Tag Archives: Jim Thome

Gotta Be In It…

What is fair market value for a superstar these days? Over the last few seasons, the Las Vegas Vipers have gone out to get two big free agents on the open market. They gave Ryan Anderson a record contract, and signed Adam Shorsher to another big deal last season.

Combined with Ichiro Suzuki (Perhaps the best player in the ULB, mind you…) they have a combined 93,670,000 tied up in these three players.

According to WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Shorsher was worth 6 wins above a replacement player. Ryan Anderson was worth 8.8. Ichiro, had he played a full season and not gotten injured, could have been worth 6. (He was worth 3.0 in 82 games.) That’s a combined 21 WAR for these three players. That’s $4,460,476 per win.

We’ll use that number as an extremely expensive baseline.

David Zed was worth 4.8 wins last season over in the MLB. Free Agent Market Value according to the Vipers would have been $22,302,380. Looks like the Mavs overpaid him by about $5,000,000. How about Jim Thome? He was worth 7.7 WAR last season for the Blue Jays and was worth $34,345,665. Looks like the Fire got a potential bargain for him, paying him about half of what he’s worth potentially.

Of course, these numbers aren’t a guarantee that a player will perform. They could get old (Thome) or skyrocket to superstardom (Zed). The key factor is that no one can really predict the future. Anything can and will happen. The Vipers rolled the dice and spent big and ending up losing 89 games last season. The Fire lost 101 games in 2009 and the Mavs have had two losing seasons after ending up in the plus column for 13 years.

Big Signings Highlight X-Mas Week in ULB

Union League Baseball First Ten: Kenneth Payne

With our second selection of the Union League Baseball First Ten, we had another touch choice, between two future ULB Hall of Famers. In the end, we selected a ULB original over a MLB import, by a somewhat narrow margin.

Ken Payne Led the ULB in Home Runs from 1995-2004.
Ken Payne led the ULB in Home Runs from 1995-2004.

First Base: Kenneth Payne (Hollywood Stars 1995-2000, Phoenix Fire 2001-2004)

From 1995-2004, Kenneth Payne led the league in hits (1,851), home runs (468), runs batted in (1,206),  runs scored (998),  extra base hits (768) and total bases (3,505). He hit home runs roughly every 13 trips to the plate, which ranks 5th among all players, but Payne played in more games all of them by a wide margin. (582*, to be precise, actually.)

In fact, Payne sat for just 12 games over the period from 1995-2004.  His ability to stay healthy may be a large part of why he’s led the league is so many categories in the first ten years of the ULB’s existence.

Payne was overlooked for a good portion of his career. if not for teammate Orestes Kindelan, it’s likely that Payne would have been the Federal League MVP in 1995. Instead, he had to wait until 2002 to be named the Players League MVP with the Phoenix Fire. Payne also appeared in 8 All Star Games, he wasn’t selected in 1999 or 2001. 1999’s snub is a mystery, as Payne played well, but in 2001, he had a tough time adjusting to the Players League’s (at the time) tougher pitching. By 2002 however, he had them figured out, and led the league with a then record 62 home runs.

Phoenix GM Rich McNeal accounts much of the team’s success to brining Payne to Phoenix.

“We were putting together a contender, but he still needed that one big bat to solidify our batting order. Payne happened to be the biggest free agent at the time. Originally we weren’t going after him. The Yankees had made a big offer to him, and we didn’t want to get into a bidding war with them. But a few weeks into free agency, I decided it was time to go for broke. We ended up giving him 87 million over 6 years, and after that we’ve never looked back.”

One of the hardest things to fathom is why Payne ever hit free agency. Stars GM Ken Mastny has never discussed it publicly, but our feeling is that Payne was tired of not winning championships. Former GM Marlon Trigg Sr. who died in 1999, is likely to blame. Mastny took over a horridly inept team of aging vets, and had trouble building around Payne due to budget constraints and a lackluster fan base.

It should be noted that Payne beat out 1B Jim Thome, who lost out due to not playing as much due to not joining the league until 1997 as well as being injured a few times. Thome also playing a few seasons as a third baseman. All things being equal, Payne would likely still have won, but if we had an 11th man for the First Ten, it would almost definitely go to Thome.

