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Big League Stew

Jim Thome finds new home in Baltimore

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(US Presswire)

With an offense ranking towards the bottom of the American League in several key categories (runs scored, average and .OPS among them), that's having a particularly difficult time handling right-handed pitching, the Baltimore Orioles went out and acquired some Hall of Fame thump from the left side on Saturday.

As first reported by Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia and later confirmed to be a done deal by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Philadelphia Phillies shipped 41-year-old Jim Thome — and his 609 career home runs — to Baltimore in exchange for 19-year-old catcher Gabriel Lino and 21-year-old right-hander Kyle Simon — the 11th and 20th ranked prospects respectively in the Baltimore organization — who are both at the Class A level.

In 71 plate appearances this season, Thome has posted a .242/.338/.516 line, which isn't exactly overwhelming or necessarily an improvement over the current Orioles designated hitters (.258/.349/.439) but he's been productive with the limited at-bats connecting for five homers and knocking in 15 runs. That's the type of instant offense Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is looking for, along with the experience and other intangibles Thome brings to the table.

"Jim Thome is a real pro," said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. "And he specializes in hitting home runs and getting on base. He has done that consistently. Beyond that he is a terrific teammate, a steady presence and he is a veteran. He has been around the league and he has been in a pennant race and in the playoffs. I like all those things that he brings to our team. I think he gives us a little more depth to our lineup with the injuries to our left-handed hitters."

Thome should immediately take over primary designed hitter duties against right-hitters in wake of Nick Johnson's latest injury. Baltimore has also been weakened from the left side by injuries to Nick Markakis and Endy Chavez, so Thome's bat obviously holds a great deal of value to them as we get ready to turn the page to July.

[Related: Orioles lose for eighth time in past 11 games]

As for the Phillies, holding on to Thome made little sense at this point. He's not a good fit with a National League team, where bench players with versatility hold more value, and a roster spot was eventually going to be needed to be opened up for the rehabbing Ryan Howard. Though at this time no concrete timetable for Howard's return has been established, Ruben Amaro was quick to jump on a deal that lands them a couple fringe prospects.

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