The prodigal son returns: Why Jim Thome signing is great for Philadelphia
After Jim Thome hit his 600th home run last year, he took time out to specifically thank two people. One person was his mother, who in recent years had passed away from cancer, and the other was Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. According to Thome, Charlie has had a father-like impact on his life ever since he was an up-and-coming prospect in the Indians farm system. “Charlie has been very special to me throughout my career. I dedicated a lot of those home runs to him because he’s been there since Day One with a lot of confidence (during) a lot of times of struggling,” Thome stated after the home run was hit.
Because of this bond, it is not very surprising that Thome has reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies to play, once again, for Charlie Manuel. This signing could not come at a better time for Philadelphia, which faces many offseason questions, and, after early exits the past two years, is seeing the window close more and more each year.
Thome brings a sense of professionalism and a complete love for the game he’s paid to play. He is looked at by most baseball fans as the perfect teammate. The “old school” ballplayer who could play in any era and still be successful. He is someone who only played three short years with the Phillies, but he is a huge chapter in the story of the club.
With that being said here are the top reasons why bringing Thome back makes sense:
- Thome was the foundation the franchise’s current success was built on. He was the first big free-agent signing that came to Philadelphia, and he served as a bridge between the losing baseball of the past and the anticipated success of the future. He was the face of the franchise when Citizens Bank Park opened and is still a beloved figure in Philadelphia sports.
- Thome brings veteran leadership. He knows how Manuel likes to get things done, and he may be more open to showing younger players all he has learned. He could essentially be Manuel’s right-hand man in the clubhouse.
- He will come in handy as a platoon first baseman with John Mayberry until Ryan Howard is fully healed from the injury that expects to have him miss the first few months of the season. Thome cannot play first base everyday anymore, but he would be a huge help in a platoon role.
- Thome brings a power left-handed bat off of the bench for the Phillies. A huge upgrade over last year.
- His reported salary is a steal! The Phils are basically signing him for a Pat’s Cheesesteak and a box of tastykakes. (He is making less than back-up catcher Brian Schneider and Ross Gload both made last year)
- Thome has a very close relationship with another player that Philadelphia has interest in, Michael Cuddyer. In an ideal world, this relationship would bring Cuddyer to Philly to play along with his close friend and fill the other huge need for the Phils (Cuddyer plays first base, third base and outfield, and is known to be a hitter that works the count).
- Thome is respected by Manuel, and his presense may bring Charlie back to his batting-coach roots and allow him to not be as complacent as he’s been since the 2008 World Series win.
- Thome could be setting himself up nicely for a spot on Manuel’s coaching staff in the future.
- With Thome coming back, and a couple of other signings, it helps fix holes for the Phillies. Perhaps they will convince Thome’s former teammate Jimmy Rollins to come back at a discount and finish what he and Thome started years before.
- It’s a classic story of the aged, respected veteran coming back to make one final run at a title he never got with the coach that he has always loved. Why can’t it happen?