Friday, April 25, 2008

Doubting Thomas

Frank Thomas is not the sort of guy you want to bench, because he's generally a pain in the ass when his ass is on the pine. Unless they benched him, the Blue Jays would have been on the hook for his option next year. So, they took the excuse of his slow start to dump him, and any yammering about "playing the kids" is transparent hooey. Rod Barajas is neither a kid nor a hitter (designated or otherwise), and running him out there as the Big Hurt's successor in the DH role is a lot like shunting in Lawrence Gowan after Dennis DeYoung on keyboards for Styx. Who's Lawrence Gowan, you say? Exactly.
Afterwards, it took about fifteen seconds for the A's to pick Thomas up. This is a no-risk move for Oakland. Toronto is playing most of his salary, so if Thomas really has lost it, Oakland's only on the hook for a little over $300K. If he really has lost it, the A's can cut Thomas without taking much of a hit. If he hasn't, and he bounces back, they suddenly have either a great trading chit, or a solid DH to help fuel an unlikely run at contention.
Of course, there's one last potential twist here. With the Yankees looking old and mortal, the Tigers and Indians scuffling, and the AL playoff picture wide open, this was the year the Blue Jays could seriously think about sneaking in. Their pitching - Burnett in a contract year, Halladay steady as always, and good young arms backing them up - is playoff-caliber. Their offense, on the other hand...not so much. And if at the deadline, the Jays are short one bat and Thomas is mashing in Oakland, that may be what finally puts a stake through the heart of the J.P. Ricciardi regime.
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