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Before Thanksgiving and only weeks after winning the World Series, Kenny Williams and the Sox are almost ready for the 2006 season to begin.

Jim Thome will slug for the Sox next year. The Sox will lose Everett and Rowand and they will be replaced by Thome and Brian Anderson. I think Konerko will remain on the White Sox and he will have a big long-term deal to boot. But Frank Thomas will not be back. There simply isn't a spot for him if Konerko comes back. If Konerko does not sign with the Sox, then you might see Thomas on a one-year, incentive laden deal--assuming he can be ready to go on opening day.

So the Sox lineup for 2006 is basically set:
  1. LF Podsednik
  2. 2B Iguchi
  3. DH Thome
  4. 1B Konerko
  5. RF Dye
  6. C Pierzynski
  7. 3B Crede
  8. CF Anderson
  9. SS Uribe
The big question is whether Thome is and will remain healthy. The article about the trade called Thome "an oft-injured first baseman". But before last year Thome had played in 143 or more games for the previous six seasons. Doesn't sound like oft-injured to me.

Thome is said to be in great shape, although who isn't at this time of the off-season? Seems every player is "working out" or has lost "20 pounds" and "added muscle". But I actually believe it about Thome. He was already rehabbing from the injury.

Coming back to the AL will also help him stay healthy. He will primarily be the DH for the Sox unless Konerko signs elsewhere. Even so, someone will be able to spell Thome at 1B and he will play the field much less. How much that affects his health I've no idea only to say it must help some.

His age is certainly a factor. I looked at all the players with 300 or more HRs and their performances at age 35 and beyond. You could make a case that 35 is the age where players start breaking down physically and their skills begin deteriorating. But there are many players that remained productive consistent to their career numbers or actually improved at age 35 and beyond:
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Hank Aaron
  • Barry Bonds
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Mike Schmidt
  • Ted Williams
  • Babe Ruth
  • Ernie Banks
  • Fred Mc Griff
  • Vinny Castilla
  • Jeff Kent
  • Ellis Burks
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Andres Galarraga
  • Carl Yastrzemksi
That's just a partial list. But there is also a list of players who hit 35 and either completely fell apart or had their production decrease rapidly.
  • Eddie Murray
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Mike Piazza
  • Tino Martinez
  • Juan Gonzalez
  • Larry Walker
  • Frank Thomas
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Jimmie Foxx
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Mel Ott
  • Willie McCovey
  • Eddie Mathews
So what do we make of this? It's better to be younger than 35. But it is not a death knell. With the cash the Sox get from the Phils in this trade, Thome will be paid slightly more than Carl Everett. I'd almost guarantee that he puts up much better numbers than Everett. Will he do it in 2007 & 2008? That's to be seen.

But the Sox have Brian Anderson waiting to fill Rowand's shoes. He could be an upgrade offensively. It just might be one of those win-win deals. And if Thome is healthy, the Sox surely get a win in the deal.

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