Sunday, 20 April 2008

Thomas Mad, Thomas Released

I've been pretty busy lately, and I'll admit I haven't been following much Jays news. Ok, I knew Thomas was pretty pissed, but imagine my surprise today at work when I find Thomas has been released.

There's really nothing I can add to the situation that hasn't already been said. But I wouldn't be doing my duty (haha) if I didn't at least weigh in on the situation. So with that in mind....

Thomas' bat speed may have declined. I don't know that for sure - maybe it did, maybe it didn't. That isn't the issue to me. I think he could have eventually hit his way out of it, as he has the past few years. Yesterday, I thought benching him was a brilliant tactic to light a fire under the slugger's bulky ass. Piss him off enough that he'll get aggressive, and crush the first pitch he sees into the CF windows.

What I do know, is that Thomas' tendencies, and overall game plan prevented him from coming out of a slump. I love how he's still got terrific discipline, an elite batting eye, capable of taking a ton of pitches and getting into hitters counts. The problem, is that pitchers were exploiting his patience by getting ahead in the count knowing he would not attack the first pitch. The Texas game, for example, where Padilla threw 2 fastballs down the middle, as Frank took, being patient. Then he strikes out on one out of the zone, in a pitchers count.

You see, when you're in a slump, taking pitches is the worst possible outcome. Teams aren't afraid of you, and get ahead in the count. Once this happens, you're down 0-1, 0-2, 1-2, and you feel like the at bat is over. By not being aggressive, and getting behind in the count, Thomas was always hitting in a brutal situation, where he'd never get a pitch to hit.

Let me say that I agree 100% with benching a player who isn't performing. The message it sent was play or rot on the bench, and it's a wake up call to a team that needed one. So kudos on JP & Gibbons for having the cohones to do it.

But releasing Thomas? I don't know. I just don't know yet. It helps the defense if Lind is called up to play LF. Bad as he may be, he's better than Stairs. It helps the bench - when Thomas is off we're essentially down a position player, as he can't play in the field. It probably gives the team more balance against RHP, as Thomas only hit to the tune of a 796 OPS vs RHP, so odds are even Stairs would be a bit of an improvement going forward on offense. Frank was a lefty killer, and the Jays should still be ok against lefties. And if they're not, well, I'd rather be strong against RHP, which is 75% of the leagues pitching.

I think earlier in the blog, Thomas was mentioned as a clubhouse cancer. Here's Wells' take on the situation:

Center fielder Vernon Wells praised management for finding a quick resolution to the situation.

“I think it’s better for (Thomas), too,” Wells said. “He gets a chance to have more time to possibly pick up with another team, with us it may give some of our younger guys a chance to come up.

“We haven’t been the best team so far this season. We definitely have some improvements to make.”

Sounds like the team may be better off without Thomas, though I may be reading too much into it.

Still, I hope this becomes a defining moment for the team, which will bring them together and also act as a wake up call that poor performance will be be tolerated by no one. For a team that underpeforms like no other, and plays down to their competition, this is a huge opportunity for the Jays. I really hope this brings everyone together, and ends up becoming a positive through an extended winning streak, one for which the Jays haven't put together in years.

I hope Thomas signs with a team and shows that he can still perform, but more importantly, I hope that the Jays are a better team at the end of the day.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vernon might just be happy that he won't get pitched around for the easy out that is Thomas - I think the sinkhole that Thomas represented for the last week or two was affecting the pitches that Vernon saw.