The Mockingbird

Dennis Thomas Released

with 29 comments

Well, that was a quick answer to how serious this benching was going to be. Even Wilner thought it was going to take a couple of weeks, but TSN is reporting that Thomas has been released. I’m sure we’ll hear more from both sides very, very soon.

Hat tip to Johnny Was of the Southpaw who pointed out this article in the Sun where Frank loses it just a bit, increasing his F-bomb total to 5 on the season:

“They do that after 16 games, after 60 at-bats. That’s bulls—. We all know what’s behind this. What else could be behind this but the money?”

“What the f— is that, with my track record, they know what I can do,” Thomas said. “I tried to be the nice guy, the gentleman. I’ve kept my mouth shut.

“But I know I can hit. One good week and I’d be back on top. I know I haven’t hit the ball that well but I’m not the only f—ing player. Look at (Gary) Sheffield with Detroit, (David) Ortiz with Boston. I know I can hit, that I can get on fire.”

Whether you like this move or not, that pretty much sums it up. If you buy the ridiculous B.S. from J.P. that the only goal here is for more production out of the DH spot, turn back the calendar one year and then give yourself a slap.

Written by halejon

April 20, 2008 at 11:14 am

Posted in Seriousness

29 Responses

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  1. When we first read about this on mlb.com yesterday, he seemed miffed. But the Sun article today had multiple profanity-filled quotes (f bombs and s bombs, not really the Big Hurt’s style), so I guess he was livid. If there was no way to work things out, I guess it was the right move to pull the bandaid off quickly.

    johnny was

    April 20, 2008 at 11:45 am

  2. holy shit. i’m not sure i agree with this move. say all you want about his slow start this year. he did the exact same thing last year and ended up being our best hitter when it was all said and done…

    strange, strange move…why start the season with him? like johnny said though, at least it was a swift move and thomas will not become a clubhouse cancer…but, man, i thought he was going to help us make the playoffs this year…very, very weird…

    i don’t think this is any way to treat a hall-of-famer…

    navin vaswani

    April 20, 2008 at 11:48 am

  3. Yeah it seems like a pretty crappy move, but I guess I can see why they wouldn’t want him next year. A real slap in the face would be to sign Barry Bonds.

    Sheldon

    April 20, 2008 at 11:58 am

  4. I was just thinking about that Bonds thing. Especially after going all high-road:

    They also wondered specifically how it would look vis à vis Thomas, one of two players who actually co-operated with the Mitchell Report. For Thomas to lose his job to the poster child for the steroid era – at least the post-Mark McGwire and pre-Roger Clemens poster child – would have sent a terrible message.

    http://www.thestar.com/Sports/Baseball/article/308042

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

  5. About why starting the season with him- all I can think is that it was calculated. They knew he was going to do this again, and now they might be able to justify it. Releasing him in the offseason would have been flat out ridiculous, but now it’s an argument over how significant 60 admittedly dreadful AB are.

    I agree with the band-aid theory. Once you’ve stepped in this mess, get over it quick. The public announcement of his benching was really the death knell unless they were just kidding. Thomas is going to be a disaster part time both on and off the field. Again, I can’t help but think if the was it was done was calculated to offend his pride. When he says at the end of the Sun article “well why don’t they just release me”, I can just hear the lawyers give out a collective sigh of relief.

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

  6. i do understand that it is all about money…but still…i agree with frank, he can help this team

    navin vaswani

    April 20, 2008 at 12:27 pm

  7. but thomas makes a good point about thome and sheffield…it’s not like he’s the only DH stinking up the joint…

    i was serious in my belief that the jays would contend this year…and they just removed 27 home runs and 95 rbis from their lineup…sure, lind is tearing it up in AAA and Rolen is on the mend, but what if Rolen gets injured again? What if Stairs struggles? Stewart hasn’t been hitting that well, and Barajas isn’t going to keep his average above .300…and if Lind comes up and swings at every god damn pitch he sees again, i’m going to be pissed…

    navin vaswani

    April 20, 2008 at 12:32 pm

  8. I don’t see the whole “this isn’t a classy move, it’s not any way to treat a HOF’er…” angle. The Jays can’t afford to get too far behind the Sox and Yanks, and if you bench FT he’s going to be all pissy and moody. What should they have done? And what difference does it make if he’s a Hall of Famer? I think Frank has shown he is not exactly a class act either.

    Marc

    April 20, 2008 at 4:28 pm

  9. Ok, forget the hall of fame. I just mention that because unless something has changed, you know that at the end of the year he’s going to put up numbers somewhere in line (with a little decline) with his amazing career. This isn’t a Reed Johnson that could just as likely be a .230 hitter as anything.

