Ramirez Welcomes Thome To Mannywood

In facing the Phillies in last year’s NLCS, the Dodgers learned firsthand the value of
having a potent lefthanded bat on the bench. Veteran Matt Stairs, a Phillies’ acquisition last August, walloped a crucial Game 4 home run that all but but sealed the Dodgers’ fate. Perhaps with that in mind, Los Angeles made a trade with the White Sox to acquire 39-year-old Jim Thome, he of 586 career home runs. In return, Chicago received high Class A
middle infielder Justin Fuller and cash.

An 18-year veteran and a five-time All-Star, Thome is a career .278/.404/.557 hitter with 1,562 RBIs. Thome’s career average of one home run per 13.6 at-bats is fifth-best in major league history, and second-best among all active players, behind only Ryan Howard. Through 107 games for the White Sox this year, playing strictly at DH, Thome was hitting .249/.372/.493 with 15 doubles, 23 home runs and 74 RBIs. He hasn’t played first base regularly since ’04 with the Phillies, and he hasn’t played there at all there since ’07.

Thome said he can fill in at first in emergency situations, but no one expects Thome to take away from James Loney’s playing time. In the final year of his deal, Thome is eligible to become a free agent after the season, and the White Sox cash to help the Dodgers pay the remaining money on his $13 million deal.

The Young
Fuller, 26, was the Dodgers’ 11th-round pick in 2006 out of Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). A solid defensive middle infielder, he offers solid range and a strong arm. He profiles better as a second baseman at higher levels, but he’s played just as much shortstop this season. For high Class A Inland Empire, Fuller was hitting .254/.340/.418 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs. A lefthanded hitter, Fuller has a line-drive swing that creates gap-to-gap power. He has fringe-average speed. The Juneau, Alaska, native hasn’t hit enough to propel himself to higher levels of the minors. Unless something drastic happens, Fuller would seem to be a nice organizational player.
Manny Ramirez and Thome are reunited in Los Angeles, nine years after they played together with the near dynastic late-’90s Indians. Combined, Ramirez and Thome have 1,106 career home runs, the most for any two teammates in the major leagues. The White Sox have struggled of late, and didn’t need Thome for the rest of the season. Plus, in trading the veteran to a contender they give him an opportunity to play deep in to October—and Thome has never played for a World Series winner.

Central 2009