April 24, 2014

The Ex Files: Gentlemen Jim and Kenny

LoftonIts an extremely slow news day here in the 216/440. Not exactly chock full of things to talk about, so I figured it would be nice to check in with two old friends.

Kenny Lofton, who was last seen being held up at third by Joel Skinner (UGH!), will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame on August 7th before a game with the Minnesota Twins. During a stellar 17-year career, Lofton’s time in Cleveland was what he is most remembered for. A four-time gold-glove winner and a five-time all-star during his three stints with the Tribe, Kenny retired (not to his liking) after the 2007 season as the Indians all-time stolen base leader. As an Indian, he hit .290 (1512-5045) with 87 Home Runs, 518 RBI, 975 runs scored, and 452 stolen bases.

During the Indians “era of champions” (which is a joke of a nickname considering they never won a World Series), Lofton was the igniter of the best offense in baseball. His return during the 2007 run to the postseason was not only a shot in the arm to the team (he took over the left field hole and hit .283) but a nostalgic move for the fans, who loved every second of having him back. As surly as he was known to be as a teammate, Lofton was still the straw that stirred the drink during the 90′s for the Tribe. His induction into the Tribe Hall of Fame is well deserved.

ThomeIn other-Ex-Indian news, my all-time favorite member of the Tribe, Jim Thome, has finally found a home for the 2010 season. The Minnesota Twins have signed Thome to a one year, $1.5 million deal yesterday. The Twins will be Big Jim’s third AL Central team and his fifth overall (Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers). So we get to enjoy him owning us for another year, but this time as a Twin.

You may ask yourself where the at-bats will come from, considering Minnesota already has committed to Michael Cuddyer in right field, Delmon Young in left field, Jason Kubel at DH, and former MVP Justin Morneau at first base. You don’t sign a one-dimensional DH like Thome as an American League team just to be a pinch hitter. Manager Ron Gardenhire has his own ideas.

We play ‘em all and everybody is going to get at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “A guy like Jim, he’s not going to just come off the bench. He’s going to get his time playing and mix in at DH. … That’s the way you keep the guys going and keep everybody a part of it. We’ll get plenty of at-bats for him.”

The Twins seem like a good fit for the down-home, future Hall of Famer Thome. They were really excited about me coming there and so to me, it was a no-brainer,” said Thome, “I’ve always enjoyed the way they’ve played and how they’ve gone about their business. To be a part of that, it will be a lot of fun to go there and help them win.”

Gardy couldn’t be more excited.

“We just signed a guy that’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and it doesn’t get much better than that. One of the classiest acts in the game. A great hitter, a great player and great for our clubhouse. I think we got the package deal here.”

Meanwhile, the Indians are paying $14 million for their DH Travis Hafner this year. Who do you think has the better bag for their buck?

  • B-bo

    Well I now know my can’t-miss game for the 2010 season: there’s not a more deserving inductee to the Tribe hall than #7.

  • PNR

    I was at a game at the Jake when Thome hit 3 HRs. Can’t remember the year but I think the game was against the Cards. Amazing display of power.

    But I can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth that links Thome and Manny. Both said they wanted to stay in Cleveland and that they might accept a “hometown discount.” Both jumped at the highest offer that came along — the Phillies and BoSox, respectively.

    If Thome had been a man and just admitted that he was going to accept the highest dollar offer, we could have traded him for some value — ala CC. Instead he strung along the Tribe and then eventually bolted for $$$. I can’t seem to get over that.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    The way Thome left was way worse then Manny I mean everyone realized Manny would chase the money but somehow when Thome did the same it left a worse taste in Indians fans mouths. It’s a shame how that decade had to end between the chokes in the World Series to the way the players we all loved left but that’s professional sports for you. This is largely why I don’t hitch myself to individual players anymore and why if they don’t win a championship then what did they really accomplish. I’m tired of having to SETTLE for finishing second or just winning a division I want a damn championship already! This is why I’m pulling hard for the Cavaliers to go out and make a trade for another superstar because if they don’t all it will remind me of is the Indians when the best they could do was go out and get a Kevin Seitzer type player.

  • AMC

    Kenny’s return to the Tribe in 2007 was epic. I’ve can’t remember being so stoked about a mid-season Tribe pickup as I was when he came back. I remember him getting standing O’s for like two weeks everytime he came up to bat.

    And he was awesome in the playoffs to boot. Too bad we couldn’t finish the job.

  • Tribal

    Lofton was the most electrifying baseball player I’ve ever seen. And for him to come back and produce for the stretch in ’07 was special, to say the least.

