Jim Thome might reenter the AL Central next year, but with the Chicago White Sox instead of the Cleveland Indians. Thome, who was injured most of last year while managing a pathetic .207 average with 7 HRs and 30 RBI. Thome is now 35 and looks like another familiar slugger (Mo Vaughn) who vanished after signing a big contract. Will a different scenario change things? Was it worth it to trade Aaron Rowand?
Rowand has emerged into a solid hitter with some speed and run-scoring abilities at the top of the lineup. 2005 was a bad year compared to his 2004 breakout season in which he hit .310 with 24 HRs, 69 RBIs, and scored 94 runs. He isn't a great center fielder, but a stable part of the world-champion's lineup.
Thome, on the other hand, seems to be fading away. After his career-year with the Indians in 2002, in which he hit 52 HRs, had 118 RBIs, batted .304, and owned a 1.122 OPS, Thome has slipped little by little with each season. He, of course, still has the potential to hit home-runs, but Thome looks like the stereotypical steroids user who now is readjusting. The worst-case scenario for the Twins seems fairly likely. Even if he is terrible, he'll probably show up at the Metrodome and cream homers off of our control pitchers the way he did for 12 years in Cleveland.
The deal is final, as the players need to take physicals first to complete it. But, if it goes through, it may be bad news for both the White Sox and the Twins. Thome probably will beat up on the Twins, but don't expect too much more than a .250 average (or even less) with 25 HRs and 80 RBIs. He'll be the new Carl Everett for the team, so he probably won't be a game-changing slugger the way he used to be. On the other hand, Cleveland will remain the rising star of the AL Central, even with this big trade.