With inter-league play all wrapped up for the year, Jim Thome’s time in Philadelphia seemed numbered. The clock struck zero on Saturday when Ruben Amaro traded the veteran slugger to the Baltimore Orioles. Thome came back to the Phillies this year for one last go round, but most of all for a chance to win a World Series. Things obviously have not worked out as expected for the Phillies or Thome. It was a bit of a stretch, but management thought Jim could hack a few games at first base with Howard out, and would step in as the team’s DH during their road games against the AL. Unfortunately, Thome’s back had other plans. After weeks of professional masseuses walking up and down the lumbering player’s back, he returned in the nick of time to DH for Phillies.
Thome’s inter-league run was inspired, hitting .333 (12 for 36) with four homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.137 OPS. It seemed like a mirage, or one of those flash backs they do in the movies. He looked like the prize free agent the Phillies signed nearly a decade ago mashing home runs to right center field. Being a DH and pinch hitting are two very different animals though. I understand the need to get at bats to find a “groove”, but Jimbo just couldn’t keep it going back in the NL.
His last highlight as a Phillie will be hitting his MLB career high 13th walk off home run against the Tampa Bay Rays. No one wanted him to succeed in that role more than Charlie. Manuel was his biggest advocate, and the two seemed to speak their own language when it came to hitting. Both men will keep in touch (i don’t think Charlie uses skype), but they won’t be able to go over strategy and the endless nuances of hitting before games anymore.
For the particulars of the deal, the Phillies received two single A prospects. pitcher Kyle Simon and catcher Gabriel Lino. If either of the two make the Phillies roster down the road it will be a bonus, as that’s not what this trade was about. Phillies new farm director Joe Jordan came from Baltimore, so he knows these players better than most, but it’s still very difficult to make it out of single A. The odds are against them.
Thome now finds himself in Baltimore, competing for a division title on a young team no one expected to be in the spot they are now. The Phillies are at the opposite end of the spectrum, who could have just made their first move of many. The team is off to its worst start in 15 years, and the clock is ticking to turn it around. Could Cole Hamels actually be traded? Is Victorino Flyin’ out of town?
If CBS’s John Heyman’s report is any idication Jim Thome is only the beginning. Attention all Phillies fans, brace for impact as it will be a bumpy ride to the trade deadline.