I know, I know, people hate it when there is premature speculation (isn't there a pill for that these days?). But I'm wondering if the A's might've made a mistake in picking up Frank Thomas. The reason? I'm thinking that Mike Sweeney is just a better hitter right now and Thomas' presence has put Sweeney on the bench. Not only that, but perhaps Barry Bonds would've been the better fit because he can probably still play left field whereas Frank Thomas has no business being anywhere close to a glove.
Now before you all lash out at me, I understand that Bonds would've cost a lot more money and if all the media reports about Bonds are to be believed, he wouldn't have added much positive energy to the clubhouse. Bonds also would've created a similar situation that the A's have now with Cust, Sweeney, Barton and Thomas. They essentially have four designated hitters and two of them need to be in the field every night and one of them rides the pine.
If you look at their stats, Sweeney has been the better hitter this year. I think one of the major reasons Beane picked up Thomas was his plucky young A's weren't getting pop from anywhere and if Thomas has proven anything throughout his career, it's that the guy knows how to slug with the best in baseball. The problem is that he hasn't been slugging at all for the A's. He only has four extra base hits in 60 ABs and none of them have left the park. The chances are that this is probably a small sample size, but I'm wondering if Thomas is a better hitter overall at this stage in his career. Both Sweeney and Thomas are .300 hitters for their careers. Yet Thomas is going to be 40 on May 27th. Sweeney turns 35 in July.
Thomas may be a statistical aberration and not be declining as he hits his big 4-0 a la Bonds, but for how good he was with Toronto last season, he wasn't anywhere near as good as 2006 with Oakland.
Don't get me wrong. I don't blame Beane and company for taking a chance on a hitter with the credentials of Bonds. Hell, I even advocated for Thomas when he was sitting out there. But I just can't help but think that Mike Sweeney should be in the lineup every night unless he's injured (which might not take long given his past history). The other option would be to possibly send Daric Barton down and let Sweeney play first every day. The problem with that is that you're asking for an injury to Sweeney by taking that approach. I also think that Barton's growth could be getting stunted by not having him out there every night.
Beane has told me several times that you can never have too many good players, but the truth is that I don't think the A's are getting the best out of what they have because they have too many players who probably should be a DH. And you just know that Thomas is rarely, if ever, going to wind up sitting out because of the way he exited Toronto.
Although the issue will arise this upcoming weekend when the A's head into Atlanta. They're going to lose Thomas' bat all weekend without the DH.
Course this all goes away and I look like a fool if Thomas just starts hitting homers and doubles with regularity. And quite frankly, I'm hoping he makes me look like a fool.