    But who are they going to get more production out of at DH? Rod Barajas? I’m not going to say they they should have, but they certainly could have done what you usually do when someone- especially someone notorious for slow starts- slumps for 60 at bats. Ride it out. Falling behind the Yankees now isn’t any less damaging than not being able to keep up down the stretch because you don’t have a guy putting up a 1.000 OPS at DH.

    As far as his character, Frank has been top notch his entire time here. I don’t blame him at all for reacting how he has (and he didn’t even say anything that terrible except admit that he was pissed off) when the team has either lost faith in him way too early or intentionally screwed him out of 10 million bucks. Imagine David Ortiz was told that was going to be benched for his much worse play so far. Think he’d smile and say whatever is best for the team is fine with him?

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  10. Although, to look at it from the management perspective, Frank’s slump is a lot different from last year. The reality is not that he isn’t able to get around on 95mph pitches, but that he seems to be losing the location of them at the plate a lot. One of the Big Hurt’s major values along with his power was his eye; the ability to work counts and cut at good pitches. He’s not hitting the gaps, and at least two of the three HRs have come off of candy pitches (a changeup left up in the zone, and a 95mph heater with no break high in his wheelhouse).

    Time will only tell if this is a good thing, but I have the feeling that Denbo might have been an element. Frank’s approach at the plate hasn’t been good. He’s drawn walks by pitchers keeping away from him, but he’s made a lot of strike outs on obviously misjudged pitches. With a 10M vested option and the real possibility of an actual decline as opposed to a slump, I can understand it, whether I agree with it or not.

    So, the question is what moving forward? Personally, I say you activate Lind, move Stairs to the all but official DH spot, and use Stewart as your OF relief and pitch hitting option. Shake the lineup down for a while and see what potential big bats are in for a major bargin in the DH role as a precaution.

    Bryant Telfer

    April 20, 2008 at 8:10 pm

  11. I guess – ideally – we would have brought up Lind, made Stairs the DH against righties and Thomas the DH against lefties. But that ridiculous plate appearance trigger would have had him going berserk because he wasn’t going to see 370 at bats against them this year. With quite a number of DH spots locked up last year (Ortiz, Giambi, Hafner, Thome and, uh, Vidro) it was kind of dumb for both sides to put in that slop about the third year. I’m utterly amazed that two years, 18 million of superior Canadian currency in the best city in North America (not a homer; I live in Denver) wasn’t good enough for Thomas as he entered his forties.

    Ice Cream Jonsey

    April 20, 2008 at 9:15 pm

  12. After this move, I have to admit I’m pining, even jonesing, at the thought of signing Baseball’s Home Run King, Barry Lamar Bonds (By the way, who’s Dennis Thomas?). The Thomas situation seemed inevitable after the win on Saturday. So Ricciardi saved Gibbons from a beat down from Thomas. Thomas is no Ted Lilly.

    As an intelligent Jays fan, Barry Bonds would be an Excellent fit for the Jays for the rest of the year. A Left handed, Designated Hitter, hitting at the 4 or 5, where home, right, right centre field is 328 – 400 ft. But of course, with every other Major league team, it’s the Barry Bonds persona that drives everyone away.

    This is where the TORONTO, Blue Jays, becomes an ideal place (if there is one) for Bonds. And not just Barry Bonds, the baseball player. Even Barry Bonds, the persona. In Toronto, Bonds would provide instant credibility, a bat (obviously) and publicitie$. As well, Toronto is perceived to be an open tolerant city. In Canada to boot. So the media attention (which is one of the biggest factors of the Barry Bonds Pandora Box) would seem to be more tolerant, the Jays would gain publicity and attention, and maybe the baseball world will give a #### that Toronto still has a team.
    Hey, any publicity is good publicity, right?

    A slap in the face to Thomas and the post-steroids era? That is a pretty damn good point. But – this is the question you have to answer – is it win at all costs? The message of releasing Thomas no doubt proves the “sense of urgency” everyone was talking about. Signing Bonds would add to that, and I truly believe J.P. Ricciardi would do this, even possibly to save his job. No doubt Bonds, the Home Run King, one of the best players to ever play the game, would be an excellent addition. But of course, it is message you want to send.

    As for Mr. Thomas, maybe hitting coach Gary Denbo sees something that is not just a “typical” Frank Thomas slow start. Well that, and money. As for the cancer comments, I didn’t think Thomas would be that kind of guy, seeing him in the media, but it wouldn’t surprise me the least. Gibbons has a history of dealing with these problems, and Thomas had that break up with Chicago. Anyone want to bet Ricciardi will join Kenny Williams on the Thomas hitlist?

