Friday, March 25, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Jim Thome / Dodgers

I am a big Jim Thome fan. He signed as a free agent with the Phillies following the 2002 season, when basically no one wanted to play in Philadelphia. In my opinion, that was the first step in the revival of the franchise. He hit 47 home runs in his first season with the Phillies to finish one behind Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's single-season team record of 48.

He was the primary star for the Phillies as they moved into Citizen's Bank Ballpark in 2004. He hit his 400th career HR as a member of the Phils. Many Phils fans feel like he blocked Ryan Howard from getting to majors sooner, but I like to think he set the table for the golden age of Phillies baseball. I believe paved the way for Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins as the current championship core of Phils. Also, there is no way Charlie Manuel would be the manager of the Phillies if it wasn't for Jim Thome. When he was eventually traded to the White Sox, I was sad to see him go, but I was happy he would get a chance to be a DH and extend his career.

When he was traded to the LA Dodgers at the deadline in 2009, I was kind of surprised. He had not played a single defensive inning on the field since 2007. Why would a National League team like the Dodgers want an aging vet with no defensive skills? As expected, he never got a chance to put on his glove -- his only appearances with the Dodgers were as a pinch hitter. He had four hits in seventeen at-bats with the Dodgers. In a strange twist of fate, the Phillies knocked the Dodgers out in the playoffs, ending his short stay in LA.

Heading into the 2011 season (with the Twins) he is ranked 8th in baseball history with 589 home runs. His date with Cooperstown awaits.


White Sox Cards said...

I was really rooting for the Dodgers that year to win it all.

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