Big Hurt moved to the bench

TORONTO — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons won’t come out and say it, but Frank Thomas will. Being left out of the starting lineup for Saturday’s game isn’t a one-time deal for Thomas. He’s been told that he could be on the bench for a while.

“Basically, I’ve been told that I’m not going to be in that lineup,” Thomas told MLB.com on Saturday. “Gibby told me that this morning. I see it as something else is going on. We’ll see how that plays out.

“You know what’s going on and I know what’s going on. We’ll see how it plays out. I’m just a little frustrated right now. There are some things going on around here this year that I haven’t been happy about.”

Thomas was likely referring to his contract situation. If he reaches 304 more plate appearances this season, he has a $10 million option for 2009 that will vest. Thomas’ struggles may very be just another slow start, but you can bet Toronto’s higher ups are a little wary with that option hanging over their heads.

There are some within Toronto’s organization who have expressed concern that this could be a sign of Thomas being in decline production wise. Recently, he’s started crouching more in his stance, which could indicate that he’s trying to cheat some with his swing in order to catch up to pitches. Thomas downplayed any significance with the stance change.

“That’s nothing new,” he said. “Some days I’m up and some days I’m down. That’s just the way I do things.”

UPDATE — 6:13 p.m. ET: Just wrapping up here at the ball yard and thought I’d add a postgame update on the Thomas situation. I can neither confirm nor deny that Thomas was sitting on Toronto’s bench on Saturday, but no one saw him there. One place he definitely wasn’t was on the field with the team, shaking hands after the game. That’s not a good move. Looking at the situation, which has potential to become a huge distraction for a team that wants to contend, Thomas may be released in the near future. Now, that’s complete speculation on my part, but it would rid the Jays of having to worry about that $10 million option for 2009, which is something the team would probably want to avoid having to pick up. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few days. I will say this: Thomas is a Hall of Famer, hands down. He’s also been one of my favorite players I’ve ever covered as a reporter. I am slightly bias, through, since I grew up in Chicago when he was pretty much the Michael Jordan of baseball. Still, his production is declining. Yes, there’s a track record there for the slow starts, but it’s looked more and more this year like he’s been struggling to catch up to pitches. If this year winds up being his last one in the bigs, he’s had a tremendous career.

Today’s lineups:

DETROIT (6-11) at TORONTO (8-9)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

TIGERS
Clete Thomas, CF
Jacques Jones, LF
Gary Sheffield, DH
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Carlos Guillen, 1B
Edgar Renteria, SS
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Ryan Raburn, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Jeremy Bonderman

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Aaron Hills, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
*Joe Inglett, LF

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan

*Shannon Stewart was a late scratch

27 Comments

I do agree with benching Frank Thomas; it’s about time we start shaking up this lineup. Obviously, management does not want to have his $10 million dollar option kick in next year and I totally agree with that. Whether Frank is done or not is the issue; although the way Texas pitched him, there is at least some evidence he might be.

On the other hand, benching him will obviously make him quite unhappy and cause a cancer in the locker room. This is not the way to win a playoff spot. My take is, let’s bite the bullet and dump him now, instead of letting this sit and grow into something ugly. We likely won’t be able to trade him unless we sign on for at least 50-75% of his salary for this year and next. Seems to me, it will be lower cost and better to simply release him. That way we’re only responsible for his 2008 salary which we’d have to pay anyway. In addition, it frees up a spot in the roster immediately instead of 2-3 weeks from now.

We need to call up Lind and platoon him in left field with Stewart-who’s also struggling against right handers (.174). Play Lind against righties and Stewart against lefties, DH Stairs and wave goodbye to Thomas. Lind is hitting .424BA/.472OBP/ .818 SLG against Rh’s. Stewart is hitting .364BA/.464OBP/.545 SLG against Lf’s.

Of point of interest, one of the points stated in dumping Johnson for Stewart was Stewart was better against RH’s. Well, so far this year Stewart’s batting .174 against RH’s and our good friend Reed Johnson is .407.

