Friday, January 27, 2006

The A's Sign Heavy Hitter Frank Thomas

Receiving news that has most likely come as rather a surprise for A's fans, Billy Beane has signed Frank Thomas as DH for the A's. Why this may be surprising is the fact that the A's were plagued with players on the DL for the year, and was sited as one of the major reasons why the A's struggled during last season. Or, as Beane puts it, "It turned out that we had one of the worst injury seasons we've had since I've been here and this is my 18th year." So, why would they sign Thomas, who in the past 2 years played a whopping total of 108 games, sidelined both times by a fracture in the left ankle. Ouch. However, let's look at his stats a little closer:

During that 108 games, he had a batting average of .245. Also during those games he had an OBP of .427, and scored 72 runs. That's impressive. Lets look at his OPS, which everyone seems to be talking about: .995, lets repeat that, .995. Yikes, higher than McGwire, Mantle, and DiMaggio, he rates 10th in baseball history. Wow, he's a DH dream come true. But what about those injuries? He's been plagued by injuries lately, and it seems we just dumped Durazo for injury related issues as well.

Here's what's been said about all the injury issues:
First off, he's going to be in DH mode, and his pay will be based on his performance, (half a mil starting pay) with extra bonuses (a total of $1.4 million in incentives for his left foot alone) for staying off the DL. Also bonuses for hitting a plate count of 550.
Also, Beane says "He has a very good chance of being ready in April. He believes he'll be ready in Spring Training, we're just taking a conservative approach mentally." (which means to me that Billy has his fingers crossed and is repeating 'please don't get hurt please don't get hurt' over and over in his head while they wrap Thomas in heavy foam padding and wheel him in a wheelchair from place to place.)
"Billy Beane's offseason reading has been nothing but medical reports. First, Milton Bradley's and now, Thomas." yeah, that's one mental health report, and one pack of left ankle X-rays. I'm sure that statement has one heavy ring of truth in it, and I am sure that Beane has been consulting numerous doctors regarding Thomas' health. Again, I am sure Beane has done his homework well.

What it seems to boil down to is that Beane was looking for the gold cap on a strong hitting lineup, and he was willing to gamble. I think he's found it with Thomas, and I am sure that Thomas will bring an enthusiasm for the team, and also be a driving force to help the A's go all the way in 2006 (something that I believe will quite possibly happen). Durazo's situation was slightly different, as he was more integral to the progress of the A's to the Playoffs, whereas Thomas is one of many strong hitters.

Here's hoping that Thomas has a great season with the A's and that he makes Beane's gamble pay off. If his ankle has healed then we've got a great hitter to finish our lineup, and it looks to be a great season overall. I've got some metal plate and a welder to help shore up that ankle if you want, Thomas, just give me a call.


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