*Wayne Edwards, if you were wondering.

Spotlight On: Houston Apollos GM Nick Strongbad

The Apollos have just become the first team to switch leagues, how do you feel about your new home in the reconfigured Federal League West?

Getting out of the toughest division in the ULB should be good for the Apollos. There are a lot of young players on this team and I think this move coincides nicely with their development.

The Apollos haven’t been to the playoffs in six years. You improved to 77-77 last season, but have had what can only be called a few disappointing seasons. Where did it all go wrong for the Apollos the last few years?

Playing in the PL East was pretty rough. In addition, Houston’s record has been completely out of synch with what the players are actually doing. We finished 9 games under our pythag record last season. This roster was doing everything it needed to do to win games; there was just a lack of good timing.

You moved the Brian ‘The Wizard’ Sutter to third last season. Are you trying to put together an infield comprised entirely of former catchers?

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to acquire Craig Biggio.

Now that you’re in the Federal League, who do you see as your main rival now?

Portland is probably the team we’ll have to beat.

What was your main goal in the 2004 offseason?

Acquire the best player possible given our resources and not overpay veterans who suck. I think adding Abreu was a big deal.

Reportedly ate more than the worm according to unconfirmed reports.
Reportedly ate more than the worm according to unconfirmed reports.

Jim Thome and Marlon Trigg have had issues in the past, how have you managed to get them to co-exist?

I sent them to Tijuana with a wad of cash and told them not to come back until they were best friends.

What rookies/prospects do you feel could make an impact this season?

None?

Who is your best player on your current roster?

Probably Adam Dunn.

Finally, can you show us Albert Pujols’ birth certificate?

No Problem.

Jim Thome on Move to Apollos, Dingers and Rocking Rockers

Jim Palmer: First off Jim, Welcome to Houston. How are you liking the new city?

Jim Thome: I’ve always liked Houston. I’ve been here as a visiting player more than a few times. It’s been pretty mild so far, and I expected more of a dry heat. There’s a bit of an adjustment as compared to say San Jose.

JP: You’ve moved around the league quite a bit in the last few seasons. In your ULB Career you’ve been traded every two years since you came over from Cleveland. Is that something that bothers you?

JT: Maybe I should have asked for a No Trade Clause. (Laughs) It’s something that difficult to deal with. When I was traded from Phoenix, I was a little upset. I’d been having a bad year, but I thought we had the beginnings of a good team. Then I got called in the office, and next thing I know I’m on a plane to Salt Lake City. But it worked out pretty good, because I won a ring that year with the Bees. The trade from the Bees to the Jedi was a bit different. (General Manager J.C.) Hogg called me in and we talked about the moves he was about to make. We talked about the contenders at the time, and the Jedi had interest in me, and well, everyone wants to play for a winner. I won my second ring after that one.

JP: There seems to be a colleration between you being traded and winning the Union Cup with the team that trades for you that season.

JT: I never thought about it that way. I hope it continues. I mean, it looks bleak right now, but hey, stranger things have happened right?

JP:  The Apollos have gone 13-27 since you were traded to them, and they’ve gone from a second place contender to being in last place and 19 games out of the division race.

JT: It’s been tough. 13-27? Really. To be honest, it feels worse than that. Getting swept by San Jose was particularly hard to swallow. I don’t like losing. We should not be playing this bad with the team we have.

JP: You just signed an extension with the Apollos too.

JT: Yeah, I feel like this team is on the rise, despite this bad stretch,  and GM Nick Strongbad convinced me he’s committed to winning. I’ve been talking with Barry Bonds too about reupping. I think we could have one of the most dominating lineups in history.

JP: There’s definitely some power in your lineup between Bonds, Pujols and yourself.

JT: That’s definitely something pitchers dread seeing when they show the upcoming batters between innings. (laughs)

JP: There’s rumors that you got into a bit of a scuffle with Marlon Trigg. What happened?

JT: He keeps calling me JiJim. I told him to knock it off. We’re cool.

