Jim Thome has a message for the White Sox: “Just call me.”
I can picture it now. Thome is sitting around with his family, probably watching TV. He has his phone out, checking it every five minutes. Eventually, he starts thinking he won’t get that call he so badly wants, so he puts it in his pocket.
A few minutes later, Thome shifts positions on his easy chair, causing his phone to move slightly in his pocket. He thinks it’s going off, so he immediately pulls it out and checks it.
His wife’s phone goes off later in the evening, and of course, Thome’s hand darts toward his phone only to realize that there’s nothing.
Then, just as he’s about to go to bed, his phone actually goes off. Getting excited, he opens it, but it’s just Jeff Cox asking if he wants to renew his season tickets.
Cox realizes it’s a wrong number, and to avoid an awkward conversation, he quickly wishes Thome well and hangs up.
Thome wants to return to the White Sox. They seem like a perfect fit: the team doesn’t has neither a DH nor any left-handed power. Thome is willing to come back for cheap to accommodate the team’s nearly maxed-out payroll.
And yet, Ozzie Guillen wants to test his managerial mettle by using a revolving door of designated hitters, including Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, Jayson Nix, and even Omar Vizquel.
The intentions behind Guillen’s desire to not fill a roster spot with a DH-only player are good. He’s hoping to keep the DH spot warm so Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko can take a few days off from playing the field while not leaving the lineup. That’s good—keeping the Sox’ two best power hitters healthy will be key for the team to contend this year.
But on those days where Quentin and Konerko do play the field, the Sox’ DH cupboard looks pretty bare. Jon Heyman is a notorious Scott Boras mouthpiece, so when he says that Andruw Jones—a Boras client—is in the best shape since the turn of the millennium, it should be taken with a grain of salt.
There’s really no harm in the White Sox signing Thome. Just because he’s on the roster doesn’t mean he has to play every day—remember, this is a player that approved a trade to a National League team last August for a chance to win a World Series.
Something tells me Thome wouldn’t have a problem taking a seat on those days where Quentin or Konerko need to rest. If done right, Thome could sit against lefties—against whom he only had a borderline poor wOBA in ’09—and Quentin/Konerko could DH those days with Jones filling in as the right fielder or (gulp) first baseman.
One more thing: Jim Thome deserves a chance to win a World Series. He’s played nearly two decades and has been close a few times, but he’s never tasted the glory of a championship. One of baseball’s consummate professionals and better power hitters deserves a chance at that, and with the pitching staff the White Sox have, the team has at least a shot going in to 2010.
All it would cost the White Sox to bring Thome back would be about $3 million and Jayson Nix’ roster spot. Is that really reason enough to not give Thome that call he wants and tell him the Sox are interested in bringing him back?
Like Thome, I’m holding out hope that his phone will buzz with a call from the White Sox soon. Problem is, it’s highly unlikely that the Sox change their strategy and place that call anytime soon.