The White Sox are a good bet to land Jim Thome off waivers if they put in a claim for him, it appears. But his presence could force Paul Konerko back into the field, which may not be good.
His game-tying RBI single in the eighth was his 2,000th career hit, a fine achievement for a guy Tommy Lasorda didn't think could stay in the majors due to a supposed hip problem.
But 13 years later, Konerko's leg is a problem. Not a big enough problem to keep him out of the lineup, but a big enough problem to keep him out of the field.
And that's why acquiring Thome could end up being a bit of a headache.
Thome is years removed from playing the field. He hasn't played the field since 2007 and hasn't played more than 500 innings at first base since 2004. He's not an option to play first base.
Konerko probably isn't either.
The King isn't known for his range at first base -- UZR has rated him negatively in terms of range for eight of the last 10 years -- but he makes up for it by having great hands and a fantastic knowledge of the position. He's an overall average defender, I'd argue, but with even less range than he already has, it could be a problem.
Almost every speedy left-handed batter would look to lay down a drag bunt, forcing Konerko to charge and field the ball while the pitcher sprints to first base. Ground balls to Konerko's right would turn into easy hits, and anything down the first base line would be out of the question. Essentially, opponents would implement the strategy of trying to hit toward Konerko.
Plus, on a pain level, playing first base couldn't be a fun exercise for Konerko. To play, say, seven innings at first base could be grueling; worst-case, the constant pain hurts his production at the plate.
I don't think anyone would question Konerko if he told the White Sox to not bother acquiring Thome because his leg is such an issue. If he volunteers to grit his teeth and play first base for the last month or so, though, it'll be close to the level of toughness Duncan Teeth showed during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So this isn't purely a question of whether the liability of Konerko the defender outweighs the liability of Adam Dunn the hitter. As a first baseman, whatever defensive deficiencies Konerko would have would be worth it if it meant replacing Dunn with Thome.
But unless Konerko's leg magically heals, it won't matter.