JP: So you’re saying you didn’t duct tape him to his locker?

JT: No comment. Next question please.

JP: What’s your favorite stadium to play in?

JT: Honestly, I love Apollo Park. I’ve ripped a few big dingers here, and I absolutely love the Power Alley at this park.

JP: You haven’t been ripping many big ones lately.

JT:  Well, that’s just cold Jim, cold. Maybe I need to start eating more pancakes on game days. Yeah, it took me a bit longer this time to get adjusted. It can be difficult when you switch leagues. I haven’t seen some of these pitchers in over two years. I’ve been burying my face in tendencies and scouting reports since the trade. Now that I’ve been situated a bit, I feel like the best is yet to come.

JP: Well we all wish you the best with the Apollos. You guys are facing the Vipers and John Rocker tonight. Any Predictions?

JT: We’re gonna rock Rocker.

With Thome Traded, Who could be Next?

Is the Big Hurt next?

With Jim Thome now officially a member of the Houston Apollos, and Barry Bonds now likely off the Trading Block, the question is who’s next? Today we’ll look at a few Players League teams that are out of the race, and look at who might attract attention over the next few weeks.

The Oklahoma City RedHawks continue to attempt to move OF Jim Edmonds, who is hitting .290 with 20 HR and 45 RBI. The RedHawks also also fielding calls for C Michael Barrett, who’s hitting .242 with 13 HR and is signed to a club friendly extenstion for the next 4 years.

In Las Vegas, the Vipers might be looking to move 1B Curtis Underwood, who’s hitting .214 with 13 HR as a total, but his road numbers are encouraging, as he improves to .260 with 8 HR outside the hitter’s nightmare that is American Airlines Field. The Vipers might also be open to moving SP David Wells. Wells is 5-7 with a 4.54 ERA in 111 IP. Some have said that Wells might be a good fit for a contender, as he’s kept his light hitting team in the game for the most part, and has not had much support from the Vipers offense.

Will the Boston Colonials keep 1B Frank Thomas? That’s a big question that hasn’t been answered yet. The Big Hurt is a Free Agent after this season, and Thomas will likely be looking to sign a big contract, as it will likely be his last. Thomas is 35, and is hitting .255 with 13 HR and 45 RBI for the Colonials. The Colonials could also help a team looking for bullpen help. Mike Munoz is pitching well for Boston, and is 2-0 with 2 saves and a 2.45 ERA in 45 innings out of the pen as the Colonials lefty setup man.

Over in Brooklyn, the Bridges could be looking to move Mark Anthony. Anthony is hitting .294 with 14 HR and by all accounts is having a career year for the Bridges. A team looking for a 4th outfielder might find room for Anthony on their bench, or possibly in their lineup. The Rocket, Roger Clemens could also be on the move. Clemens recently announced that this would be his final season before retiring, and he would no doubt like to go out with a bang. While Clemens isn’t the Ace he used to be, he has shown flashes of his former brillance. He’s 1-5 on the season, with a 4.92 ERA. Clemens fastball still clocks in at 92 MPH, but don’t expect him to be your #1 or #2 starter. Clemens is more suited to the back end of the rotation. His playoff numbers might entice a potential buyer, though.

Apollos Land Thome, Cook from Jedi

Thome heading to Houston Apollos

The Houston Apollos have landed Jim Thome and Heywood Cook from the San Jose Jedi in exchange for 1B Neil James, SP Ben Christensen and CF Matt Ostrom. Thome is expected to be penciled in for tonight’s start, and Cook will likely receive time at CF for the remaineder of the season. Thome is hitting .282 with 23 HR and 74 RBI in 81 games for the Jedi. Cook in batting .244 and is an excellent outfielder.

For the Jedi, they receive Neil James, who was hitting .276 with 11 homers in 61 games for Spokane. He will likely replace Thome in the Jedi’s lineup. Ostrom is a career .263 hitter in 7 big league seasons, before signing with the Apollos in 2001, he played 6 seasons in Portland. The centerpiece of the deal for the Jedi is the #15 overall prospect in the league in Ben Chistensen. The Jedi are taking a bit of a risk with Christensen, as he is 24, and is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. He will be 25 next season when he returns from his rehab.

