What's Gentleman Jim been up to? According to the Chicago Tribune, Jim Thome and his wife, Andrea, are upgrading to a $4.6M Chicago-area home and selling their old residence for $3.8M.
Thome: Not to turn this into TMZ, but this is the only slice of Thome news that surfaced when I went searching for an update on his injury status. It's beginning to feel like a Dave Hollins 2002 situation where he comes back to Philly, realizes there's nothing left and gradually fades from the picture completely. Thome, who started four games at first, went 2-for-18 before landing on the DL with what seemed like an innocuous lower back strain almost a month ago.
It may be that Thome and the Phillies have arranged a gentleman's agreement to activate him only when they truly need him. The American League portion of interleague play begins June 8 in Baltimore. If he isn't back on the roster by then you'd think the best-case scenario is that he's on the Phillies' bench when rosters expand in September. But until then, there's just no point in wasting the roster space on him. Even without Howard, and Laynce Nix, the Phillies have first base adaquately covered, it seems.
Hamels: There's an interesting piece on Fangraphs.com comparing pending free agents Cole Hamels and Zach Greinke using the WAR metric; Fangraphs has Greinke as the more valuable pitcher when you put him in front of a neutral defense, while Baseball-Reference WAR lists Hamels ahead of Greinke and third overall in the National League behind Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto. Either way, Hamels is simply brutalizing opponents with his change-up; his K/9 is 1.4 higher than last season while his walks have remained down. If he can maintain this pace, this will be his best season by a longshot and result in a massive payout. Fangraphs wonders if he'll get more money than Matt Cain. To me, there's no question.
Small-ball: The phrase "manufacture runs," implies doing it the hard way and that's exactly how the Phillies have managed to become a middle-of-the-road National League offense. They're third in the league in hitting (.264) and they're the best team in the league at putting the ball in play, having struck out a league low 17 percent of their at bats. However, they're a slave to BABIP, the dice roll of hitting with RISP and have been hurt by a 6.7 walk rate, which is second to last in the NL and is most likely the product of a). free swingers b). opposing pitchers going right after the hitters, when pressed, recognizing the lack of a big threat.
Still, the Phillies probably deserve some amount of credit for coaxing average run production from this weakened group of banjo hitters, as painful and laborious as it is to watch.