By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EDT, July 1, 2012
On Saturday, the Orioles dealt two minor leaguers, catcher Gabriel Lino and pitcher Kyle Simon, to the Philadelphia Phillies for likely Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome.
At first blush, it’s a "why not?" trade.
Thome doesn't have a high salary -- roughly half of the $1.25 million contract he signed this year is still on the books.
He can still hit right-handers and is a professional hitter, and the Orioles desperately need another one, especially with Nolan Reimold (neck surgery) likely lost for the season and Nick Markakis (wrist) currently on the DL.
Thome will be the primary DH, which is also needed since the Orioles' designated hitters are in the bottom half of most major offensive categories.
Then look at the other factors: He is universally considered one of the top character guys in the game. He has postseason experience. At 41, he has embraced the veteran leader role. And he'll be chasing some milestones; his next homer will help him pass Sammy Sosa for seventh all-time at 610.
There isn’t really much downside in acquiring Thome. If he can’t hit, he didn’t financially cost much, so cutting ties is painless. If he does hit and the Orioles still plummet in the standings, then they move him to another AL contender later this season for a low-level prospect.
There are only two real concerns: He has back trouble, and it’s unknown how much wear and tear he can handle if he’s playing a lot.
And although Lino and Simon aren’t high-end prospects, it should make the Orioles a little wary that Joe Jordan, the club’s former scouting director, is now the Phillies’ development director. He drafted Simon in the fourth round last year, and he’s quite familiar with the Orioles’ farm system in general.
But that’s a risk you have to take if you are the Orioles. Who knows if they’ll be in contention at the end of July? So filling an obvious hole now with a veteran character guy makes sense.
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