Jim Thome is looking for work

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We haven’t heard much about Jim Thome since the Indians stopped pursuing him a few weeks ago, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com talked to the future Hall of Famer and has an update.

Basically he’d like to play this season but doesn’t have any interested teams right now, so the 42-year-old is heading to Arizona to work out and be prepared.

“My plan is to kind of stay in shape and see what happens,” Thome told Rosenthal. “If a team calls for me, mentally, I want to know I’m ready to go.”

Because he’s strictly a designated hitter and has often needed regular days off to avoid injuries Thome’s market has been limited for several years–at least compared to his production–and now that he’s shown signs of slowing down as a hitter last season the market may have totally dried up.

Which is a shame, because Thome is still an above-average hitter with power and patience, and is universally regarded as a helluva nice guy too. If he wants to play a 23nd season I’d love to see him land a part-time gig, but it’s not looking likely.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.