Yeah, I know I am in the minority, and certainly baseball wise the news of Clete Thomas being designated for assignment isn’t going to shock the world, but that doesn’t mean that the likely departure of Thomas from the Tigers organization isn’t going to sadden me. For those that follow along here, and for my friends that I talk baseball with, they know that I have been in Thomas’ corner for quite some time. I’ve watched him come up through the system, and always felt he had the skills necessary to be a contributor at the major league level. No, he may not be a starter, but certainly good enough to be a contributor.
He never really has gotten much of a chance in Detroit, especially the last couple of years. He showed very well with the Tigers in 2008, and then in 2009, getting some significant time with Magglio Ordonez being out with injury. When 2010 came around, injuries began to derail Thomas, and he has spent the last 2 seasons fighting them, and honestly not impressing in his time with Toledo when he has been on the field. He came into spring with a legitimate chance to make the club, given that he was out of options, and he did. The writing was kind of on the wall, however, that when a roster move needed to be made, Clete was going to be the one on the way out.
While Thomas has always had some issues with contact, he has shown a little bit of pop, a good amount of speed, and an ability to play multiple outfield positions well with a strong arm. That is a quality skill set for a 4th or 5th outfielder, and there is no reason that another team shouldn’t pick him up.
Another quality I like about Thomas, that doesn’t get talked about that often with players in general, is that he plays the game hard. I remember one game when he hit a routine grounder to second and the defender stayed back, Thomas busted it down the line and beat the throw for an infield single. I root for guys like that. There is nothing wrong with a little hustle out there in a day and age where guys don’t always run things out. The lack of hustle and effort is why I despise the NBA.
The Tigers essentially have 10 days to trade Thomas before he goes on waivers. I am sure some team might be willing to part with an A ball player for Thomas, and at the very least, I suspect that he will get claimed off of waivers by another organization if the Tigers can’t find a deal for him.
I wish Thomas well, and hope he lands on a team that can give him some playing time. He mentioned that he believes he is a big league player. I believe he is too, even if it is just a bench guy.