    Coincidentally, Thomas is now the one who would now seem to be a fit (lesser skill set, but better attitude fit than Bonds) for the young Tampa Bay Rays. All I can say is that the rumour mill will be getting quite a work out. Seattle? Minnesota? Oakland? Texas?

    Anyways, so long to Frank Thomas. Toronto may miss you a little, but you sir were no Dave Winfield.

    Tito Toronto

    April 20, 2008 at 9:33 pm

  13. That’s pretty much what they offered him, 2-3 times a week probably whenever a lefty came to town. Wouldn’t have been a bad platoon, really. They wouldn’t have room for Lind once Rolen comes back, though.

    The Canadian dollar was still under 90 cents American when he signed that contract…he was going to get 2/9 for sure so the Jays (as usual) had to sweeten the deal with something. I think it’s more the decade and a half out of the playoffs that scares players off from Toronto these days than the town. This isn’t going to help…

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  14. The reason that the Jays are able to get away with this move is the resurgence of Matt Stairs. Bill James is on record saying that Stairs might have been a hall of famer if he hadn’t started out at second base and thus been given more at-bats when he was young. Bottom line, this is a cost-saving move that won’t hurt the Jays if Lind shows he can hit at the major league level.

    Matthew

    April 20, 2008 at 10:21 pm

  15. But we’re already relying on Stairs for a lot of at bats…I love the guy (and I think Mulliniks was the first one to find that Bill James article) but him topping an .800 OPS over a full season at DH is a stretch. I agree it’s all about Lind, but him topping Thomas’ numbers would be a heck of a breakout season, and if anyone gets injured they’re screwed. Cost saving, yes. But does this really make the team better?

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 11:06 pm

  16. Tito:

    Dennis Thomas is from a post a few back…ESPN messed up and for some reason had that name next to his name in a quote. I thought it was hilariously random and was looking forward to referring to him as that for the rest of the season. Boo.

    I think Toronto is known for being tolerant to people from different backgrounds. Tolerating complete and utter assholes is another matter entirely. If anything, he might rub the stereotypical polite Canadian the wrong way. I’m not sure it would be good publicity- I know my dad stopped watching the Jays when they started renting sworn enemies like Morris and Henderson for the playoffs. As for the rest of the world, Thomas was a pretty credible name, too. They’ll realize that Toronto has a team when they start competing, no sooner.

    Win at all costs is an interesting question…I think a lot of Toronto fans are so desperate after 14 years that the answer is yes. I’m not sure. I’d love to see an playoff game again in my lifetime, but I keep imagining the crowd rising to it’s feet and chanting BAR-EE BAR-EEE BAR-EEEEEE in a crucial situation and I’m just not sure I could do it without puking.

    I hope Denbo saw something…that was certainly implied in one of the reports. I think it’s much more likely they said for 10 mil you can damn well find something wrong with him, though.

    halejon

    April 20, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  17. It’s true, Big Frank could maybe get hot and hit a few out of the park. But he could hardly trot the bases, never mind run. And he’d gotten stone cold. OK, he’ll probably snap out of it and come up with a couple of good months like he did last season. But those two months were down the back end when the team had no chance at all and injuries had killed us. I’m no fan of Ricciardi, but he did the right thing here for a change. Let the guy go. Maybe he’ll hit for another team but he sure wasn’t hitting for us. And no pitcher was giving V-Dub anything at all to hit because they couldn’t wait to get at Thomas and his strikeouts. You need a Designated Hitter to, you know, hit.

    I don’t think Barry Bonds is coming to TO any time shortly. Ricciardi got rid of Thomas so fast because he could turn into a major clubhouse distraction. Bonds wouldn’t just be a distraction. The guy is a 3-ringed circus in a box. I think the team will go outside and look for someone–probably a leftie. But I’d be amazed if it was Bonds.

    Isabella

    April 21, 2008 at 12:39 am

  18. Do we need him to run if he can put up a 1.000 OPS for a couple of months on crutches? I’m not a fan of the “he only hit when the season was over anyway” argument. He hit with Oakland when they were in a pennant race in August. He hit with Toronto when for no fault of his own when they were out of the race in August. If I were a compulsive gambler, I’d bet he was going to do it again.

    What lefties are available? Anyone any good is going to cost us Lind, and then well…may as play Lind, especially since $$$ seems to be the main issue (even with Bonds).

    halejon

    April 21, 2008 at 2:49 am

  19. People have said that it’s no different than Thome and Sheffield’s slow start. I disagree. Chicago’s out of the race (or will be before long), Detroit has other power sources so they can be a bit more patient, and no one is really running away with the central anytime soon.

    It’s different in the east. With Big Papi just coming out of a drought and the Yank’s pitching questions, Toronto’s time is now. If they wait for their cleanup hitter to only start cleaning up in May, the division will be loooong gone.

