For the first time in over a decade, the Baltimore Orioles are true contenders in both the American League East and AL wild-card races. That means the team can finally play the part of "buyer" as the All-Star break approaches.
As you've read in other articles, supporters of the move love Thome's leadership qualities, on-base percentage and his knack for being a clutch hitter. On the contrary, I see this move doing little, if not nothing, to improve the team.
Reason 1: The Orioles Are Weak on Defense, Now They're Even Weaker
Thome was traded by the Phillies because he can longer field any position. Which means he can't even fill in at first base.
Why fill a roster spot with a one-dimensional player when depth will certainly come in handy down the line?
The Orioles are one of the most error-prone teams in the majors, with a .977 fielding percentage. This move does nothing but solidify that negative statistic.
Reason 2: The Orioles Don't Need Another Designated Hitter
This season with the Phillies, Thome hit .242 with five home runs and 15 RBI.
While those numbers are the result of only 62 at-bats, the Orioles already have players who can fill that role with similar, if not better, numbers. For example: Current Orioles Nick Johnson, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis already have roster spots.
Does this team really need four DH/1B-type players?
Reason 3: The Orioles Are in Desperate Need of Quality Pitching
The reason the Orioles are in the race is due to average starting pitching and a stellar bullpen that keeps the team in games.
If the prospects the O's traded away for Thome are truly worth their weight, why not utilize them in another deal to swipe a proven arm? Especially now that Brian Matusz has been sent to the minors and we've yet to see Zach Britton emerge post-injury, such a move could be quite useful.
If the Orioles are serious about contending in September, they need at least one more solid starter in the rotation.
Reason 4: The Orioles Have Acquired Similar Players Before with Lackluster Results
Bobby Bonila, Geronimo Berroa, Sammy Sosa, Dwight Evans. Need I go on?
If Thome does perform at an above-average level, the Orioles may tinker with the idea of trading or releasing Mark Reynolds or Nick Johnson—that is, if anyone wants them—especially with the emergence of rookie outfielder Xavier Avery fielding his position like a pro and adding much-needed speed to the base paths.
Someone with his skill set is a much more valuable commodity on this team.
Regardless, this move does nothing more than put a new name on a jersey with little to no overall impact on increasing the number of team wins.