The Toronto Blue Jays released slumping designated hitter Frank Thomas Sunday, cutting the 19-year veteran loose one day after he was angry for being taken out of the lineup.
General manager J.P. Ricciardi said he and Thomas came to “a mutual agreement” after meeting in the clubhouse early Sunday.
“Our best opportunity is to put other guys in the lineup at this point,” Ricciardi said. “Obviously, reduced playing time is not something that he was interested in. In order to let him go forward and get on with his career, I think it’s fair to do it at this point.”
The move leaves the Blue Jays on the hook for the remainder of the two-year $18-million contract the 39-year-old Thomas signed in November 2006.
Thomas was hitless in his past 13 at-bats and had gone 4-for-35 since homering in three straight games April 5-8. Known as a slow starter, he batted .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs for Toronto this season.
Last season, Thomas batted .277, leading the team with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs.
“I don’t know that we have the luxury of waiting two to three months for somebody to kick in because we can’t let this league or this division get away from us,” Ricciardi said.
A team, if it wants to stay in the pennant race, has to often be ruthless in its personnel decisions. John Smith won you 18 games last year, but if he can’t get anyone out this year, a team needs to move quickly or watch a season slip by. This philosophy worked wonders for Casey Stengel with the 1950′s Yankess. Look at the pitching staffs of the Yankees and you’ll see a consistent pattern of pitchers falling out of favor with Casey. Bob Grim, Tom Sturdivant, Johnny Kucks, and more would have a good year one year, and be out of the rotation or even traded the next.
Thomas’ actions and remarks show he is concerned only for himself. He refused to shake the hands of his teammates after the game on Saturday. That isn’t a classy move.
Frank Thomas was a great hitter, maybe still is. If Thomas can still produce, he’ll find employment fast enough.
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