Thome, Edmonds, Bonds Headline 2002 Trade Deadline Talks

Thome is hitting .282 with 23 HR this season

 

The ULB enters into the final 4 weeks before the Trade Deadline today, and it could be an interested few weeks. The San Jose Jedi have put 1B/DH Jim Thome on the trade block, as well as OF Haywood Cook, as they are likely considering their season all but over. The Oklahoma City RedHawks continue to shop OF Jim Edmonds as they continue to build for the future. The Apollos were looking to deal OF Barry Bonds early in the season, but one has to wonder if they would still consider moving him considering they are now in the thick of things in the PL East.

The buyers this season would appear to be the Crickets, Apollos, Fire and Canucks in the Players League, with Milwaukee a question mark. In the Federal League, the Gold Sox and Generals are neck and neck, and the DireWolves lead the Pioneers by 3 games. The Giants could be considered a dark horse, and one wonders if Ryan Huff can survive another offseason without a championship with the Donald breathing down his neck.

Apollos looking to deal Bonds

Apollos are looking to deal Bonds to a contender

The Houston Apollos aren’t waiting until the trade deadline to start shopping Barry Bonds. While the Apollos made a big splash in signing Bonds two years ago, injuries and lack of pitching depth failed to bring the Apollos to the front of the pack in a crowded division. His big name recognition has apparently not been enough to keep fans coming out to see a team that has lost 90+ games in 2000 and 2001. Reports are that the Apollos believe they cannot afford to keep Bonds at the 23 Million he is due in 2002, and that that money will be better spent elsewhere. Depending on the deal, the Apollos may be willing to cover up to half his salary. With no plans to keep Bonds past his current walk year, they are reportedly looking for a deal similar to the one that brought Jim Thome to SJ in 2000, or the one that brought him to Salt Lake City in 1998. Both times he was traded to a contender looking to make the playoffs. It worked both times.

“Barry is an elite player, and there’s certainly a few teams where his bat can thrive in either a DH or OF spot. Ideally, he’s best suited to a park that in homer friendly to lefties, but he’s going to produce results no matter where he goes.”

Kindelan Looking towards Future?

8/5/1995

GM Trigg Hasn't made effort to resign Stars' Kindelan
GM Trigg Hasn’t made effort to resign Stars’ Kindelan

Is Orestes Kindelan willing to resign with the Hollywood Stars? While the 30 year old Cuban slugger did miss nearly a month of the season with a sprained ankle, he’s since come back and has continued to dominate league pitching. Kindelan is also reportedly demanding a large contract in order to remain in Hollywood. GM Marlon Trigg Sr. has remained mum on Kindelan’s future with the franchise. Reports indicate the two sides have had very little contact since the season began.

“They haven’t talked.” was the general word out of the Stars organization. Trigg himself was unavailable to speak to the media, since he’s been on a pleasure cruise for most of the season. This begs the question are the Stars willing to let Kindelan walk? Is Trigg coasting on fumes, and what does Owner Bill Gates have to say about the Stars GM’s lackadaisical command style thus far?

Kindelan is sure to command a large payday, however,in their month without him they proved they could win games without him. Kindelan will surely command an extravagant amount on the free agent market if Trigg lets him walk. With teams fighting over Kindelan, the Stars could potentially sign some of the other big ticket Free Agents that could potentially be on the market such as Jim Thome, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez or… Trigg’s potential #1 target Mike Piazza. Of course, the MLB will also be a factor in next years Free Agent Market, and it will be Trigg’s first test against the big boys of the MLB. The Stars play in one of the toughest markets in baseball with the Dodgers, Angels, A’s, Padres, Giants and the ULB’s San Jose Jedi nearby.

Trigg also has a hated Rival in the Washington Generals GM Josh Allenberg who will likely be looking to make Trigg pay dearly for the players he values most.

One way or the other, Trigg will have his work cut out for him this offseason, if he ever returns from his four month long pleasure cruise, that is.