Bases loaded no one out the only run was a walk by the pitcher this team stinks.
I agree get rid of Thomas he is already making noise and he will only cause a problem in the clubhouse.
abner should also go we will never make the playoffs with him as manager.Detroit has two on and no outs you can bet they will score.

I was originally excited when the blue jays signed Frank Thomas. But after watching him for the last couple years i understand why there were people in Chicago that wanted him out. Its one of the most frustrating things to go through when you watch the jays play and theres one out and men on base and frank comes up to the plate and grounds into another double play and doesn’t have any speed so can’t even make it close. The jays should release his big behind and get someone in there that can do more than swing and miss, hit the occasional home run, and ground out. Frank’s timing is always off then when its on it doesn’t last, he is not worth the disgusting amount of money we have to pay him and his only real skill is in making excuses. The Blue Jays should get rid of Thomas and get someone in there that doesn’t just swing for the fence and officially start playing small ball if they want any chance of contending for a play off spot. Its sad when it would be better to have Matt Stairs as your DH then a future hall of famer but thats the way it is and the blue jays need to accept release Thomas leave Lind in the minors to develop for next year and have Stairs and others be the DH.

scott

It doesn’t make sense to leave Lind in the minors, we would be 1 guy down if we dump Thomas. In addition, we could REALLY use Lind’s bat against RH’s instead of Stewart’s. Stairs can DH, play Lind against RH and Stewart against LH’s. So you’re aware, Lind has 3 hr’s against RH’s in 33 at bats, we could use that production.

Garry

The Thomas situation is where it is because of Abner. His contract calls for an automatic option for 2009 if he makes 1,000 plate appearances in 2007-2008. In 2007 Thomas made 531 appearances, meaning the option is guaranteed once he makes 469 more this year. The real question we should all ask is why did Thomas get so many appearances late last year, when we had no chance of making the playoffs. If he had been set down in August or September, cutting his apperances by 150, this wouldn’t be an issue now. Although his poor production would still be a problem, he certainly would be more tradeable and we’d probably be able to dump him and pick up 4-5 mill. of salary. Now we might be on the hook for 10-12 mill.

Another genius move by Abner.

Garry

I agree with you on the Reed Johnson issue; I think this offence misses him. Remember, we paid Johnson to leave.

Man was that double play pathetic. Isn’t that the 3rd time we’ve had guys on 3rd base with less than 2 outs and haven’t plated them.

McGowan has had enough take him out and let our great bullpen do the job lol.

I also would like to see Lind up here cut Thomas can they not just buy him out.

McGowan managed to hang in there; great outing. Let’s hope our guys get him some runs to win.

They can release him and pay him throgh the end of the year which amounts to the same thing.

G. You must be talking about another team this team cant hit.
I hope they hang in there I would like to see if BJ can do the job with a one run lead.

I wonder what happend to Harry potter.

Well maybe if J.P kept Reed Johnson, who is batting 375 right now, we would be getting some runs in!

RISP Stats Pre today’s game

MacDonald: .000
Stairs: .125
Scutaro: .154
Barajas: .200
Thomas: .200
Zaun: .211
Overbay: .214
Rios: .238
Inglett: .300
Wells: .333
Hill: .389
Eckstein: .471

BJ is back in a big way.

Its good to have him back. I think we ducked a bullet today though. I don’t think it’s often that Detroit is beaten when the opposing team gives up so many chances to bury them.

gsumner
If you want to bring Lind up from the minors we should just put all of our faith in him and not put him in a platoon with anybody else. He is young, good and deserves a starting spot. If the jays were to call Lind up you need to give him a starting job but i just can’t see that happening this year, so we should either bring him up and have Stewart be on the bench and fill in occasionally or leave him down. And until rolen gets healthy we can call someone up or sign someone to be another utility man.

