And not only that, but it’s also been reported today that Thome’s agent and the Minnesota Twins have spoken with each other this afternoon.
I go back and forth on Thome. Not because I don’t think he’s a worthwhile addition. But having no idea how much the Twins are willing to spend for payroll this year, it would be a shame for them to sign a guy like Thome if it prevents them from upgrading at third base or second base.
Secondly, I worry the Twins wouldn’t use Thome correctly. What I mean by that is that you have a hard time convincing me the Twins aren’t better off with Thome as an everyday DH and Jason Kubel as an everyday left fielder than they are with Kubel at DH and Delmon Young in left field.
Thome is a far superior offensive player to Young. His on-base percentage is 70 points higher, and his slugging percentage is much higher, too.
Defensively, Kubel might actually be an upgrade over Young. Yes, I said it. Here’s how Fangraphs rates all left fielders in Major League Baseball last year with at least 550 innings at the position. Young ranks dead last in Ultimate Zone Rating, which is a very important category.
I know some of you aren’t statgeeks or sabermetrically inclined. That’s fine. But it’s hard to dispute the UZR players who rank poorly. Carlos Quentin. Manny Ramirez. Garrett Anderson. I don’t think anyone is surprised to see those names near the bottom.
Kubel scored a -2.3 in UZR/150 last year defensively in left field in just 208 innings. Small sample size, but he can’t be any worse than Young, can he?
The reason the Twins would never go Thome/Kubel over Young/Kubel is because they have so much invested in Young. He’s a player who is under team control for the next few years, and they traded a future ace (Matt Garza) and an everyday shortstop (Jason Bartlett) for him. And both of those players keyed Tampa Bay’s run to a World Series in 2008.
Here’s how I rank the Twins’ offseason needs at this point:
1. Third base/second base addition (Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Joe Crede)
3. Veteran "innings eater" starting pitcher (Jarrod Washburn)
Too bad about Denny Hecker‘s problems. Thome makes a great pitchman too.