Jim Thome is waiting by the phone

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Jim Thome’s name hasn’t come up much this offseason, which is somewhat surprising for a guy who hit .249/.386/.481 with 23 homers in 434 plate appearances last year and yet not all that surprising given that he hasn’t played first base regularly since 2005.
Thome still crushes right-handed pitching, but as a 39-year-old designated hitter who’s borderline useless against left-handed pitching and offers only an emergency option at first base his potential suitors are very limited. Thome seems to have realized this three months into the offseason and made it clear yesterday that he’s basically just hoping the White Sox give him a call after dealing him to the Dodgers for the stretch run:

My door is open. All you’ve got to do is call me. We’ll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I’ve learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on. I want to play baseball. Right now, we’re talking to a few teams, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been a slow winter in the market, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and move forward.

While certainly not the MVP-caliber offensive monster he once was, Thome remains very dangerous when spotted versus righties. Against them he batted .262/.383/.498 in 2009 and .274/.402/.552 with an average of 39 homers per 500 from 2007-2009. There are plenty of teams for whom that production would be a huge upgrade, including the White Sox, but manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he wants to keep the DH spot open for a rotation of Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, and Mark Kotsay.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.