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.