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Maybe Frank Thomas Is an ‘I Guy’

I’m really shocked at what transpired over the weekend between Frank Thomas and the Blue Jays. On Saturday, the Big Hurt was informed he would be benched for the game and that he would be sharing at-bats at the DH position over the rest of the season. Needless to say, Thomas was not wild about splitting time, not just because it wouldn’t allow him to produce, but also because it would keep him from reaching a $10 million option which kicks in for 2009 if he reached 376 plate appearances. After doing some bitching and not shaking hands with teammates following Saturday’s win, many people woke up to the news that the Blue Jays had released the troubled slugger on Sunday. There’s a lot to be said about this subject, and most of it won’t be easy considering how complimentary I was of Thomas recently.

From Toronto’s perspective, even if they wanted to switch up the DH position and platoon Matt Stairs with Thomas for financial reasons, it was completely within their right to do so. Remember, the problem only began because Frank wasn’t hitting up to snuff. Had Frank’s production been better, the Blue Jays would only be too happy to play him every day and pay for his option in 2009. But considering Frank wasn’t doing too well, it’s completely within their right to change it up and throw someone else out there who might produce a bit — they’re trying to win games.

Now from Frank’s perspective, I understand where he’s pissed. If he were just being benched for one day, then that’s reasonable. But if he was told he’d be sitting on a regular basis, then yeah, that appears to be a financially motivated move that would upset me. If you’re a ballplayer, particularly a proven one who’s struggling, you’re not going to break out of a slump by riding pine — you need to get more at-bats. It’s no wonder Frank wants more at-bats, so I can understand why he’d be upset. But here’s the thing: some guys take these moves like team players, and some take them selfishly. Since it’s a business, I have no problem with Frank wanting to represent his best interests of seeking playing time elsewhere. At the same time, it’s also a team sport, which makes Frank a bad teammate who is unwilling to make the most of his situation and help his club. Now I think I know what Kenny Williams was talking about when he called out Frank. Thomas is a great player, but he seems like a poor teammate.



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  • Ace

    I think it goes beyond the money. In my opinion part of the complaining from Thomas was probably triggered by the realization that it’s not his game anymore. He’s being moved aside for younger players. If Thomas isn’t producing, then a team would rather use his spot to develop one of its young sluggers. And that’s how it’s going to be any team he goes to go. I’m not worried for him though, someone is going to sign him.

  • http://psamp.blogspot.com tecmo

    But it IS about the money, as far as the organization is concerned. Frank was due to hit some contract milestones just for getting a certain number of at bats this season. Frank is a notorious slow starter, and the Jays decided to use this year’s start as reason to keep Frank from reaching those plateaus, thus not having to pay the contract bonuses that would’ve kicked in. Why else would you choose Matt Stairs or some kid up from Triple-A over the Big Hurt?

    When you are one of 4 players in baseball history with a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks (along with Ott, Ruth and Williams), you have all right to be pissed when the organization screws you. I know Toronto needs their players to produce in order to keep up in the East, but the contract bonus situation really sours their side of the story.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Ace, I really don’t believe in good faith that the Blue Jays think a Rod Barajas/Matt Stairs DH platoon is more effective than Thomas. I really think it was financially motivated as Tecmo says.

  • http://baseballmastermind.com Alan Hull

    I’m calling it now, Hurt resigns with the A’s who make a decent run at the AL West and the Jays sign Barry to make a decent run at the AL East. My one reservation is, if the Jays released Hurt for character, why go sign the Anti-Character, himself.

  • Ace

    I was writing from Frank Thomas’ side to rationalize his anger at being benched. It was more than just the money. From the Jays’ side, of course it’s about the money. But for Frank, I think it wasn’t just that he wasn’t gonna get that bonus. Ya that was a big part of it, but it wasn’t the only thing. This is of course my opinion, i dunno what’s goin through his head. But just putting myself in his place, i wouldn’t want to leave a game i love so much no matter how old I am. Sorry, just wanted to clarify what I meant.

  • SpinMax

    I’m always in favour of bringing up a prospect versus signing a declining pro for 10 times the money. Why not use Adam Lind? Travis Snider would be a great replacement, he’s a masher.

    Detroit is in a situation right now where they’ll have to send down a hot SP in Galarraga in order to bring back Willis. WHY?! Let him keep going! So what if Willis or Robertson miss a couple starts, that’s just more rest for later in the year.

  • Gene

    There are valid financial arguments that have been made above on behalf of both sides.

    The bottom line is that Frank Thomas has no legitimate grounds for not shaking hands with his teammates after Saturday’s win. They were not involved in his dispute with management. Thus, he is obviously an “I” guy.

  • http://www.hghtruth.org/ HGH

    its better for player to not comment like this