Well, most of the pitchers we face are right handers, so Lind would play most of the time. Against right handers he’s batting .424 where Stewart is hitting .174. However, Stewart is hitting well against lefties, .364 so it’s a great platoon situation.

Fact is Stewart isn’t doing us any favors against right handed pitching and .174 BA/.269 OBP/.174 slg doesn’t get it done for a corner fielder.

I think its funny how Frank told the press ” I did my job”. Actually frank you did the very opposite..you stunk and now you stink even more. His only job is to go out there and hit…thats it and he hasnt done that at all. Im happy that the jays are finally willing to bite the 10 million dollar bullet and suck up there pride that FRANK THOMAS cannot help this team. Only Stairs can occupy that spot with maximum effectiveness. Good move

how is thomas doing against RH and LH…

I think we leave him out for some time…thomas is a professional player just get him a few atbats here and there…

If incase he goes into a platoon situation then I don’t think he would reach 304 atbats…maybe a platoon at DH with Stairs and platoon with Inglett and Stewart in the OF…
when rolen gets back then scutoro and Stewart in the outfeild….

I guess keeping Johnson was a good idea but there is a long season ahead of us…lets see what happens…

Oh and I am reading all the comments usually, just get too lazy to post…

I would be sorry to see big Frank go, but sooner or later the train comes to a stop. Even if he isn’t done, you just can’t leave a hole in the heart of the order for your first 50-60 games. If they decide to release Thomas, Joe Inglett is hot hot hot, so they could even carry an extra pitcher if they wanted to, instead of promoting Lind.
The extra $10mil next year would buy a good arm if AJ decides to walk.
Of course, keeping Stewart over Reed was a real winner, too, so who are we to rely on their judgement? They could take the $10 mil and spend it on another worn out mule.

Thomas was a great hitter in his prime but now he is to slow and he cant catch up to the fast ball he looks bad at the plate last night Stairs ran out an infield single Thomas would only have made it half way to first.

I think Lind should come up and we should cut Stewart he is to old and he has had groin problems before Inglett can help out in the field so can Scutaro.

Where is Robert Lee.
Hemgold.
Towers.
And the rest of you guys and galls

Congratulations, to the management of the Jays for releasing Frank Thomas. It was definately the right decision. Good luck to Frank Thomas, a true hall of famer who’s had a phenomenal career.

I think this is a bold and necassary move to release Frank Thomas. The Jays can’t afford another slow start if they have a shot at a Wild Card spot. Boston looks as if they’ll start distancing themselves already, so Toronto needs to start winning now as much as they do later on.
It also frees up salary for next year in order to find someone to replace Burnett if he opts-out. I liked Frank but when he’s struggling as much as he is, a change had to be made.
The next move, as some have suggested already, is to put Lind in a platoon with Shannon. The only question I have is if Lind struggles what then…..hope that Shannon can pick up the slack against righties, or try and sign Bonds for the rest of the year ?

Bonds would cost too much the jays have no money even though he would help the box office.
Letting Thomas go was a smart move it may have cost but in the long run it will pay off.

Great move on Toronto’s part in releasing the Big Hurt. You can’t have you Dh hitting .167, sure he has it the odd home run, but he is hurting the Jays with the bat more than helping them. Bring up Adam Lind and move Matt Stairs to the DH spot. Matt has done a great job hitting as a Jay, and Adam Lind will bring some much needed punch with his bat.
Frank’s best days are behind him, yes he is a slow starter and my still have a great year, but in this division can you reallly afford to wait on him. If you do, kiss the playoff chances good bye.

Worst thing Toronto coudl do in this situation is think about Barry ” Steriod Freak” Bonds. Not even J.P. could even consider that.

Maybe we can trade for Juan Rivera from the Angels. He’s not getting any atbats these days and he has some serious pop in that bat. His throwing arm isn’t too bad, too. He’s a free agent after this season, no strings attached there.
Anyway, we need some pop in that lineup, especially since Thomas is gone now and Rolen is hobbled.

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