TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays front office appears to be as impatient as a collegiate Athletic Director.

 

Win or go home..or at least somewhere besides here.

 

That’s the message Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi delivered to future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. The longtime Chicago White Sox first baseman turned Designated Hitter is officially out of the Blue Jays organization.

 

After being told he would be taken out of the lineup and, at least temporarily, inserted as a part-time player, Thomas resorted to similar antics that drove him out of Chicago. Rather than working with management and finding his way out of an early season slump (.167 average, 3 homers, 11 RBIs), he agreed that the best option was to part ways with the Toronto franchise on Sunday.

 

“I’m angry,” Thomas told the Toronto Star. “I know I can help this team. My career isn’t going to end like this.”

 

Jays manager John Gibbons contends that sitting the slumping Thomas was the only option if his team has any chance of keeping pace with perennial AL East powers Boston and New York. Toronto (10-9) is currently 2.5 games out of first place behind Boston (13-7) and Baltimore (11-8), and a half game ahead of the mediocre Yankees (10-10).

 

Thomas, however, thinks there were other motives behind his release — like helping pay for renovations made to Rogers Centre. The 39-year old slugger needed only 304 more at bats (1,000 total plate appearance between the 2007-08 seasons) to qualify his contract agreement that would have guaranteed a $10 million salary for next season.

 

“When I talked to Frank, the one thing I mentioned to him was that, ‘Your role will probably be diminished and, just knowing you, I don’t think you’re going to be happy in that role,’ ” Ricciardi told MLB.com. “He said he wouldn’t be happy in that role, so he thought the best bet was just to move on.”

 

After a similar start last season, Thomas led the team with 26 homers and 95 RBIs. In a young season in which the Blue Jays are in the mix, you still have to wonder if money played into the decision to bench the DH.

 

Thomas isn’t the only AL East DH that is off to a bad start. In fact, he currently has better numbers than Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Ortiz has started the season a disappointing 12-for-75 with 2 home runs, 12 RBIs, and 15 strike outs. His .160 average, .267 on base percentage, and .240 slugging percentage are also lower than the former Blue Jay. But Boston has yet to show any signs of releasing Big Pappy.

 

If Ricciardi and Gibbons were afraid of Thomas turning into a clubhouse poison, their best bet is to stay on the good side of recent acquisition Scott Rolen. The primary reason Rolen is in Toronto is because he couldn’t get along with the management of his two former employers.

 

Despite winning Gold Gloves and Rookie of the Year honors in Philadelphia, the third-baseman had frequent spats with the Phillies skipper and demanded a trade. And his tenure in St. Louis under Tony LaRussa ended in similar fashion. All it took was being benched during the 2006 playoffs in an effort to rest an injury to jumpstart controversy in the Cardinals dugout.

 

Now that Rolen is finally back from his latest rehab assignment, get ready for sparks to fly in Toronto. And as for talks of picking up Barry Bonds, forget about it. If Ricciardi goes through with the rumors, get ready for the Blue Jays to be the most negatively publicized club this year. The Steinbrenners might actually have some competition in 2008. Be on the lookout for reports of a Frank Thomas jersey buried underneath Rogers Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. JayVee says:

    I was somewhat surprised to hear they cut the Big Hurt…

  2. JayVee says:

    Big Hurt signed with Oakland..interesting

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