Frank Thomas has hit 448 home runs, and has hit .307/.427/.568, over his 16-year career. That's pretty impressive, but in the last 2 seasons, Frank Thomas has been mostly injured: he's appeared in a total of 108 major league baseball games. Whatever Frank Thomas does in the 2006 baseball season, he'll do in the uniform of the Oakland A's. Thursday, the A's signed Thomas to a $500,000 contract, which reportedly includes $2.6 million in health- and plate-appearance-based incentives. He'll be a DH, and bat in the middle of the lineup. If he stays healthy.
Though we've taken some pleasure in the irony of The Big Hurt's nickname over the last couple years, we're cautiously optimistic about his signing at A's Brand Baseball HQ. Thomas is a fearsome right-handed bat. Even if he's lost some pop, he should at least give the A's what David Justice used to: a lot of walks, some good ABs, a reputation that scares opposing managers into pitching to Chavez and Bradley. As a DH, he'll push Dan Johnson back into the field, at first base, where he's more valuable to the team. Little Nicky Swisher will share time in leftfield, where he's more valuable, with Jay Payton. A year after the team with which he spent his whole career won the World Series without him, Thomas has something to prove. Also, with a couple more good seasons (and 52 more home runs), he has a pretty good case for Cooperstown. If he stays healthy.