Separated at birth

There’s no excuse for why I haven’t posted as much as I should’ve been the past month or so. I just didn’t devote any time to making sure I found something about baseball to write about and then sitting down to write it. There’s been plenty to ponder, so I’ll pick it up with some of this week’s happenings and go from there.

The A’s made a good move in signing Frank Thomas to a one-year deal with a base salary of $500,000. It fits their financial model, but the potential $2.6 million in performance bonuses will make it worthwhile for Thomas if he’s able to stay healthy.

From Thomas’ perspective, it all hinges on his left foot. He will earn, according to the ESPN.com article, “$1.4 million in roster bonuses if he is on the active major-league roster or not on the DL related to a left foot injury. He would get $325,000 each on May 1 and June 15 and $375,000 apiece on July 15 and Aug. 15.”

So if he’s going to get hurt — rather than apply the Big Hurt — he’s better off dropping a weight on his right foot or carrying deer meat up the stairs to his house than he is in fouling a pitch off that left foot.

Ironically, while Thomas missed most of last season with injuries, so did another potential Hall-of-Fame first baseman with whom he has a lot in common. Thomas and Jeff Bagwell were born on the same date — May 27, 1968 — and made their major league debuts within three baseball months of one another (Thomas on August 2, 1990, Bagwell on April 8, 1991). And Thomas trails Bagwell in career home runs by the slimmest of margins: 448 to 449. (Not to mention less than 100 RBI and less than 200 runs.)

However, while Thomas appears to be healthier than he’s been in several seasons, Bagwell and the Astros could be heading for an uncomfortable final season together. The Astros are saying Bagwell’s right shoulder injury hasn’t healed enough after last season’s surgery to allow him to play. If you watched him in last fall’s World Series, you saw just how much it affected his ability to swing the bat. Houston has some incentive to have Bagwell miss the season: $15.6 million of his salary would be covered by insurance if he retires or is disabled all season because of the injury.

That’s some way to treat a guy who is probably the best hitter — certainly the best slugger — in franchise history. Still, Bags insists he’ll be in Florida for spring training, which could make for an akward start to the season. I just hope he’s able to play and not embarrass himself; he’s one of those upstanding, honest players whom you enjoy rooting for and like to see do well. He’s the kind of guy who should be able to go out on his own terms.

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