Jim Thome has started at first base for the Phillies in three of the first 16 games, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that he last played even an inning at the position in mid-2007.
He committed a throwing error yesterday, but health-wise the 41-year-old has held up pretty well after missing tons of time with minor injuries during the previous few seasons.
Getting just 18 total plate appearances through 16 games has made it tough for Thome to stay sharp and he’s just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts, but considering how much the Phillies’ lineup has struggled to produce runs it’ll be interesting to see if manager Charlie Manuel tries to expand his role with some more time at first base.
In addition to Thome’s three starts there the Phillies have used Ty Wigginton six times, Laynce Nix four times, and John Mayberry three times, and that quartet has combined to hit just .263 with one homer and a .730 OPS. Of course, as mediocre as a .730 OPS is for first base it actually ranks as the best OPS the Phillies have gotten from any position in their lineup. Which is why they rank second-to-last with 2.7 runs per game.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.