Frank Thomas leaves for the Blue Jays? OK, that one caught me off guard.
Darn shame, really. The A's and Thomas were such a perfect match. The fans loved him. His teammates loved him. He filled a huge need on the team. His style of play is exactly what the team philosophy aims for. I would have loved to have seen him finish his career in Oakland.
But if Toronto is willing to risk $10-$12 million more than the A's are willing to risk on this aging player, what can you do? I can see paying $10 million/year for Thomas, but a three-year deal strikes me as too big a gamble for the A's to take. And I can't really blame Thomas for taking the extra year. Nobody in their right mind turns down $10 million guaranteed, even if you're already wealthy.
And after Boston bid $51 million for Matsuzaka, I think baseball fans are going to have to readjust their brains for a new salary scale. With so many teams flush with cash, every free-agent contract that is signed this offseason is going to seem outrageously expensive in comparison to the past.
It strikes me as somewhat ironic that, although the A's have been able to stay competitive for many years while crying poor, the very week that they get a new stadium lined up, all those years of limited revenues might finally catch up to them. Thomas' production will be hard to replace, and with so many other teams with so much cash to spend, it's hard to imagine the A's could find a replacement on the free market very easily.
Daric Barton is the only viable candidate from the minors, but he suffered an injury-plagued lost season in 2006, so he probably won't make any impact in 2007. Beane could make some creative trades, I suppose, but as a participant in a previous A's trade once said, youneverknow.
So that leaves us with...gasp...Barry Bonds. The A's need a DH. Bonds needs to DH. He lives in the Bay Area. Maybe he'd take a little less money to stay near home, who knows?
I'd prefer that this did not happen. Quite honestly, I'd rather see the A's suffer through a lousy season with a bunch of young players than to deal with the circus surrounding Barry Bonds. If he does sign with the A's, I'll tell you right now, I'll initiate an immediate Barry Bonds fast. I won't watch Bonds until...well, I don't know, but I guess until something happens that makes me like the guy. I lack the imagination to figure out what that could possibly be.