    Kudos to JP for doing the right thing. Rod Barajas may not be David Ortiz, but he’ll hit better than .120 until Adam Lind can come up.

    Onwards and upwards, people.

    ron

    April 21, 2008 at 8:00 am

  20. Ricciardi’s big problem is that he’s reactive not proactive. He signs guys who have had big seasons and hopes they’ll have big seasons again. He doesn’t seem to have an instinct for the player who is just coming into a big season. He’s not alone in that, but he’s one of the worst offenders. Thomas had had a great season in Oakland, but he was getting older and he couldn’t run at all. It’s true, he might have had another great season in TO, but the terms of his deal absolutely handcuffed Gibbons who was stuck because Thomas had to play every day. Sure, he did ok last season, and the team’s lack of production wasn’t his fault. But that was last season. This season he just looked purely uncomfortable at the plate. He started out well, and I thought that maybe he was in for another banner year. But then he seemed to kind of collapse. Even the way he stood looked different. I’m thinking he is playing with some kind of small tweak or injury. Either way, we’re better off without him and we can spend his $10M better next year.

    Isabella

    April 21, 2008 at 9:55 am

  21. I’ll ask again…what does it matter when we get the production? From this point on last year Thomas was GREAT. It will take a rookie of the year (even though he’s not eligible) smashing breakout-type of a season for Lind to give us that – and we’re also counting on Stewart and Lind not falling apart or getting injured because he’s the only offensive backup above AA we have.

    If we’re so worried about being in first in May, why not release A.J. Burnett and throw our prospect who’s dominating AAA out there? Because that would be a short-sighted panic move, that’s why.

    halejon

    April 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

  22. Isabella:

    I guess you’re referring to Wells, right? I would say a majority of J.P’s recent acquisitions have had pretty decent breakout seasons as soon as they got here. Lyle had a career year. Accardo had a huge season, Ryan put up one of the best seasons from a closer ever. Stairs had an absurd season at his age. I know what you’re saying- we definitely bought high on Thomas and J.P. isn’t a genius scrap heaper like Billy Beane, but who is?

    halejon

    April 21, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  23. Thomas didn’t OPS 1.000 over a period of a couple months last year, or even for a single month. He had three months (June, August, September) of .950 and three (April, May, July) of .800 or below. From this point out last year, he had his worst month of the season (May) ahead of him still.

    Torgen

    April 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

  24. Thanks for dotting the i’s, but what’s your point? Those are great numbers from here on, even if it wasn’t all rosy.

    halejon

    April 21, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  25. Well if we’re assuming old players maintain their stats, then we definitely want Stairs in the DH slot instead of Frank, considering his 60 more points of OPS last year.

    Torgen

    April 21, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  26. I don’t think sarcasm and stats mix so well…I didn’t say last year proved Frank is a sure thing this year- but obviously he has a bit more of a track record and a pattern of rebounding than Stairs does of putting up the numbers he did last year.

    I would be fine with Stairs DH’ing instead of Thomas to save 10 million bucks- if he wasn’t already getting as many AB as he can handle as our LF against righties. It’s Lind who will have to take up the slack. Love the kid, but an 875 (ok, minus inevitable decline) OPS from him would be an absolute dream.

    halejon

    April 21, 2008 at 7:13 pm

  27. Frank Thomas’s April OPS/Season OPS by year:
    2002: .850/.833
    2003: .927/.952
    2004: 1.065/.997 (Injured in July)
    2005: DNP/.905 (Injured to start and finish)
    2006: .669/.926
    2007: .793/.857
    So actually this whole “notorious slow starter” stuff seems like a load of bunk. Looks like taking a whole month or more to get hot is actually a recent development, and even in ’06 it didn’t take until June to heat up, nor did he have another poor month in July.

    Torgen

    April 21, 2008 at 8:41 pm

  28. Bastian….is that you???

    Jun

    April 21, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  29. Bryant:

    Took me a while to look it up, but I dunno…Thomas has been excellent so far at not chasing, both with 2 strikes and pitches out of the zone. He’s gone after under 10% of pitches out of the zone, which is ridiculous. Of course that might have something to do with not swinging at lot as he seems to do early in the year as well. And I never would have guessed this, but he’s also been terrible on offspeed pitches. It looks like he can’t put them in play, whereas he makes weak contact and a lot of outs on fastballs. Overall though I would say it’s almost uncanny how much his breakdown this April looks like last May.

    Yah, those two pitches from Delcarmen were pretty much gifts…Without two big swings his season so far would be hilariously, atrociously bad instead of just bad. He was saying he’d been smoking a bunch of liners right at people the last week or so- I can think of one, I think.🙂

    halejon

    April 22, 2008 at 3:15 am


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