Sunday, April 20, 2008

Evaluation Nation

On one side, you have Big Hurt Frank Thomas, the team leader for Toronto last year in HRs and RBIs, and one of only four players in MLB history with a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks. (Bonds hit .298, the slacker.) He's pissed off that he's grabbing bench for the immortal Matt Stairs, and thinks it's all about his contract. If Thomas gets to 376 plate appearances in 2008, the Jays are on the hook for a $10 million option.

On the other, you have the Jays, looking at a guy who is 4 for his last 35, and hitting .167 for the year. At 8-9, the Jays are 2 games back from the wild card and 2.5 out from the division, so this is the part of the season that counts as critical for them. As soon as the Yankees do their usual warm weather rush, they'll be toast. (See the last 10 years of MLB+ for an example.)

Now, you and I have no idea if the Jays are screwing Thomas over the contract, or just trying to win games. But we do know that by making his payday such an obvious clock strategy, they are setting themselves up for misery. Why not make things more involved and accurate using more advanced statistics -- per se, he's got to achieve a certain OPS to qualify? Or rank in the top X% of offensive players in the AL?

That way, the player isn't afraid of the occasional day off, and the team isn't afraid of getting suckered into a big bad deal.

But then again, this is an organization that traded for Scott Rolen, signed AJ Burnett to big dollars, and was last relevant back when Kurt Cobain drew breath, so maybe I'm just asking too much...

Update -- And just that quickly, the Jays up and released him. Here's your up-to-the-minute Epic Drop that covers it in further detail.

1 comment:

tracer bullet said...

Frank Thomas is still in the league? I thought he was dead.