggest jack-offs does not help. There is no way I can agree with this statement. Frank Thomas has been one of the few great ones given the era that he's played under and no one can say any different. The guy has hit over 500 homeruns and the last I looked, only a select few have hitten that many. Just because he chooses to speak his mind, that makes him 'one of the games biggest jack-offs'? The teams that Big Hurt has played for have nothing but the upmost respect for him, deservingly so and no one can take away the fact that the guy is a future Hall of Famer.

posted by BornIcon at 02:03 PM on April 21

Frank Thomas in the HOF? Always has been a tough question to answer. Only if "Yes" isn't one of the options. What makes him "one of the games biggest jack-offs"?

posted by yerfatma at 02:15 PM on April 21

Have to say, having watched the Hurt over the past few weeks, it really isn't about saving money - Jays payroll is already over $100 million, and have alledgedly budgetted the next $10 million into next years payroll. They're still on the hook for the $10 million this year, too. It is about performance. Hurt's bat speed is woefully slow and he hasn't seen anything but a fastball for a while now and he simply can't catch up. Gibbons and JP are developing a shitty track record of people management in Toronto. The reason for the release is that both JP and John Gibbons are on the hot seat. They can't afford to wait for Hurt to come around sometime in June, and Hurt wouldn't accept a more limited role (DH against lefties with some pinch hitting). This gives him the chance to sign somewhere else quickly instead of waiting out a trade. But fatty's right in that they aren't making too many friends with veteran players out there.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:37 PM on April 21

Lets see what makes Frank one of the games biggest jack-offs. Always trying to hit a hr instead of moving the runner to the next base. Always asking for more money after he signed a contract. Threating not to report on time because he didnt recieve more money. Refusing to talk to the press because he didnt recieve more money. Trash talking soxs after because of not recieving more money. Going BK because of selling his contract on the open market. I will bow to anyone in chicago ( white sox fan ) who tries to tell me that frank WASNT a jackoff while with the soxs. Vote for Dale Murphy if you want a 2 time mvp in the HOF. At least he was a class act.

posted by whodat at 01:32 AM on April 22

Lets see what makes Frank one of the games biggest jack-offs....Refusing to talk to the press because he didnt recieve more money. Jay Mariotti?

posted by BornIcon at 07:46 AM on April 22

Always trying to hit a hr instead of moving the runner to the next base Don't forget Wade Boggs was an asshole for never trying to hit a home run and just moving runners ahead instead. Refusing to talk to the press because he didnt recieve more money Citation, please? I don't even know what that means. "BK" has me confused as well. Around here it's Burger King. Call me when Dale Murphy's numbers get within shouting distance of Frank's.

posted by yerfatma at 08:16 AM on April 22

Call me when Dale Murphy's numbers get within shouting distance of Frank's. Have to agree with yerfatma. Murphy is always the name brought up when talk moves to bringing anyone of questionable integrity (this is not to say Thomas is of questionable integrity) into the Hall of Fame, mainly because he was so squeaky-clean. Few seem to compare to Murphy, though, when it comes to leading a clean, upstanding lifestyle. But his numbers don't compare. Murphy was a very good player, but in his prime, Thomas was a monster.

posted by dyams at 09:51 AM on April 22

I assume BK means bankrupt. But I don't recall ever seeing anything about Frank Thomas going bankrupt, and I've lived in Chicago off and on for the past 14 years. I know Frank did negotiate with an investment bank to securitize his contract, but I don't think that ever was consummated.

posted by holden at 09:54 AM on April 22

Always trying to hit a hr instead of moving the runner to the next base. "Moving the runner to the next base" = "wasting an out with a slugger like Thomas at the plate" = "stupid move" There is a reason why Frank Thomas has NEVER laid down a sacrifice bunt at any time in his career (he's currently the all-time MLB record holder for that streak). When you have a game-changing slugger like that at the plate, you don't waste outs with him. If you want to bunt with a limp-noodle bat like Neifi Perez, go right ahead. There was probably a 70% chance he wasn't going to get on base anyways.

posted by grum@work at 11:14 AM on April 22

Noone ever wanted frank to lay a bunt but hit the ball to the right side to advance the runner. Frank always reported late to spring training because of not recieving more money. The point of frank not talking to the press results is essentially not talking to the fans. The press was the only means for the fans to recieve info back then. Remember Frank was "suppose" to be a leader of the team. Frank always cared about his stats rather then team success. Sounds familar toronto? FYI Frank did sell his contract- very similar to the way David Bowie did in mid 90's. He blew it on a recording studio and a messy financial settlement with former wife. Dont forgot frank getting tossed out of game after hitting 500th hr. All this equals JACKOFF.

posted by whodat at 12:55 PM on April 22

There's no arguing with math.

posted by yerfatma at 01:21 PM on April 22

For the record, David Bowie jacked-off who?

posted by dyams at 01:24 PM on April 22

I thought it was that David Bowie blew someone.

posted by BornIcon at 01:27 PM on April 22

David Bowie had a messy former wife? With all his money?

posted by smithnyiu at 03:05 PM on April 22

You guys are the best.

posted by whodat at 01:28 AM on April 23

Bowie was a fucking monster if you threw him a first-pitch fastball. Opposite field power you'd never expect from a pasty, androgynous Brit. Seems to me, I heard at one point he was a switch-hitter, too.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:02 PM on April 23

Seems to me, I heard at one point he was a switch-hitter, too. I heard that he practised with The Mick, was that true?

posted by tommytrump at 06:43 PM on April 23

And Bowie did it all with a stomach full of Rod Stewart's man-juice.

posted by dyams at 09:41 PM on April 23

Thomas is now reportedly back with Oakland. I didn't hear if Bowie was included in the deal.

posted by dyams at 11:57 AM on April 24

And Bowie did it all with a stomach full of Rod Stewart's man-juice. Is that the same thing as Michael Jackson's Jesus juice?

posted by BornIcon at 12:06 PM on April 24

Is that the same thing as Michael Jackson's Jesus juice? If you're talking "Jesus" as in the first name of some young Dominican boy, then it probably is the same thing.

posted by dyams at 12:29 PM on April 24

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