  • Lloyd Braun

    Great to see Lofton inducted in the Indians Hall of Fame. Next step is to retire his number.

  • MattC

    Lofton deserves it

    Thome for Hall of Shame

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-6513-Cleveland-Sports-Examiner clevexaminer

    The Hafner contract makes me sick. He made just under $1 million per homerun last year. What’s the chance he makes $1 million+ per HR this season?

    Thome, he was ahead of his time – cut and run from the small-market team for the big bucks.

  • MrCleaveland

    In one way, it’s kind of pathetic the way Thome is just hanging around, long past his prime. Like an older friend who kept hanging around the high school a year or two after he graduated.

    On the other hand, he gets paid a ton of money to play a game he loves and it’s not going to hurt his HOF chances, so what the heck, why not?

  • Chris

    The Indians front office threw Thome a low ball offer after he had basically signed with Philly. Don’t let Shapiro fool you, he had no intention of resigning Thome.

  • B-bo

    Thanks to Mr. C, I am now imagining Thome as Wooderson in “Dazed & Confused”, only leaning against the dugout and checking out minor leaguers. “That’s what I love about these pitching prospects……I get older, they stay the saaaaame age”

  • James

    Kenny’s home-run against the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS is probably my favorite moment as a sports fan. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. Absolutely agreed that if any 90′s player deserves to get his number retired, it’s Lofton.

  • MrCleaveland

    None of the ’90s Tribesmen deserves to have his number retired, but Omar comes closest. Lofton’s not an HOFer. Omar’s the only one of the likely HOFers who didn’t give us the finger, but even so he just doesn’t merit it.

  • Lloyd Braun

    The 90′s Tribesman brought meaningful baseball back to Cleveland (after a 40 year absence) and Lofton and Omar absolutely deserve to have their numbers retired. I also think that Omar will be a hall of famer.

  • S-Dub

    I’m still confused as to why the Tribe didn’t sign Kenny back. I mean they had CC coming off a Cy Young, Fausto coming off the 19 win season Grady being a beast and a pretty good rest of the roster. I know he wanted a lot of $$$ but it may have worked out for us.

    Kenny would have taken Michaellucci at bats and hit leadoff, allowing Grady to slide down to #3, keeping Peralta WAY down in the lineup and would have taken pressure off A-Cab.

    Of course it wouldn’t have mattered with JoBo and his noodle arm.

  • Lloyd Braun

    @15 – If I remember correctly, Lofton wanted to play CF and bat leadoff. The Tribe obviously wasn’t going to move Grady and only batted Lofton leadoff for a handful of games in 07, then moved him down in the order.

    It was a sad way to see Lofton end his career. I think he overestimated (by a lot) the interest out there. I hate to see a player of his caliber not go out on his terms.

  • ClevelandSouth

    Lofton stealing home from 2nd in the ALCS against Seattle was the highpoint of my childhood.

  • Karsten

    You people can’t put yourselves in another person’s shoes for one second can you?

    Tell me honestly that you think baseball is not a grueling business, and you would risk losing millions by not signing with a big team. No, you probably can’t do it. Forget I asked.

    I don’t blame Thome, nor do I harbor any resentment for the guy.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    “Lofton stealing home from 2nd in the ALCS against Seattle was the highpoint of my childhood.”

    Agreed. That might be the single greatest play I have ever watched in a baseball game. I swear he was accelerating while rounding third…

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    I liked when Carlos Baerga hit a homerun from both sides of the plate in one inning.

  • todd

    wow. hafner’s contract does suck. why is shapiro still around?

  • REEPJP

    Two things…..

    Does anyone remember the Kenny poster with the lightning bolt in the background, and all his stats about how fast he could run around the bases? Best poster ever…..that one adorned my walls for most of my childhood…

    http://tinyurl.com/90feet

    Second….I thought the whole deal with Thome was that the Phillies gave him an extra year (6 vs. the Tribe only wanting 5)? Granted I know they were offering a lot of money, but I for some reason don’t remember being quite as mas about Jim (maybe it was because I was young and I had his autograph so I had a mini man crush on him).

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @20 Oh yea CB was my favorite Indian of that time while Belle, Lofton, Thome and Manny got all the love I just couldn’t help but root for the penguin running Baerga. Man what a great time it’s a shame John Hart could never find one legitimate ace for the starting rotation otherwise we would have had one of those championships I see all these other cities enjoy from their sports teams. Just think about all that offensive firepower and how the Indians never used it to improve their pitching to get over the top. It was a shame looking back on it.